An Outdoor Wedding? Start Decorating at the Front Door!

by Diana Fox

No other event is quite as magical as a wedding… it’s a celebration of promise and possibility – happiness and hospitality – memories and merriment. Gathering close friends and family together for an outdoor garden wedding is the perfect opportunity to create an environment that is welcoming, stylish and intimate.

So, just as you’re carefully planning the ideal backyard setting for your special day, don’t forget to greet guests with stylish details and décor as they enter the front door. It's important to establish a good atmosphere at an event like this. With the right decoration, anything from an office party for; to an engagement ceremony can be made special. It just takes the right approach. When guests arrive the first thing they see is your home’s entrance. Set the mood and create impact with a beautiful floral garland draped over the doorway, candle-lit lanterns lining the walkway or a decorative, heart-shaped wreath on the front door. Miniature twinkle lights can add to the festive atmosphere and may be incorporated into plants, garlands or floral arrangements.

Create softness by loosely swaging sheer fabric overhead and around pillars, and for a touch of romance, sprinkle the entry floor with fragrant rose petals. Flank the entry steps and doorway with large garden containers overflowing with cheerful accents of color and, if space allows, place a sofa table, weathered trunk or wicker bench near the entrance to convey an artful flair. Accessorize with a garden-style centerpiece or cluster a collection of decorative items that follow the colors or theme chosen for the wedding. You may even want a special table for guests to pick up a glass of chilled champagne as they enter. Nothing could feel more festive!

A first and lasting impression will make your wedding unforgettable, so as guests arrive create an inviting atmosphere and extend a gracious welcome with the sound of soothing background music, the sparkle of scented, lit candles, an outdoor fountain garnished with floating blooms or your heartfelt, written greeting on a large chalkboard or easel. And, although this may seem obvious, be sure the sidewalk/entryway is free of dust/cobwebs and the area is cleared of any litter or clutter.

It is also appropriate to add special touches to the bathroom designated for your wedding guests. Change out accessories, pictures, towels and shower curtain to reflect the décor. Meaning, if you selected a tropical-themed wedding choose natural elements, such as glass floats and seashells, a woven sea grass rug and an orchid plant or bird-of-paradise to set the mood. At the very least update your bathroom with crisp linens and fresh flowers.

The fireplace mantel is another area to accessorize. Personalize this space with framed pictures of the bride and groom as well as a collection of mementos reminiscent of their courtship, interests or hobbies. Specify an area to highlight the wedding couple and your guests will linger, sharing the spirit and magic of the day.

Scatter fragrance and color throughout your home with lush, floral accents from the garden. Clear a table or sideboard and place a variety of several different-styled containers and vases filled with beautiful fresh-cut flowers, branches and greenery. Arrange the collection in varying heights to compose an interesting centerpiece. Include traditional garden accessories or an antique birdcage with votive candles tucked inside and, quite simply, you have transformed a tabletop into a casual garden retreat.

Design your front entrance to capture the wedding’s mood. Have fun and create surprises that will not only ‘welcome’ and ‘wow’ your family and guests but also ensure a long-remembered outdoor celebration.

Diana specializes in interior arrangement, room design makeovers and color consultations. She has assisted clients since 1986 and can be reached by phone at (951) 202-7859 or e-mail at Or, visit her on the Web at