A vintage garden wedding in the Gold Coast hinterland – what could be more perfectly romantic than tying the knot in the middle of a field full of long grass and wildflowers and later dining in a candlelit wonderland of tables set beneath a forest of trees adorned with chandeliers and fairy lights?
Rather than following the crowd and opting to go for one of the cookie cutter packages I’d seen on offer at many of the popular Gold Coast wedding venues, I was convinced that an open-air hinterland wedding set amidst the stunning natural beauty of Shamba Malaika would allow me to make my dream day so much more individual and memorable. Little did I know the road to a beautifully bespoke outdoor ceremony and reception would be paved with pitfalls! Here are 7 wish-someone-had-told-me essentials to help make your garden wedding on the Gold Coast a superb, stress-free occasion.
1. In planning a garden wedding Gold Coast brides need to be prepared to work from scratch and hire absolutely everything
One of the advantages of holding a function in an established indoor venue is that much of the infrastructure needed to hold a successful event is already in place. With a garden wedding Gold Coast couples have the benefit of loads of flexibility but the downside is that they will be faced with many more decisions than in a typical wedding and a vast number of details to coordinate. Depending on your chosen venue, you may need to hire, set up, clean and pack down everything from toilets to dancefloors, mobile coldrooms to lighting, and even plates, cutlery and the kitchen sink to clean them in! If you’re not a details person consider hiring a wedding planner to ensure that all bases are covered and reduce the overwhelm that can detract from your enjoyment of the special day.
2. Always have a plan B in case of inclement weather
If you’re envisioning making your vows beneath a clear blue sky surrounded by gently swaying foliage and flowers then you may not love the idea of shelling out for a marquee that might not even be used. However do yourself a favour and put a back-up plan in place early on in case foul weather forces a retreat under cover. There’s no doubt that having booked a garden wedding Gold Coast brides will be checking their weather apps religiously in the week leading up to the event! Don’t make it even more stressful on yourself by failing to incorporate a contingency plan for worst case scenarios. Some public parks such as Laguna Park, Harley Park and Cascade Gardens have gazebos that can be utilised in the event of a downpour .
3. Be prepared for all weather conditions – including heat and wind
Keep in mind that for Gold Coast garden weddings it’s not just rain that is the enemy, but also heat and wind. Make sure you have enough shade for everyone in the heat of the day, especially while guests are waiting for the bridal party to arrive and while they are having their photos taken. Looking on the bright side this could represent at least one good use for a back-up marquee that doesn’t end up being used otherwise! If you’re holding your ceremony in a beachside park, such as Len Wort Park at Currumbin, or any spot that might encounter a strong breeze, then take note that wind can potentially topple arbours and decorative items, blow delicate flower arrangements and men’s button holes to pieces, lift unsecured marquees into the air, and generally cause mayhem with floaty fabrics and any hairstyle that hasn’t been cemented in place.
4. Remember that flowers will wilt when left outdoors in the heat of the day
As tempting as it may be to try to save money by cutting fresh flowers and foliage directly from the garden and using it to decorate your arbour and wedding aisle on the day, just bear in mind that any foliage that has not been properly bound by a florist is likely to wither or droop in the heat, ruining your otherwise perfect pictures. The same goes for bouquets of loose flower stems. For garden weddings on the Gold Coast you may want to opt for waxier flowers and foliage which are adapted to weather our hot climate.
5. Protect yourself against bugs and sunburn
Many brides and their families choose to be hands on in setting up the location in the lead-up to the wedding. If you are outdoors for any length of time beware that even on cloudy days you can still get sunburnt, and no bride wants to be baring beetroot red shoulders atop their strapless wedding gown! Be sure to take precautions and protect yourself from getting sunburnt. When planning a lakeside or rainforest garden wedding on the Gold Coast be sure to invest in plenty of citronella and insect repellent for guests to help keep the mosquitoes and midgies at bay.
6. Make sure your plan takes into account the lighting, electricity and running water provisions you need to function smoothly at your venue
Unfortunately when it comes to garden weddings Gold Coast City Council parks typically don’t have any power outlets to plug sound equipment into. You may encounter the same issue if your venue is in a remote location such as a farmer’s field. Be sure to arrange with your celebrant to bring along a portable microphone and speaker system so that your guests aren’t straining to hear your vows.
If your reception is also outdoors then you’ll need to carefully consider how you’ll supply sufficient power for the caterers, a DJ or band, and enough light that your guests won’t be helping themselves to a buffet dinner illuminated only by mobile phone! And don’t forget the battery operated LED lights for the portaloos – these should last all night. If there is no electricity supply, or the grid is not sufficient to support your power supply requirements, you may need to hire in some generators. Generally mobile caterers will also require running water to prepare meals and clean equipment and dishes after dinner so check that they can connect to a tap onsite, and if not you will need to ensure that an adequate water tank is on hand.
7. Don’t underestimate the amount of help you will require to facilitate an outdoor ceremony and reception
Our number one piece of advice is to make sure that you hire some experienced and helpful staff who can take the reins and allow you to relax and enjoy your day knowing that everything is under control. If you are holding an elaborate ceremony and reception in a private outdoor venue then it’s likely that the set up will commence one or two days prior to the event, then continue the day of the wedding. If you are planning a garden wedding in a Gold Coast City Council park, then you need to keep your styling relatively unfussy as your entire booking window is limited to 2 hours for set up, ceremony and pack down.
With an outdoor reception, you can expect pack down and clean-up to commence the night of the wedding then spill over into much of the following day, usually with an early start as contractors arrive to collect their hire items. Some Gold Coast wedding hire vendors charge an additional fee for weekend deliveries and collections. Make sure you know well ahead of time when you can gain access to the venue and what your curfew times are. Keep in mind that someone will need to be on-site to receive deliveries and direct the set up and pack down, so it’s a good idea to take the pressure off yourself and your family and just pay a professional to be in charge. Clear communication with your coordinator is imperative and having a written plan that can be shared with your army of helpers will mean things can get done quicker and people won’t need to wait on you to give them direction at every turn.
Finally, keep in mind then when you’re outside in nature sometimes things don’t turn out exactly the way you expected despite the best laid plans. If you do decide to go ahead and plan a garden wedding on the Gold Coast, make a quality decision to cast off any disappointments and enjoy your wedding day no matter what happens – you’ll set yourself up for success not only on the day of your marriage but for the rest of your happily ever after too.
Venue: Shamba Malaika, Currumbin Valley Vintage Furniture Stylists: Little White Chair Photography: When Elephant Met Zebra Bouquets: Skeleton Leaf Florist