Apr 23

Dining Al Fresco

Al Fresco Wedding | The Day's Design | Ashley Slater Photography

Living in Michigan means that summer is a treasure.  It flies by in a blink and we try to savor every minute of it knowing that chilly breezes, crunching leaves and the first flurries of snow are just around the corner, soon to be followed by mountains of white and sub-zero temperatures.  So it’s no wonder that so many brides dream of saying “I do” outdoors, celebrating not only love but also summer’s bounty.

The recent trend of inspirational images provided by brides include lots of long, winding tables, earthy tones and dinners under the stars with just a few twinkle or cafe lights thrown into the mix.  Open, airy and fresh.

However, I’ve never actually planned a wedding where this vision was brought to life.  Rather, this open-air concept is replaced in favor of a tented reception.  Venues and properties tell you that you must rent a tent for your dinner, but is this really necessary?

It’s a risky questions to answer.  I think tents provide some security, a backup plan and give us a defined location for the party.  They give us protection from the sun’s burning rays and a covering should the clouds break loose.  But what I’ve observed is as soon as dinner is complete, people generally stray away from the tent.  Conversations are held in the fresh evening air as people venture around the property.  People don’t like to be confined.

Some points to consider when debating a tent verses dining al fresco:

  • What is the purpose of the tent?  Are you trying to define the space?  Is it serving as protection from the elements?  Do you love the look?
  • Is the reception tent also going to serve as a backup ceremony location?  Rainy days mean that your outdoor ceremony might have to be relocated and the most common backup plan (for those having the ceremony and reception on the same property) is moving the nuptials under the protection of the tent.
  • Is heat/shade a concern?  Think about what time people will be under the tent and where the sun will be located.  You could possibly host dinner under the shade of a tree or perhaps you’ve timed it as the sun starts to set, which will lessen the fury of it’s rays.  If it’s an afternoon meal however, guests might appreciate this guaranteed shady spot.
  • In what month are you hosting your event?  July and August tend to bring the most heat, regardless of where in the country you’re located.  In Michigan, June and September seem to be a little cooler – or at least less predictable.
  • Are there other buildings nearby?  I’ve found that many barn weddings are accompanied by tents simply as overflow since barn might not be able to accommodate the entirety of your guests.  Depending upon the size of the barn or other building, this might be an alternative shady hideaway or ceremony backup plan.  Having some lounge seating will provide a great hangout spot for guests but allow you to keep the majority of your event outside.

The above picture was from an end of summer al fresco dinner with The Rental Company and Ashley Slater Photography.  What the picture doesn’t show is how cold it was, tented or not, there was no protection from that!



Join our list

Receive our weekly updates, travel tips, and of course stories of couples in love!