Pritchard is often asked if flowers from the garden can be used in bouquets or centrepieces. “It isn’t always practical,” she says, “unless the flowers have been picked at the right time and conditioned properly in order to be perfect for wedding photos.” Pritchard, who is helping to plan 25 backyard weddings this summer, says flowers from the garden work well for accent pieces. When extreme heat is forecast, she recommends putting flower arrangements outside only a few hours before guests arrive, making sure the flowers have a water source. Often the person hosting a backyard wedding creates container designs to complement the overall theme of the wedding. These can be displayed on rented pedestals and strategically situated at entrances to the yard, reception area, and tent. Pritchard says ranunculus is one of the most popular flowers for backyard weddings along with hydrangea, garden roses, veronica (speedwell), dahlias, astilbe, and sweet peas. Mixed greens such as snow on the mountain, hosta leaves and ferns are pretty and natural looking. While black, white and gold themes are popular for hotel weddings, Pritchard says pastel colours such as peach, ivory and soft green are favourites for backyard weddings. Also trending are bright colour groupings such as purple, fuchsia and magenta with ivory. Weddings often serve as the impetus to start or complete an outdoor project such as a canopy, archway, or pergola for getting married under. Pritchard says birchwood adds a rustic flavour. Weather is one of the biggest factors when planning a backyard wedding. At a moment’s notice, should extreme heat, pelting rain or high winds threaten to spoil the ceremony, the wedding must be able to transition seamlessly to an indoor setting. Daryl Doell, D’Lite Production (www.dliteinc.com), provides pole-free tents for backyard weddings capable of seating 200 or more guests. Erected a day or two prior to a wedding to allow time for decorating, Doell installs a subfloor over the entire ground surface and a dance floor which resembles parquet hardwood. Advantages, apart from the obvious one of guests being able to dance the night away on a smooth, level surface, include less ground moisture which can soak through shoes and control of mosquitoes that hide in the grass. When the sun begins to set, soft lighting extends the celebrations well into the night. Doell says almost every bride wants Paris-style cafe bistro string lighting with 11-watt clear incandescent bulbs for a warm romantic glow. For the area outside of a tent, Pritchard wraps mini lights on copper cords around wicker balls and places them throughout the garden. Hanging lanterns from trees, using real or LED candles also works well for illuminating a garden wedding. One of Pritchard’s clients is Cindy Proskurniak whose son and future daughter-in-law will be married this August at Proskurniak’s East St. Paul residence. Proskurniak is expecting 150 guests and says the timing of the wedding is perfect for many of her perennials such as Russian Sage, Goblin gallardia and heliopsis to put on a beautiful show. She plans to shear her border of Walker’s Low catmint nepeta for a second flush of blooms in August. Caesar’s Brother, a beardless Siberian iris, planted throughout her garden won’t be in bloom however the swordlike foliage and elegant vase-shape will be very attractive. Her husband, Mel, managed to restore, for the short term, an existing Shubert Chokecherry tree by removing numerous diseased branches. Proskurniak is relieved and says it will look wonderful for the wedding. For fragrance and colour, Proskurniak has planted many more annuals than usual, choosing mostly soft pinks and purples to complement the theme of the wedding. Container displays include creamy Bombshell hydrangeas underplanted with trailing blue lobelia. For consistency containers have been spray painted in flat black and Cindy has highlighted some areas with a hammered copper paint. In addition to renting a tent she also plans to rent a portable toilet. “A deluxe model,” said Proskurniak with a smile. As for new projects, her son, the groom-to-be, has built an outside bar for the patio. Deborah and Walter Hiebert have hosted seven backyard weddings since 2007. In August their six hectare property situated near Altona will be the setting for their son’s wedding, 200 guests have been invited. Mature trees surround the property which includes a large open space of manicured lawn and plenty of room for parking. For the wedding ceremony the bride will walk down a long, curved pathway that leads to a vine-covered arbor overlooking a large flowerbed seeded with pink lavatera, cosmos, and zinnias. The Hieberts’ picturesque property is dotted with elements that serve as ideal backdrops for rustic vintage style weddings. A small, single room building called a summer kitchen with its original white wooden siding is accented with window boxes and flowerbeds planted with peonies. It was easy to fall in love with the sight of an old wooden granary that sits in a shady part of the yard. The Hieberts have installed windows and shutters and added a front porch with cedar shakes. Inside, the ceiling is draped with billows of burlap with string lighting. The granary has been used for serving desserts at weddings. A quaint metal basin that serves as an outdoor garden sink hooks up to a spigot for guests who visit the nearby outhouse which was built from old barn wood and features a grapevine wreath on its door. The path leading to the outhouse is lined with thyme, bergenia, columbine and Solomon’s Seal. One of the backdrops for many wedding photos is in front of a vinecovered wooden tack shed with a rustic split rail porch railing. I would love to own the Hiebert’s thick walled wooden farm trough that sits nearby. Reinvented as a planter, this year it is brimming with canna lilies and nasturtiums. Kasandra Leafloor is a studio florist who owns Purple Peony Wedding and Event Florals and also works for Academy Florists. This summer she is participating in the planning of three backyard weddings.
A rustic or vintage look is all the rage for backyard weddings. This old wooden granary set among shady trees and tall zinnias is the perfect backdrop for photos.
In just a few months, this East St. Paul backyard will be the scene for a wedding.