Hosting a Picnic Wedding Reception

Steff Green • July 17, 2013
Hosting a Picnic Wedding Reception - WeddingWise Articles

Picnics are one of the delights of summer, so why not incorporate a picnic into your wedding? Picnic wedding receptions are fun, quirky, and a great way to save money on your reception costs.

I was honoured to officiate a wedding ceremony in 2012 for two close friends, who had a picnic reception at Fort Takapuna in Auckland. After the ceremony, guests were instructed to go and choose a blanket and a basket and find a spot on the lawns for their picnic. It was a beautiful day and a truly memorable reception!

Here are some ideas on hosting your own picnic wedding reception:

Invitations and Organisation

A picnic reception is still a pretty novel idea, so you’ll need to make it very clear on your invitations what is going on so people aren’t surprised or confused.  A great idea would be to create “treasure maps” or handwritten invitations directing your guests to your picnic location.

Figure out exactly how your picnic reception is going to work. Where will your picnic be taking place? It helps to have an indoor location (such as a hall) with a kitchen to store and prepare food and a space for people to sit if the weather turns bad.

Will you set up the blankets and baskets in advance, or allow guests to choose their own picnic location? Will you supply a couple of tables and some chairs for those older guests who might not want to sit on a blanket? Is there adequate shade from the sun or will you need umbrellas? Think about the types of guests you’ll have on your wedding day and what they will need to feel comfortable.

The Picnic Baskets

Scour second-hand shops, markets and TradeMe for picnic baskets and blankets. You’ll usually need one for every 6-8 people. Decorate the baskets with ribbons in your wedding colours, and fill each with an assortment of finger food platters, cutlery, crockery and drinks.

You may decide to include all your food in the baskets, or you may have separate tables where guests can come and fill their plates with food and return to their blankets.

Another idea is to create individual picnic baskets – one for every person, containing a range of treats and snacks, and perhaps a thank-you gift and personalised card. You can often buy miniature baskets from shops like Spotlight or online.


Of course, the star of any picnic should be the food! Great ideas for picnic reception food include: wraps and sandwiches, mini-quiches, pies and sausage rolls, pigs in blankets, BBQ meats, koftes, sushi, spring rolls, kebabs, salads, crackers and cheese. You can talk to a catering company about suppling food, or make some of the dishes yourself in advance.

For desserts you could have a selection of slices and biscuits, or individual cupcakes in a variety of flavours. At the picnic wedding I officiated, the couple booked a Mr. Whippy truck to come and deliver free ice creams to the guests.

You can also place drinks into your picnic baskets – bottles of champagne, sparkling water or homemade lemonade will never fail to disappoint.

Remember that any food you choose will need to be properly stored and/or heated. This is why it’s best to locate your picnic near a building with a kitchen.


Create a beautiful space around your chosen picnic spot using decorations. One of the simplest and most effective ways to decorate is to hang streamers or colourful Chinese lanterns from the trees around your spot. You might also decorate food or drinks tables with flowers and bright tablecloths.


At a picnic reception, you could provide a range of outdoor games to enjoy, such as frisbees, beach balls, and croquet. Picnic receptions are great for kid-friendly weddings as they have a wonderful, laid back atmosphere. At the picnic reception I attended the couple hired a troupe of medieval musicians to teach the guest medieval dances – it was an absolute hit!

Picnic weddings are a fun and novel way to save money on reception costs and create a truly unique and memorable day. Have you ever attended a picnic wedding? What other ideas could make a picnic a truly memorable wedding day?


Steff Green
Steff Green
WeddingWise Blogger

Steff Green is a freelance writer, blogger and alternative wedding celebrant based in Auckland. Check out her celebrant services and blog for fun, weird and unique weddings at And keep an eye out for her gothic wedding book, Till Death Do Us Part, coming out soon.

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