Party Al Fresco

A sweet-scented garden on a warm summer’s day is the perfect venue for a wedding, cocktail party, celebration or any other outdoor gathering. There’s a whole basket of choices when it comes to where you do this, from a sensational sculpture garden in Scotland to a hidden horticultural heaven in central London. With clever planning and a little help from the experts, you can have a peach of an outdoor event, come rain or shine!

Choosing the location is perhaps the biggest step you’ll take. There are hundreds of fabulous venues that will cater for your outdoor celebrations throughout the UK, and gorgeous gardens feature high on the list of essentials, especially for weddings. What bride doesn’t want to have a wonderful backdrop to her photos?

Most event venues have organisers who will help plan your special event. Find one you click with and the whole process will be much easier. If you want to organise your wedding or party yourself, there are several really good websites and magazines dedicated to party planning. If you choose this option, give yourself plenty of time as the big day can come around alarmingly quickly!

So where to go for your special day? Why not make like Harry and Meghan and choose a royal palace or a castle with stunning formal gardens, nestling within acres of landscaped loveliness.

There are many more stately, historic and unusual properties dotted around the UK that will be delighted to host your event. For example, a cornucopia of gorgeous gardens and terraces, and a perfect lawn just crying out for a party, can be found at The Lost Orangery in Wiltshire. Raithwaite Estate in Yorkshire has 100 acres of romantic gardens with lots of sheltered nooks and endless opportunities for fabulous photos. Marsham Court Hotel in Dorset is a cosy, bijou venue with a sweet, private, sun-filled garden offering fabulous coastal views.

If it’s central London you’re going for, then we have to big-up our own offering – an award-winning garden, nestled against the banks of the Thames with incredible views across London. The grounds and the awe-inspiring splendour of the Inn’s buildings are a world away from the hustle and bustle of the London streets and ooze centuries of history – a perfect choice for a city wedding party, celebration or corporate event.

If you’re a super-keen horticulturalist, you can choose a Royal Horticultural Society venue that has amazing collections of plants from around the world, in wonderful landscaping just crying out to be photographed (with or without guests!).

Want something a little quirkier for your outdoor ‘do’? Perhaps the rustic and bosky, Fforest in Pembrokeshire - a 200-acre farm that can be yours for an entire weekend, with on-site Tipis, a tiny pub and secret sauna. Jupiter Artland, a contemporary sculpture garden just outside Edinburgh, shows off its incredible art via the dramatic landscapes of the gardens. Dating back to 1820, the Swiss Garden in Bedfordshire asks you to find your way round winding paths, floral arches and across vast lawns to find the quaint Swiss Cottage - ideal for magical and fairy tale weddings.

Some of the latest wedding and party trends are veering towards the relaxed and unusual. You’ve heard of ice cream buffets and dessert tables… flower bars are the next big thing, according to Easy Weddings. A flower bar is an array of fresh flowers scattered on a table so that guests may create their very own flower crowns, corsages, take-home bouquets or use the petals as confetti. We’re also seeing many more beloved pets taking a leading role in the big day. And why not? They’re a huge part of your family and should get pride of place!

Whilst traditional catering options are still on the menu, novelty ways of serving food or serving culturally-themed food are becoming increasingly popular, particularly when it comes to outdoor events. Options include food trucks that serve trendy street food, Gelati stations, cocktail stations, wine and cheese stations, and gourmet barbecues.

Quirky or formal, haute cuisine or vegan, it’s time to start turning those dreams into a reality. We hope your event is beautifully organised – and really special!