Outdoor Wedding Ceremony and Reception

Your Stone Mountain Wedding

Ceremony and Reception with Room to Roam

With a large outdoor wedding area, your Wedding Day has the luxury of space and multiple sites. Here are some ideas to explore in taking advantage of all the outdoors can offer, at Stone Mountain Lodge and Cabins. Click Wedding Site to see the layout of our Pond-side Events area.

Ideas for a Greeting Area at the Garden


You can use the separate Garden Area before the Ceremony as a greeting place. Being close to the ceremony site the Garden Area is a great place for your guests to arrive and mingle in advance of your Ceremony. The view of the Pond and the natural scenery will help set the right mood. Refreshments for your guests such as water and soft drinks could be made available.

The tent and shelter at the Garden Area would help keep early arrivals comfortable before the ceremony. Then, an announcement, perhaps by your ushers, can be made a few minutes before the start of the Ceremony. The ushers would also escort honored guests and parents to specific seats.

The guest book and a photo collage of the couple can be set up on a table at the garden area. Wedding programs can also be made available. Idea – design them so they can be used as fans for a hot day. Or maybe consider folding Japanese fans as an extra wedding favor. The garden area could also be set up to receive wedding gifts. Another idea is to have light colored umbrellas available for that possible shower, or to double as parasols.

And don’t forget about music. The right background music at the greeting area can draw your guests to the right place and set the mood along with the natural surroundings. (Click Choosing Your Music for ideas for selecting wedding music at Stone Mountain Lodge and Cabins.)

Decorating the Arbor Area for Your Ceremony

The focal point of the Ceremony site is circular and edged in river stones. It is slightly higher than the rest of the Arbor area which works nicely as a natural stage. Lush greenery behind the Arbor backs against the mountain. The natural stage is highlighted by our vine-covered Arbor.

You may enhance this with your own florals, lace and accents. Supplementing nature with your own floral themes will allow unique personalization for your wedding.

Some ideas for decorating are to place floral arrangements along the circular shape defined by stone and coordinated flowers along side the Arbor. Scatter rose petals or other natural flowers around the stage or along the aisle for more of a romantic effect.

Let your florist accent with their creative ideas for the specific time of year and your desires.

Wedding Ceremony Procession and Guest Seating Ideas


Since the Arbor Area Ceremony site has a circular part, edged in stones, that may be used like a stage, the seating can be set up in a semi circular way (see Circular Seating Setup). Everyone can be close enough to hear your exchange your Wedding Vows, and see everything. Most couples leave an “aisle” open in the center to walk up. As more seating is arranged around the circle, this aisle becomes more defined. If a longer aisle is desired, seating can be stacked farther back.

Another idea is to leave a path in the front of the stone circle where the wedding party can enter from the left side. They would walk across the front of the audience to the break in the stones, where the “stage” is entered.

Entry from the side can work nicely since everyone will be able to see without having to turn around and look up the aisle. If arrival is from the left, the recession can be down the stone steps to the right.

You may stage the arrival of the wedding party in many ways. For example, aside from the couple, the rest of the wedding party can assemble at the Garden Area as guests are being seated. If you have a cabin reserved, one of the couple can be getting ready at the cabin while the other may be at the Dressing Tent. In this scenario, the procession for all but the couple could start from the Garden Area.

The entrance of the couple themselves can be simple and more traditional. Perhaps the bride will be escorted from a cabin, by an attendant, to be met by her father at the aisle, while her partner is waiting at the Arbor. Or, the couple’s entrance can be more creative, especially since the outdoors lets everyone see more of an arrival. So, one partner can arrive in a fancy convertible sports car or come by horse drawn carriage.

You see, you have many ways to make your Stone Mountain wedding procession special to you.

Ideas for Departing the Ceremony Site

The couple’s departure from the Ceremony Arbor can be as dramatic as you would like. They can go down the Stone Steps and be showered with lavender. If the newly married couple were more adventurous, the bride can be taken away in a row boat or a canoe across the pond, as a symbol of the beginning of their new life together. What an opportunity for pictures! Everyone can watch from ashore and head back to the garden area for cocktails.

Throwing grains, is customary to wish the newly married couple good luck and prosperity. Being an outdoor wedding, there are more options. The toss could be made available at the greeting area before the ceremony. This way they can be tossed by your guests, right from their seats, as the couple make their exit.

Or, more traditionally, the guests and wedding party can be instructed to exit down the stone steps, pick up a toss bag, and wait at the base of the steps, leaving a path for the couple. Then the couple descend down the steps being showered by the guests, similar to leaving a chapel (See More on Tosses).

Ideas for the Time between the Ceremony and Reception


This is a time for taking separate pictures of the couple and the wedding party. There are many more picture opportunities for outdoor weddings. And with a pond, ducks, red cliffs, a mountain trail, and mountain cabins, your photographer will have trouble containing his creativity! (Click for ideas about outdoor wedding pictures at Stone Mountain Lodge and Cabins.)

It’s also an excellent time, and probably just a chance unless you plan it, for the couple to catch some time alone and take a breather. Your cabin (if you have reserved one) or the Dressing Tent is a nice place for the two of you to have a short retreat. Or, taking a leisurely stroll around the pond can help provide a moment to let the idea of just being married sink in.

At the same time, your guests can relax by the pond, have hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in the garden area, take a walk, and make use of the restrooms. There are wooden chairs by the pond, and other benches and picnic tables around. For those who are staying overnight, they have an opportunity to go back to their room or cabin too.

One good idea is to have the reception seating chart or table cards that show guests where they will be seated for the reception, available at the garden area. Also, if there are guests who arrive after the ceremony, this is a natural place to meet, along with a place for receiving wedding gifts, and anything else that was set up for greeting before the ceremony.

Another good idea is to have the kids introduced to the baby sitter at this time. This allows parents to chat and enjoy this time too. One specific activity could be planned for them to get to know each other. Then, later after dinner, they can get together again to do some fishing, go for a hike, go swimming, or do some other activities at a picnic table, for example.

In the mean time, the final setup of the reception site can be done. This would include moving chairs from the ceremony site, and any other final details your caterer, DJ, and florist might have in mind. Since your guests can mingle at the garden area, and have plenty of room to wander, the final setup happens completely behind the scenes.

Pond-side Wedding Reception Ideas

There is no limit to outdoor wedding reception ideas, especially when you have everything you need close by, like restrooms and power. The atmosphere of a Wedding Reception in a Tent provides a more unique and intimate feel than any banquet hall, even without elaborate decoration. If you did want to decorate according to a theme, for example, the site is available to you for the entire day, so you’ll have less pressure to set-up and take down in a short amount of time.

Since it is more likely the weather will be nice, the tent sides will be either up, or not on at all. As a result, the outdoors will naturally extend your reception site. So, ideas for setting up tables can also take into account the outside area immediately around the tent. Just make sure all can work inside the tent in the event the weather does not cooperate.

You may want to envision what will be seen from inside the tent and how things would work with people wandering in and out from time to time. At the pond area, the view from the tent to the west is over the pond. Your guests will mostly come and go from the north, or in the direction of the garden area and ceremony site. Guests may also be able to walk from the South side of the tent, to the South side of the pond and around.

So much can be done in our Reception Tent! Your setup will certainly vary depending on how many guests you have and whether your affair is based on a buffet, a plated dinner, or passed hors d’oeuvres. A dance floor, head table, and a spot for a cake table may also be factors. But remember, working out these types of details should be fun. If it’s not, don’t sweat it, it will work out anyway!

One last thing. Having a baby sitter is a good idea, particularly if a good number of kids are expected. An outdoor wedding makes it much easier to entertain them, and for them to have a great time too!