BBQ Wedding Ideas & Tips For Planning A Wedding Reception

A wedding is undoubtedly one of the most special events in a person’s life. Rich with memories, close connections and cherished moments that will last a lifetime. In this same vein, a properly planned BBQ cookout can also be a very special event. Rich with the flavor of smoked meat as well as renewed connections with family and friends.

So, it should come as no surprise that more and more wedding receptions end up also being down-home BBQ cookout extravaganzas! Of course, the joining of these two special events isn’t something to be taken lightly. Truth be told, if you are going to feed a herd of loved ones, then you are going to need to be fully prepared.

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the important details that need to be addressed when marrying a wedding to a classic BBQ cookout.

BBQ Wedding Invitations

Before the first smoking wood is lit, before the first spice rub is stirred together, you’ll need to send out invitations to your BBQ wedding. The goal here is to make sure your potential guests realize that it’s not just a wedding and not just a BBQ cookout. That it is indeed both!

Custom printing the invitations to look like a checkerboard tablecloth might be a nice touch. Though it might not be in everyone’s budget. If you want to go with a more traditional wedding invitation, you could still do something like replacing the elegant sheet of vellum with wax or butcher paper.

Choosing The Décor & Flowers

Whether you are having your reception at a traditional banquet hall, or you’re just putting up a pavilion tent near the family barbecue pit, you still want to be mindful of both themes. One easy way to do this is to start at the tables. Tablecloths with a barbecue theme and a central paper towel holder will help keep the functional levels of a barbecue in place, while still letting you have a lot of blank canvass for keeping the decorations elegant.

Choosing the right kind of flowers are key to matching the decor. The choices shouldn’t stray so far from traditional outdoor weddings. Sunflowers, lilies, roses, and even daisies make great choices.  Being that its outdoors, you may even consider hanging garden flowers such as petunias, geraniums, fuchsia, begonia, portulaca, bacopa, lobelia, geraniums nasturtiums or osteospermum. A popular choice when in season are bleeding hearts

While you’re at it, you might want to also offer some large barbecue bibs and wet naps. After all, there will be a lot of people in very nice clothing. Especially the bride in a flowing white dress, who may not be comfortable being so close to a big bottle of red sticky barbecue sauce.

When it comes to glassware, canning jars for water, sweet tea, or beer sitting alongside champagne flutes can be great to keep both themes alive on the wedding party’s table.

Lawn Games For Outdoor Entertainment

If you are planning to host your BBQ cookout wedding reception at a friend or relative’s home, or perhaps a local park, then chances are you have some room to work with. Rather than keeping everyone cooped up in a pavilion tent or banquet hall, you might want to think about opening up the doors to offer your guests some outdoor games to play.

The following are some very popular, and reasonably priced games for multiple guests to play.

Corn Hole

Also known to many as “Bags” to some, is one of the most popular outdoor party games. If you have multiple sets you could even put together a corn hole tournament with brackets. This lets some people play while others mingle and socialize. It also keeps people from not being tied down to just one place.

Bocce Ball

While it’s sometimes thought of as being more of a European game that has really caught on in the United States and Canada. It’s one of those games that takes a moment to learn and a lifetime to master. Someone throws a small ball, and everyone else tries to get their larger balls close to it. There’s also a competitive edge in that you can knock someone else’s ball out of the way!

Outdoor Jumbo Jenga

This is the classic Hasbro stack of wooden blocks on steroids. The blocks are larger, the tower is taller, and when it finally does crash down it tends to be dramatic!

Kan Jam

This is a backyard take on the increasingly popular game of frisbee golf. Here again, you can play in a small group or put together a tournament to keep guests mingling in and out of the game.

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Choosing A Service Style For A BBQ Cookout Wedding Reception

When it comes to the style of service you have three choices, each has its own pros and cons.

Individual or Plated Service

This is more common in a banquet hall where there is a large staff bringing plated meals to each individual based on a food order that they put in with their RSVP. This option is more common for a traditional wedding reception than it is for a BBQ cookout.

Family Style

This is a little more common in traditional weddings than at a BBQ cookout. Especially if you will be serving different types of meat and a wide range of side dishes. Though if you are somewhere like Texas, where beef is the known commodity or the Carolinas where pulled pork and whole hog are kings, then family-style service is a great way to keep guests in their seats for the wedding speeches and announcements.

Buffet Style

This style of service is more common for a BBQ cookout. Especially if you’re going to be service multiple types of meat. That way people can take what they want of beef, pork, chicken, or fish, as well as the sides.

Wedding Cookout

Choosing A Menu For A BBQ Cookout Wedding Reception

Depending on where you live, there can be some already entrenched notions about what to put on your BBQ wedding reception menu. For example, if you’re in Texas, then beef brisket, ribs, and link sausages are already a locked-in option, and you might be looking instead at side dishes.

There can be some strong opinions about what to serve. In general, sticky red sauce barbecue is often the most challenging for wedding guests wearing nice clothes. So, that might influence whether you want people to roll up their sleeves for a rib feed or simply offer them pulled pork that they can sauce as they see fit.

Once you’ve chosen the main meats you want to offer at the BBQ wedding reception, you can start to dial in the side dishes. Some of the most popular include:

  • Cornbread
  • Baked Beans
  • Grits
  • Traditional Coleslaw
  • Italian Coleslaw
  • Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Texas Toast White Bread
  • Garlic Bread
  • Potato Salad
  • Burnt Ends
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Au Gratin Potatoes
  • French Fries
  • Nachos
  • Potato Chips
  • Collard Greens
  • Mesclun Salad
  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Mock Crab Salad
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
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