Having a warm-weather wedding on the water? Looking for built-in beauty with tons of activity options? Waterfront weddings are appealing to many engaged couples — and with good reason. If you’re in search of lake wedding ideas for a romantic, unique, and unforgettable wedding day, we’ve got you covered!
We put together a list of 33 of our favorite lake wedding ideas that are sure to impress your guests. From the venue to the menu and everything in between, we have ideas for every part of your big day.
33 lake wedding ideas you have to see
Getting married at a lake can lead to stunning photographs and provide a wide array of activities options for guests. It’s no wonder they’re so popular, especially during warm weather months. So, what can you do to make your lake wedding stand out?
Let’s find out.
Ideas for your lakeside wedding ceremony
1. Make an entrance by arriving on a boat. You don’t need to get your clothes wet to make a splash on your wedding day. Arrive at the ceremony on a sailboat, yacht, or canoe — whichever suits your style.
2. Say “I do” under a floral or wooden arch. Incorporate seasonal flowers or foliage into your wedding altar decorations to match the natural beauty of your surroundings.
3. Walk down the aisle under crossed paddles. Are you and your partner passionate about kayaking, rafting, or other water sports? Use crossed paddles or oars as aisle decorations or as the frame for your altar.
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4. Help guests beat the heat. Lake weddings are popular in late spring, summer, and early fall months, so hot weather can certainly be an issue. If a scorcher is in the forecast, have paper fans, small electric fans, and plenty of ice water available to help your guests keep cool.
Theme ideas for your dream day by the water
5. Give guests lake-themed gifts or party favors. Incorporate your love of the lake into small details of your wedding day. Give guests an embroidered bag of flat stones to skip across the lake, miniature boats with the date and location of your event, or tiny captain hats to sport around the shore.
6. Create a thematic menu. Are there catfish, bass, or other tasty swimmers in the lake? If you’re getting married by a lake beloved by fishermen, having a fresh catch on your dinner menu is a must. Include seasonal herbs, fruits, and vegetables that grow locally to both save money and add freshness to your wedding dishes.
7. Craft a list of on-theme cocktails for the bar menu. Have the bartender mix up a Maritime Martini, Blue Lagoon, or a classic Dark and Stormy to serve guests. Including a few water-related drink ideas that fit your wedding theme is a quick and easy way to add a little fun to cocktail hour.
8. Instead of a guest book, have guests sign a bench, a buoy, or life jacket. After the wedding, seal the bench to display on your own dock or display a buoy full of well-wishes in the boathouse.
Lake wedding ideas for attire
9. Comfortable footwear is your friend. Consider shoes that will be comfortable to wear outdoors. Sandals are an appropriate alternative to sharp heels that will likely dig into the ground. “Boat shoes” are an on-theme option for all guests that are just dressy enough for a casual lake wedding.
10. Wear an outfit you can move in. If you plan on including an activity or two, wear an outfit you can jump, run, and dance in. Additionally, engaged couples should outline how casual or or formal the dress code is clearly in wedding invitations so that guests can prepare accordingly.
11. Forgo the classic gown. Brides shouldn’t feel locked into wearing an extravagant wedding dress for their outdoor wedding. A lake venue is the perfect place to get married in a summer dress or wrap skirt. Looking to really shake things up? Consider wearing a jumpsuit for your walk down the aisle, or check out these 26 short wedding dress ideas you’re sure to love.
12. Set swimming expectations. Lake weddings can be as laid back or as formal as couples want. Are you interested in hosting a casual wedding by the lake where your guests can frolic in and on the water? If your venue allows swimming in any areas, or has water sports available for guests, tell your wedding guests to bring suits and towels ahead of time. Add applicable information on your wedding website if it wasn’t included in invitations. If swimming is not allowed, inform your guests as well to clear up any misconceptions and avoid potential trouble on the big day.
13. Dress the wedding party more casually. Allow your wedding party to take part in the casual style of an outdoor lake wedding by dressing down a bit. Dress the groomsmen in khakis instead of heavy suits, for example, or set up the bridal party with a complementary palette of summer dresses to choose from.
Photography ideas for your lake wedding
14. Take wedding photos in a canoe or on a dock. In addition to the stunning built-in backdrop, lake wedding venues offer a variety of locations to take your wedding photos. Engaged couples flock to Gulfport Lake in Mississippi to get hitched at The Dock Bar & Grill, where the enormous outdoor deck area showcases stunning waterfront views and creates the perfect backdrop for a once-in-a-lifetime photo-op.
15. Take a dip with your partner. For the last photo set in your photography session, go all out and jump into the lake with your new spouse. The stunt will create unique photos that capture the spirit of the day and give your guests a great memory to take back home.
16. Take wedding party photos on a long dock. Make sure that the dock is sturdy and balanced, however, before loading up your wedding party. An accidental dip would be an unwelcome surprise.
17. Take “fancy” photos on a yacht or other extravagant setting. Do you love to laugh with your soon-to-be-spouse? Take a few silly pictures to mix in with more traditional wedding photographs. Feed your partner grapes on the deck of a luxury yacht or take photos draped in costume jewelry and oversized sunglasses, for example. Lean into the stereotype and go full “lake people” for a few of your funnier photos.
Lake wedding ideas for decor
18. Help direct guests where to go with decorative signage. Are you dreaming of a lake wedding with a rustic vibe? Use custom wooden signs to tell your guests where to go on the big day. Part of a family of sailors? Use life preservers to help guests find their seats or guide them to the reception area.
19. Paper lanterns are an affordable statement piece. Elegant and inexpensive, hanging paper lanterns are a wonderful addition to any lake wedding. Choose a single shade to add a non-invasive pop of color or choose multiple colors that are compatible with the theme and venue.
20. Blow your wedding guests away with oversized balloons. Like paper lanterns, oversized balloons are inexpensive decorations that make a big impact. It’s incredibly important to ensure that all balloons are disposed of properly at the end of the event, however, as balloons are harmful to birds and other lake wildlife. Eco-friendly weddings for the win.
21. Create eye-catching centerpieces that complement a lake wedding. Use seasonal fruit, seashells, sand, rope, or other items that represent summers by the like to create DIY wedding table decorations that capture the spirit of the moment.
22. Make the most of the greenery available to you. Is your lake wedding venue located right on the shoreline or surrounded by trees? Simple embellishments such as garland or glass beading can quickly turn trees and shrubbery into outdoor wedding decorations.
23. Hang long, lush flowers for decoration in your fairytale wedding. Couples who opt for a lake wedding are sure to be surrounded by natural beauty on their wedding day. For a true ethereal fairytale setting, hang lush floral garland from above.
Lake wedding ideas for the reception
24. Use a canoe, kayak, or other vessel as a bar. Do you happen to have a canoe or kayak lying around? Fill it with ice to use it as a festive cooler or turn it into the actual bar. Your guests will be stunned by the creativity.
25. Have a sparkling send-off. Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure is a venue and resort that specializes in accommodating indoor and outdoor weddings for up to 200 guests. Get hitched in the Beachside Wedding Gazebo followed by a sparkler send-off at this picturesque waterfront wedding venue in North Carolina.
26. Include outdoor wedding lawn games. In addition to a dance floor, set up some oversized outdoor lawn games or classic outdoor party games for guests to play during the reception. Wedding lawn games like cornhole, giant Jenga, and ring toss are all crowd-pleasers sure to provide some outdoor entertainment at your wedding.
27. If you can’t arrive by boat, depart by boat for a big send-off. Some people prefer to walk down the aisle, even at a lake wedding. Opt for a grand wedding exit instead and wave goodbye to friends and family from the back of a boat.
28. Release lanterns over the water after the sun goes down. For a more elegant send-off, release eco-friendly sky lanterns over the water as the sun sets on your lake wedding day. Check with the venue ahead of time to ensure it’s allowed.
Venue ideas for the perfect lake wedding
29. Choose a beautiful outdoor venue that has stunning views built right in. Imagine a beautiful mountain backdrop or setting sun highlighting your wedding photos. Look for venues that feature lakefront space for stunning pictures and views that are sure to impress your guests. Spring Lake Venue in Pearl, Mississippi is surrounded by acres of natural beauty and can accommodate a waterfront wedding for up to 200 guests.
30. Use Adirondack chairs, hammocks, or other thematic seating styles. Find a venue that offers a wide variety of different setup styles. Including picnic tables or log seats around a fire fit provides guests with different spaces to enjoy a cocktail, play games, or catch up with old friends after the ceremony.
31. Look for all-in-one venues to accommodate the entire wedding weekend. Having your ceremony, reception, and other events and one location will allow your guests to enjoy spending “a weekend at the lake.” Couples who book at Catalpa Grove at Lakewood Park in central Pennsylvania can say “I do” in the large timber framed cathedral before toasting marshmallows with friends and family by the lake.
32. Look for a venue with a fireworks display. Many lakeside wedding and event venues have the ability to include fireworks over the water. Book at the Windmill House in Prescott, Arizona if you want your wedding day to end with a bang!
33. Explore summer camps as a unique venue for your lake wedding. Many summer camps are located right on lakes for outdoor recreations and have dining halls, outdoor seating, and tons of activities available right on site. During the non-summer months, camp owners may choose to rent out the camp as event space. Camp Friendship, located in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, can accommodate a lake wedding for as many as 300 guests.
Put these lake wedding ideas to good use!
Want to make sure the photos from your lake wedding are everything you want them to be? Checking out these 12 expert wedding photography tips for couples is a great place to start.
Check out lake wedding venues for any type of budget!