A few tiki torches are all well and good, but what do you do when you really want to decorate your space for a special occasion? If you're having a wedding reception in a garden, park, or even a backyard affair, consider renting a labyrinth for the occasion. It's not as crazy as it sounds; for a fairly modest price, you can put up a replica of some of the world's most elegant garden mazes. There are even some options for indoor labyrinths, too!
Designing Your Maze
Give some thought to the feel of your maze. Do you want tall, thick hedges on either side that create narrow passageways between? Do you want lower hedges, say, at knee height, so your guests can see and wave to people at other locations in the maze? Perhaps you don’t want any height to your maze at all, and simply want a decorative pattern on the ground that people can step over if they tire of the puzzle.
The shape of your maze is important, too. A unicursal maze, also called a circuit maze, has only one path from beginning to end. Participants can't get lost; they simply have fun following the maze's twists and turns. A multicursal maze, on the other hand, has multiple branches, one of which leads to the finish point and some of which come to dead ends. An island maze has many path options, many of which can lead to the finish, so your participants have multiple chances of choosing the correct one.
You can design your ideal maze from scratch, or you can look online for examples of famous mazes and model your maze after one you like. Many historical gardens and palaces have world-famous mazes that can be scaled down and simplified to work with your setting.
What will you put at the center? From simple centers like a circle of grass to art pieces and fountains, the center of your maze should provide some reward for the task of getting there. You may want to get playful and set up a prize for the first person to make it through. Alternatively, if your maze is big enough, you may want to lead the party inside and have your ceremony in the center.
Creating the Labyrinth
Now that you've chosen a maze design, you have several options for bringing it to life for your special occasion. You can rent hedges, real or artificial, from a garden or party rentals company. You can rent a maze design to spread on the ground, either indoors or outdoors. Or, you can start planning early and actually design a living labyrinth in your own backyard space.
Renting Living Hedges
You can create a living labyrinth in no time by renting hedges. Even companies that don’t specialize in renting hedge mazes specifically can sometimes give you a bulk discount on renting decorative bushes so that you can create your own walk-through maze. Don’t want to worry about keeping living plants healthy? You can create the same effect with artificial hedges as well. The important part is the novelty of the maze itself.
If you're considering a rental company, be sure to ask what services are provided with your payment. Will they move the hedges into place for you and collect them after the event? What equipment do they need to bring in? (If there's going to be a forklift involved, you may want to check with your venue that there is room for such machinery.) Also, ask your venue how long the hedge maze can stay up, if you plan on leaving cleanup for the next day, to make sure no charges are incurred.
Renting Portable Floor Designs
If you want to give the idea of a maze without most of the fuss, portable labyrinths are the best solution. You can rent or buy large, washable canvas sheets with pre-printed maze designs that can be stretched over any floor, indoors or outdoors. Your guests can traverse the maze and you can work it into your ceremony if you wish, but the maze won't provide a tripping hazard when not in use.
Pre-printed designs will cost a few thousand dollars for a maze that covers around 40 square feet. You can also plan a DIY painting project for considerably less money (and considerably more effort).
Making it Permanent
If you and your partner really fall in love with the idea of a garden maze, you may just decide it's the perfect wedding present to yourselves. In this case, don’t stop with a portable version! There are resources for you to make an actual hedge maze in your backyard with minimum effort.
You can find "garden templates" of full-size mazes that have been printed on weedblocking landscape fabric. Using these to create mazes is as simple as stretching the fabric over the area you'd like to cover and using some landscaping materials (such as rocks or wood chips) to fill in the paths. No weeds will grow to clutter the lines of your maze, and the pre-printed design will ensure that your maze looks symmetrical and well-planned. These range in price, depending on size, from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.
If you don’t want any pre-arranged structure, you can design a completely free-form maze by staking out the walls with fencing (chicken wire, latticed wood, or any type of structure that can support a vine will do) and planting a fast-growing vine every few feet along the edges. Look for hearty plants that grow vigorously with little encouragement, such as ivy. You may decide to use an edible plant, like a grapevine or a kiwi vine, so that your maze provides wanderers with periodic treats. Start building your maze at least a year ahead of time to ensure that it has reached full growth by your wedding date.
Get ready to answer a lot of questions about your maze. Your guests will be fascinated with your unusual and striking choice of landscaping, and such an interactive feature will be the focus of nearly as many cameras as the bride and groom. Whether you rent a hedge or flat maze for the day, or whether you invest in a permanent yard decoration, your maze will become a unique feature of your wedding décor–and you will be at the center of attention!