Congratulations! You have decided on an outdoor wedding, which means you have a made a big decision about your wedding day, what it will look like, and where it will be held. 🙂
Outdoor weddings are romantic and beautiful. However, they aren’t as easy as they may look. Outdoor weddings come with different caveats and pitfalls than indoor weddings, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to shine on your wedding day (and not in a “Wow it’s hot out here!” kind of way!).
- Make your guests comfortable. Think about what the weather will likely be at the time of day and month of the year for your outdoor wedding. Sunny and hot? Don’t leave your guests uncomfortably melting – have your ushers give guests ice-cold bottles of water or lemonade as they are seated. Offer a beautiful fan so that guests may cool themselves (consider printing your wedding program on the fan). Don’t forget to have plenty of sunscreen on hand as well and bug repellent wipes, depending on your location and the season. For a very warm location, look into renting large electric fans (don’t forget a generator) and/or a tent or umbrellas to shade the suns rays. If it will be cold and damp, ensure your guests know to wear extra layers. You might want to have lap blankets or lovely shawls on hand, or rent portable heaters.
- Have a backup plan.
What will you do if it rains? The ideal outdoor wedding location has an indoor location waiting, just in case. Many brides and grooms opt to have their ceremony outside and reception inside. In a pinch, the tables can be scooted to the back of the room during the ceremony. A tent is another option, but only for light to moderate rain storms. A heavy rain will soak the ground underneath, leaving guests with soggy and muddy shoes. Consider window sides for the tent to keep rain from blowing in at an angle – no fun!
- Plan for Wind. Many outdoor weddings suffer from windy conditions. Avoid light fabrics like chiffons and china silks in your dress and the bridesmaid dresses. Tell your hairstylist that you’ll be having an outdoor wedding so she or he can plan a style that won’t leave you looking like Cousin It!
- Can everybody hear? When you picture your dream wedding at the beach, you’re probably not hearing the roaring of the waves, the rushing wind, or the local kids running and playing around you. Rent a sound system with clip mikes for the bride, groom and officiate. Your planner is easily able to arrange this for you.
- Decorations! One of the bonuses of an outdoor wedding is the natural beauty around you. But you still might want or need additional decor. Visit the site a week before your wedding to make sure the grass is mown, the ground raked, and the flowers have bloomed. If your wedding is at a public park, you may want to ask the groomsmen or friends to do this the morning of your ceremony. If it’s been an especially cold season, you may need to supplement the flowers with some potted bulbs from a florist. Other decorations you may want to consider include an arch or trellis to focus the ceremony and frame the bride and groom as they say their vows. Strings of lights or lanterns in the trees, luminarias, torches, canvas canopies (so easy to DIY!), or farolitas are also great choices.
- Those pesky flying things. Offer bug repellent wipes as guests arrive at the ceremony. Trust me, your guests will thank you! There are also companies who will spray your wedding area to keep Mosquitoes & Co. at bay.
- Here comes the sun...If at all possible, visit your ceremony site during the time of day and season that your ceremony will take place. Orient the seating so that the sun will be on guests’ backs rather than in their eyes.
- Don’t leave your guests parched! Alcohol is dehydrating, so consider serving a nonalcoholic bar as well! Offer a variety of fresh fruit slices to jazz up water, lemonades and teas. My favorites are cucumber, cantaloupe, and strawberries along with your more standard lemons and limes. For a fancy cocktail, why not serve a classic mint julep or a mojito? The mint will refresh and cool your guests.
- Permits . If you are marrying in a public or city owned place, do not forget to contact your city parks department or other local government to get a permit for an outdoor wedding. Be sure to ask about rules concerning trash removal, candle or torch lighting, and pre-wedding photography.
- Enjoy (and rest)! If you have a planner, know that she will continue to work tirelessly to ensure a perfect outcome so you can get some much needed rest. Like all brides, at some point you just have to sit back, relax, and know that you have done everything you can to make your day perfect.