{Advice} How to Prepare for an Outdoor Wedding

Outdoor wedding ceremony

I have been to quite a few outdoor weddings, and have featured many outdoor weddings here on the blog.  I have been to a wedding in Dearborn, Michigan on the most beautiful fall day you could ever hope for.  I have also been to a wedding at a beautiful resort in Mexico, that was threatened by a looming hurricane 12 hours from hitting the shore.  So, we felt it was high time to discuss a little bit about how to plan an outdoor wedding, what to expect, and what to keep in mind (aka backup plans).

Whether they're by a beautiful lake or are perched on a rooftop, outdoor weddings have undeniable charm. However, nature’s unrestrained vitality is a double-edged sword, as it offers both unparalleled scenery and a unique set of problems that arise when couples can’t completely control their surroundings. With a little bit of forethought and planning though, the potential setbacks can be easily sidestepped.

vintage milk can decorations

When you choose to hold an outdoor wedding, the surrounding beauty upstages any ornament or manmade embellishment you might hope to feature. Therefore, select your decorations with the mindset of what will supplement and enhance your surroundings rather than compete. This same philosophy should apply when you select your color scheme as well.

Accommodating your guests
Make sure to factor in your guests' experiences when you pick a location. By asking invitees to travel to a different state or country for your nuptials, you might limit the amount of people in attendance, though this is also a fantastic way to purposefully limit the guest list. Also, reflect on the physical capabilities of those who are important in your life; having your older grandmother walk half-a-mile into the woods or be forced to sit Indian-style on a blanket for a picnic-reception might have unfavorable results. It is important that the invitation expresses what kind of conditions guests should expect and any helpful hints you can convey to make their time more enjoyable (like bringing bug spray or ditching the heels).

Weathering the elements
Nuno Palha Photography, Portugal

Undoubtedly, the possibility of rain has crossed your mind when anticipating your outdoor nuptials; while tents can help shield guests from a drizzle, it’s strongly advised to look into a wedding locale that can provide you with an indoor setting in case the downpour becomes unmanageable. Do your research and make sure your venue has a "weather backup plan" in place, for that "just incase a hurricane hits" type of scenario, like my friend had! Her nuptials were in the rain, but by the time the happy couple turned to face the crowd, the downpour started and we were rushed indoors.

However, just because you have a bit of unwanted rainfall does not mean that your wedding is ruined. In fact, with the help of colorful umbrellas and solid shelters, it can add a memorable flair to your big day; why not kick off your heels and throw on some rain boots to have portraits of the two of you joyously splashing about puddles? An open-mind and sense of humor can sometimes be the best defense against a stormy day.  We featured an outdoor wedding that is a perfect example of getting through the nuptials in the rain! If you're interested, click here to view that wedding. It was beautiful, and everyone was smiling-no tears over the raindrops during the vows!

Michelle Zahn Photography

As much as brides fear precipitation, other elements often remain overlooked. If your event is to be held in the summer months, be mindful of blazing heat, especially for older guests. When the forecast begins to unpleasantly climb, provide your guests with iced beverages and handheld fans throughout the ceremony. If natural shading isn’t available, consider cooling attendants by placing a decorative tent over their heads. When positioning the layout of the ceremony, factor which direction the sun will be beaming so it is not shining directly into either your guests’ eyes or your own. Keep in mind that your guests might not be the only aspect that responds poorly to high temperatures; cut flowers may wilt quicker than you would like so, if you’re celebration is going to be held in a hot climate like the beach, have the blooms kept cool as long as possible prior to the ceremony or forego flowers entirely in favor of non-floral wedding decorations (here). Similar steps will need be done for the wedding cake and consult with your baker about which ingredients will hold up well in the sun (stay away from buttercream and mousse).  If your wedding takes place on the brink of fall or winter, when there is a chill in the air, provide shawls for your guests to cozy up with while they sit through your ceremony.

Another environmental component that couples can fail to properly prepare for is the wind. While a nice breeze can tickle the skin, lift spirits and do wonders for those wedding photos, powerful gusts can make programs scatter, glasses fall over and bridal hairdos a mess. If you are in a locale that has particularly strong winds like a beach or mountaintop, consider holding the reception in a place that will have natural barriers to block the gales. Favor items of heavier materials that will blow away less easily and, for those items that will easily scatter with even the slight breeze, have them firmly tied or held down. Furthermore, keep food covered whenever possible to prevent the wind from sprinkling it with pollen, sand or dirt. Another factor to take into consideration when confronting substantial winds is the question of how particular sounds are going to carry about the whooshing noises, so special sound systems might need to be rented.

directional signs at outdoor wedding

Signs are everywhere
Because your wedding will be surrounded by the great outdoors, it’s natural that you would want to do your part to keep the area pristine. Have clearly marked trash receptors throughout the reception and separate bins for recycling. Furthermore, consider creative ways you can reduce the waste; donate flowers or decorations to the children’s wing of a hospital; and perhaps forego the wedding favors (which mostl people quickly toss) to, instead, plant trees to honor your love for your family and friends.

Have directional signs placed front and center so your guests know where the ceremony will be, where the dining will take place, where the all important restrooms can be found, etc.  In a hotel, everything is easy to find, so make it also easy to find all aspects of your outdoor event with unique and creative signs.

Michelle Zahn Photography, horsehoe games

Finally, find creative ways to make the most of your outdoor setting! Whether it’s by releasing beautiful skylanterns into the evening sky, ending the evening with a bonfire or inviting guests to play bad mitten, horseshoes and croquet, the lack of four walls allow for the possibilities to be only as limited as your imagination (and whatever ordinances you have to adhere to).

We hope some of these helpful tips are of use to you, as you plan for your outdoor wedding!

Photo Credits:
Photo 1: Michelle Brooks Photography featured here | Photo 2: The Collection featured here | Photo 3: Nuno Palha featured here | Photo 4: Michelle Zahn Photography featured here | Photo 5: Photos by Keshia featured here | Photo 6: Michelle Zahn Photography featured here
Submitted via Two Bright Lights

1 comment:

  1. That is some good things to think about!! You did forget to mention doing sun dances just in case though ;)


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