There’s just something special about an outdoor wedding. Sunset and ocean breezes on a beach, bright fall foliage and soaring views on a mountain top, or your own back yard with your childhood trees lit up and your Grandpa’s antique tractor parked nearby…there are so many possibilities to make your outdoor venue truly magical. Here, we’ll give you a few suggestions on how to make your al fresco wedding perfect, and some reminders to head off some potential disasters.
Of course, you want a picture-perfect scene for your ceremony. And know that your friends, family and guests will be very impressed with the gorgeous setting. But, they’ll also be out there waiting for you and your wedding party to make an entrance, so make sure you consider little touches that can make them more comfortable in the meantime. If it’s a hot one, have water everywhere—icy dispensers of infused lemon and cucumber water are a great touch. Cool cloths, hand fans and sunscreen packets will also come in handy. Even a bucket full of cheap sunglasses will be a sweet gesture, and hiring an ice cream truck to roll by before or after the ceremony will produce a lot of smiles. Rental seats can often be a bit uncomfortable, so colorful pillows can make a difference. Other seating ideas include hay bales covered with quilts or rows of picnic benches, complete with fleecy blankets if it’s getting cooler out. Finally, make sure you (and your wedding photographer) take note of the sun position and lighting at the time of your ceremony a day or two before to ensure flattering photos.
Mother Nature provides us with these beautiful settings, but she can also throw a ton of problems in there as well. If you are detail-oriented and know what to expect when you set up and plan your venue, you’ll have everything in place no matter what the day holds.
The tent is an essential part of an outdoor wedding, and there’s lots of things to consider. It’s there to give you shelter from rain and shade from the sun, but high winds, sideways rain storms and varying temperatures can give you fits. Check the weather often, including what it’s been like in years past on that date. Consider rain flaps, and have a plan to unroll them if a storm is coming or a cold front rolls in. Having fans for hot weather and heaters for chillier seasons is a must, including outside mingling and seating spots. Also, check to make sure you have even ground inside the tent, and think about laying down flooring for the dance floor. Keep a sharp eye on seating plans and table placements, and make sure there are clear lanes for guests and caterers to move in and out smoothly, as well as no tables too close to the outdoor elements. Lastly, a back-up plan is a good idea, so a deposit on a nearby indoor venue might be wise.
There’s so many other bits and pieces of a big party like this that it’s easy to overlook them…until they become a problem during the wedding. At the risk of being too wordy, we’ll make a list of all the other details.
Facilities: options range from a nearby house to plush portable bathroom trailers with air conditioning and boutique soaps. Making sure you have one bathroom for every forty guests is a good rule of thumb.
Power: Depending on the site, you’ll likely need some major power. Either running wires or generators are likely, so make sure they are well planned out. Remember, you need to account for lighting, cooking (check with the caterer), microphones, DJ system, fans…just make a list and have enough power (and outlets and extension cords) to spare.
Terrain: If you’re in a grassy or uneven area, make sure let folks know beforehand. High heels sinking into soft grass can make for an awkward event.
Insects: They’ll make their way into anything. Citronella candles provide light and protection, and consider repellant packets if it could be bad. Also, flies love sweets, so a screen around the cake or other desserts until you’re ready to eat might be a good idea,
Other Rain Considerations: Cute coordinated parasols or umbrellas look good, even if you don’t need them for shade or to keep dry. Having a few guys to escort guests from cars to tents is a good idea also.
Sense of Humor: Look, things happen. Being straight forward and addressing the rain/cold/heat/etc. problems is the best way to make everyone feel a part of the whole experience, which is really what you want. These guests are here because they love you…make the most of all the ups and downs of the day, and it’ll all turn out perfect.
Do you have any questions about outdoor weddings? Leave your questions in the comments below!