An outdoor wedding is a dream for many couples, and there are a variety of locations to consider - scenic landmarks, historic estates, parks, the beach, or even your own backyard.  Getting married outside in the sunshine, surrounded by the beauty of nature and your friends and family, makes for a lovely celebration.  But an outdoor wedding takes planning, forethought and attention to details.  Although you cannot control the weather, you can work around it.  Here are some tips for planning a successful outdoor wedding.

Location

Even though your heart is set on an outdoor wedding, it is wise to choose a location that has both indoor and outdoor facilities, if possible.  That way, if the weather doesn't cooperate, the show can still go on.  At the very least, rent a tent in case of inclement weather.  Some parks and other outdoor locations may not be experienced in hosting weddings.  Make sure you know the rules of the venue you choose. Ask specific questions; for example:

  • Do you need a permit? 
  • Is there a limit on the number of guests? 
  • Will you be allowed to serve alcohol?

Make sure you will have access to the amenities you will need for a successful event.  Are there restrooms available?  If not, you will have to rent port-a-potties.  You will probably need electricity (for caterers, DJ's, fans or lighting, etc.) which are not usually found in nature.  Find out if you need to rent a generator.  Bugs and outdoor weddings go hand in hand.  But you can take measures to alleviate the worst of the problem.  You may want to hire an exterminator to spray the day before the wedding.  Citronella candles add shimmer and also help keep bugs at bay.

Decorations

At an outdoor wedding, Mother Nature provides most of the decorations - trees, flowers, a view of a lake or a hilltop vista.  But you may want to embellish a bit.  Many couples opt for a beautiful wedding arch to provide a focal point for the ceremony.  The arch can be left simple and unadorned, or can be swathed in flowers and ribbons to match those carried by the wedding party.

An arch dripping with flowers also provides a wonderful backdrop for wedding photos.  Coordinate the arch with planters sprouting matching flowers and you'll add enchantment to an already magical setting.  And, if you have to move your ceremony indoors at the last minute, the arch and planters will provide instant decoration at the new location.

You can ask your florist to decorate the arch or do it yourself.  An arch or gazebo can add such a romantic touch to your weddings.  And after the ceremony, the structure can take an honored place in your garden as a reminder of your special day.

Guests

Be sure guests know they are attending an outdoor wedding so they can dress appropriately.  In addition, it is a good idea to send weather information to out-of-town guests who may not be familiar with the climate.  Is there a place for your guests to park?  If there is no convenient parking at the site, consider having them park in a nearby lot and shuttling them over.  Also make sure that the site is accessible, especially for elderly guests and others with limited mobility.

The Wedding Party

Keep the weather in mind when choosing dresses.  Brides should choose a dress made of lighter-weight fabrics and consider not having a train, which will drag in the grass and dirt.  An aisle runner will help with this problem if needed.  Brides and bridesmaids will want to stay away from shoes with spike heels, which will sink into the ground.  Groomsmen should consider wearing vests with full backs so they can still  look dressed up with their coats off.

Food

Be sure the professionals you hire have outdoor experience.  Caterers need to provide foods and food displays that keep well under warm conditions.  Alcohol is dehydrating.  Make sure there are nonalcoholic beverages available to quench people's thirst on a hot day.


Good luck with your planning and have a most special day!