The ultimate guide to the perfect outdoor wedding – 10+ Essential Tips
Getting married is a wonderful occasion, and getting married outdoors can take your special day to the next level.
Outdoor weddings are spectacular when done right and will leave an everlasting memory that you can really cherish.
However, outdoor weddings can have their pitfalls and can turn your special day into a nightmare very fast.
To avoid a wedding from hell, here are our favourite tips to make sure your special day goes off without a hitch.
Keeping your guests comfortable
Outdoor weddings can be extremely uncomfortable for your guests if you get them wrong.
I’ve been to many a wedding where I have had to endure the blazing sun for over an hour, or nearly frozen to death in near arctic conditions. Ok, maybe I’m slightly exaggerating but you get the idea.
If you’re planning a summer wedding make sure not to have your ceremony at the hottest point of the day, or if that is unavoidable you should try to have your ceremony in the shade.
If your location is isolated, and you hire the cooling fans you will want to hire a generator too.
Continuing with the Sahara desert wedding theme…
You will also need to make sure that your guests and wedding party (especially the bride) are kept hydrated.
Brides, on your big day you will have a tight fitting dress that’s heavy and restrictive add the blazing heat and you have a recipe for disaster. I’ve seen many brides on the border of fainting shortly after the ceremony.
To avoid this scenario, have your waiting staff hand out cool bottles of water at the start of the ceremony.
Lastly, make sure to have suntan available.
Sitting in the boiling heat in Santorini without suntan cream is no fun at all, and if you want your guests to make it to the evening meal without sunstroke I highly recommend having suntan lotion to hand.
Now, let’s flip it, Winter wedding, I got you covered.
It’s very distracting watching the Bride and Groom saying their “I do’s” when your teeth are chattering from your head.
To keep your guests warm in an outdoor winter wedding you should think about providing your guests with blankets. Not only will this add to the rusticness of the occasion, but it will also stop your 80-year-old gran from getting frostbite.
You can also hire portable heaters if you don’t think blankets will be enough or will look out of place with your style of wedding
The Weather – Don’t let it ruin your big day!
You can plan everything when it comes to your wedding, but one thing that will always throw a spanner into the works is the weather.
When planning an outdoor wedding you should first look at historic weather forecasts for the area. This should give you a rough idea of the type of weather you can expect around that time of year.
You should plan for the worst.
The weather should play a massive role in the planning of your outdoor wedding. Everything from the material of the Bride’s dress to the hairstyle chosen by the bride and the bridal party.
You will want to avoid materials like chiffons and silks as instead of softly floating around they can take on a life of their own and start to whip around violently in adverse weather conditions.
You will also need to tell your hair stylist that you’re having an outdoor wedding as this will affect the style of hair they create for you (both Bride and Groom).
It seems we are never too far away from the rain, even in the summer so with that in mind you may also want to provide your guests with umbrellas, or at least have them laying around in the background.
Candles, menus and other table accessories can also get blown around if the wind picks up. You can anchor your menus down with rustic items such as pebbles or sticks. Candles, on the other hand, can be put in lanterns or to be extra careful you can buy battery operated candles.
With all of the above said, sometimes the weather will be too much to handle and that leads us nicely to the next tip…
Have a backup plan
I know you want an outdoor wedding, but sometimes the weather doesn’t allow it. Because of this, you will need a backup plan.
An ideal outdoor wedding will have an indoor location as a backup.
If there is no indoor location you should at least have a marquee on standby. All you need to make sure of is the marquee can be enclosed if the wind or rain picks up.
One thing to keep in mind with marquees is even though they protect you from the rain, the ground still becomes wet and with all the footfall of a wedding, the ground can resemble last years Glastonbury festival.
The tent you rent should be weatherproof and sturdy enough to withhold moderate wind and rain storms.
When it comes to wedding decorations for an outdoor wedding you will want to keep them as simple as possible.
The whole point of an outdoor wedding is to admire the beauty around us and just dress it up a little with some extra details.
Flowers at the end of aisle seats look great, but there are a few considerations you will want to make when it comes to using flowers.
In the summer months, you will have to think about how these flowers are going to hold up in the heat. Delicate flowers wilt in heat very quickly and the end result is a drab looking wedding.
If you do use flowers in your outdoor wedding make sure to place them in position as late as possible. Anything from 30 minutes to an hour is perfect.
If running around 30 minutes before getting married is not something you look forward to doing you can replace real flowers with fake ones. They don’t look as good, but they look better than dead flowers.
Applying for permits and insurance for an outdoor wedding
When planning a wedding you may not think about the legal stuff (other than getting married) that needs to happen to allow for your special day.
One of these boring legalities is having a permit to host your wedding. You should check with your local council to see if a permit is needed to get married at your selected location.
You will also need liability insurance as most outdoor locations don’t come with it. You should speak to your location as soon as possible to determine if you are covered.
If the location doesn’t have liability insurance for an outdoor wedding don’t panic.
If you’re hiring a wedding tent then most of these companies will provide the insurance as part of the fee, but it’s worth checking to be sure.
If you can’t get liability insurance from above you may want to purchase it yourself. A company called Event Insurance offer public liability insurance from £54 and that also covers a wedding cancellation of up to £5000 too.
You may also want to check any alcohol or noise restrictions that you will have to abide by at that particular location.
All of the above should be done way in advance to avoid disappointment
Flies and Mosquitos, someone call the exterminator!
Nobody likes having to fight off bugs the entire evening.
I’m getting itchy just thinking about it.
If you don’t want to be itching and scratching while saying “I do” then you should call out the exterminator a few days before the ceremony. (Please check with your wedding venue that this is allowed before doing so)
An exterminator can spray the grass, trees and bushes to get rid of any nasty surprises before your big day.
Some locations won’t allow the above though, so you may want to think about purchasing citronella candles which have been known to get rid of flies and mosquitos.
What, I can’t hear a thing.
The biggest problem with outdoor weddings, apart from uncle Rodger thinking he’s Elvis reborn is not being able to hear the ceremony.
Over the last year I have been to 3 outdoor weddings and on every occasion, I haven’t been able to hear the minister talk, or the Bride and Groom reciting their vows. Add this with my terrible eyesight and I may as well have stayed at home.
But joking aside, when planning your outdoor wedding you should hire a sound system so that all guests can hear you and know what is going on. Your first point of contact on this should be the wedding band or DJ.
Wedding Food and the outdoors
Getting your food selection right with outdoor weddings is tough.
In summer weddings you will want to avoid any foods that can spoil if they’re meant to be eaten cold. Seafood such as oysters is a massive no go for me and I would avoid them at all costs.
To make sure you don’t end up poisoning your guests I would suggest talking to your catering team and making sure they have experience in outdoor wedding catering and know roughly what temperatures to expect at that time of year.
A good caterer will know all of the above, so it may be worth spending a little extra on the food not to poison anyone, including uncle Rodger/Elvis.
Timing is everything
I’ve been to two outdoor weddings in Santorini Greece.
One wedding was at midday where the sun roasted me like a pig on a spit and the other was later in the afternoon in more comfortable temperatures and while we were sitting down for our wedding meal the sun was dropping. Romantic, beautiful and comfortable.
Out of the two which wedding do you think I preferred?
That’s right, the second one.
When planning your wedding take into consideration the time of the year and the time of your ceremony.
By getting the timing right you enhance the beauty of the outdoors and make your day a little more special.
Not having to fight the sun can also help your photographer with the wedding pictures. The sun can ruin wedding photos, too much of it and all of your guests are squinting. An afternoon photo shoot in less harsh sunlight can create amazing and memorable photos.
Other essential outdoor wedding tips
When planning an outdoor wedding many Brides and Grooms forget about accessibility and parking.
Most weddings will have senior citizens and children, having a wedding in a secluded field, especially if it’s raining can be dangerous and non-practical for some of your guests.
Yes, I know it’s your day and you should be able to have the event where ever you want, but planning to make your location as accessible as possible can help avoid any accidents that could ruin your day.
You will also need to think about parking. As there’s nothing more annoying than turning up to a field in the middle of nowhere without any parking.
Finally, the last tip I can give you is to make sure that there are toilets nearby.
Go for real bathrooms and not portaloos or the local Tesco, once again you don’t want your wedding to resemble Glastonbury.
Outdoor wedding emergency kit
All the planning in the world won’t stop accidents or mishaps from happening. To make sure your day goes as perfect as it can here are some items you should have handy just in case the worst should happen:
- Fly and Mosquito spray
- Rubber hammer to bang down any loose fittings (marquees)
- Suntan cream
- Safety pins
- Torches (if the power goes off)
- First Aid Kit
- Fire Extinguisher
- Spare pair of shoes/flip flops (walking in the mud is no fun)
Outdoor wedding conclusion
Getting married is an amazing experience.
Getting married outdoors is an even better one. By following our tips above you will be more than prepared for anything that comes your way.
And just remember to enjoy it!