How to Plan an Outdoor Wedding

Outdoor weddings can be some of the most beautiful. Nature provides us with the perfect backdrop for your most special day. But the thought of planning to host one of the most important days of your life outdoors can be a little scary. What if it rains? What if it storms? Where will everyone sit?

While you can’t guarantee Mother Nature will cooperate with your plans, you can minimize the potential for disaster. Be creative, be organized, and think ahead.

Planning for weather, what time of year?

Depending on where you live, you may want to consider this most important factor. If you live in a colder climate, known to still spurt a bit of snow as late as May, you might want to put off your outdoor nuptials until well into June or July.

What are the driest months of the year in your state? If April showers bring May Flowers, maybe spring isn’t the best month for your event.

Don’t forget about fall! Outdoor fall weddings can be stunning, especially in areas that experience the changing of leaves. As an added bonus, autumn generally experiences the least precipitation.

Where to have it?

Does your community have a nice park or rose garden available for rentals? What about a family farm or someone’s large back yard?

First and foremost, check availability. If you find the place of your dreams, ask if anyone else has ever hosted a wedding in that location. Perhaps you can speak with them and learn if there’s anything important you need to know.

Is the ground level? Will you need to rent chairs or are they provided? Chair rental is simple, there are many party and wedding rental companies that deliver and pick up at your site in addition to their chair rental services. Some may even set them out for you, but make sure to find out ahead of time so that you can plan to have someone unfold and organize the seating the day of the wedding, or the day before if you’re lucky enough to have access. You don’t want to be handing out chairs at the guest book table!

If you plan on elderly guests, be sure you have ushers to escort them to their seats in the event of uneven ground. And you may want to lose the stilettos under your wedding gown, as you may sink during the ceremony!

Make sure to ask about parking. If you’re hosting your wedding at a private residence, you will want to plan for guests parking and may even ask someone to assist.

Having a backup…

One of the most important things you can do is to have a backup plan.

Yes, you may have to pay for two facility rentals. But this is probably better than trying to cram three hundred guests into your parents’ house, isn’t it? If you’re lucky, you won’t have to even use the backup facility, but plan for it as if you will be. Ask all the same questions: How many guests will this accommodate? Can we have lit candles? Are we allowed to use decorations?

If nothing else, this gives you peace of mind as you plan everything else for your big day.

You can also rent a large enclosed tent that’s strong enough to withhold wind and rain. You may be able to rent tables and chairs from this same company and they may set up and tear all of it down as well. But again, be sure to know what to expect ahead of time.

Make sure your guests understand the backup plan.

Include instructions with your invitations that clearly offer guests the alternative plan. Give directions to the backup location, same as you would for the original plan. Be specific as to what factors would dictate relocation. For example “In case of rain or inclement weather, the ceremony will be held… ” You may also wish to have someone stay behind at the original location to direct any confused guests to the newly located event.

Keeping your guests comfortable…

Outdoor events can get hot, or cold, or sunny, or anything else that might occur that day. You can’t control the weather. But you can be sure to have a few things on hand that may make the weather a little more tolerable.

If it’s going to be hot, provide plenty of cold drinks and hand fans. If it’s going to border on the chilly side, maybe an outdoor heat source is in order. If you’re planning to wed in the middle of the summer, it may be best to offer some shade to those who cannot be exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. Some medications are specific about this and these guests will appreciate the option.

What about unity candles? Will it be too breezy to light a flame? Consider using a hurricane glass shield to keep it lit or consider an alternative, such as a unity sand ceremony set. Sand can easily be poured into a vase with a little wind blowing through. And if a little spills out, no problem! You’re outside!

The best thing you can do when it comes to an outdoor wedding is to think ahead. Try to imagine every scenario and plan an alternative in the event of that. It sounds tedious at first, but once you have the ball rolling and know that you have planned for whatever may be thrown at you, you’ll be able to enjoy the fun stuff. You can never predict anything and everything that will happen, that’s true even for traditional indoor weddings, so relax and enjoy. The outcome will still be the same! And if you do end up with an unforeseen surprise, well you have a story to share at your 50th anniversary party!