Having part or all of your wedding outdoors can be truly magical. But it requires a bit of extra care in the planning in order to keep the bridal party – and guests – comfortable. Whether you choose to wed in a verdant and flower-filled garden, on a beach at sunset, on a mountaintop, or in some other open-air location of special meaning – an al fresco celebration could be the perfect and naturally stunning start to your life together. Here are a few do’s and don’t to keep in mind:
- Send out a save-the-date announcement well in advance if you are planning your wedding for the summer season when many people take their annual vacation.
- Consider seasonal accommodations such as heat or cold relief, bug spray, shade, and shelter. A tent or canopy of some kind can head off a multitude of problems. If there’s a chance that things could get chilly, kit out your tent with space heaters, and have a selection of shawls or pashminas handy. If rain is forecast, keep a reserve of umbrellas handy. You could even colour-match them to the bridesmaid’s gowns.
- Consider the ground underfoot. Soggy soil or grass can wreak havoc on women’s heels. If you’re gathering on a beach, consider telling guests ahead of time that they can go barefoot, or provide flip-flops or pretty slip-on sandals.
- Make it clear if you want a smoke-free event. Many people assume that restrictions on smoking don’t apply out of doors. If you are OK with guests smoking, make sure there are easily recognizable receptacles for the butts.
- Provide personal flashlights – or perhaps a pathway of torches or candle lanterns – to light guests’ way if the sun will set on your ceremony and they need to re-locate for the reception.
- Don’t schedule your wedding ceremony for high noon. When the sun is high, the heat can be more intense. The light at this hour can also be quite flat and over-lit, which can make taking stunning photos much more challenging.
- Friends don’t make friends sweat. If heat is going to be an issue at your outdoor location, think about providing fans, either the old folding kind (which are also great for flirting), or the solar/battery powered personal rotating kind.
- Don’t forget to suss out parking, permits, and liability insurance (which covers personal injury and property damage) if you are using a private or public outdoor location.
- Don’t neglect to come up with a Plan B (and C and … so on). Being outdoors makes you weather-dependent and we all know how unpredictable weather can be. Have a secondary indoor location that can serve if there is a downpour or an electrical storm. In fact, having a back-up indoor space that can be quickly retrofitted and used in a pinch just makes good sense.
- Don’t spend a lot of money getting your bridesmaids’ hair done if you’re having your ceremony and reception outside. Just don’t. Instead, opt for a more casual dress code generally to take into account possible heat, wind and drizzle, and keep the bridal party fresh-faced, with simple plaits or loose up-dos.
If you and your partner have your hearts set on an outdoor wedding, here’s hoping that all these details don’t scare you off. Just keep people’s comfort and the potential for worst-case scenarios in mind and plan ahead. You’ll be happy you did, because an outdoor wedding is absolutely the best kind of wedding.
Do you have any tips of your own for outdoor weddings? Let us know in the comments below.