When considering an outdoor wedding, (as more and more brides are considering) and bending away from a traditional wedding, the location of the wedding is on the top of the list for the most romantic part of an outdoor wedding. But, perhaps your budget doesn’t allow you to rent some of the places in Michigan, Indiana, or Ohio that can run into the thousands of dollars for a venue….so, why not your own backyard? That’s what Junior and Haley Boyd decided when picking a spot that would be large enough to accommodate their guests. The Bride’s Parents offered their land with pine trees and shaded trees for the reception, and tents were purchased for the wedding reception and meal.
“It all came together with family and friends and made the wedding personal and special”
Our bride had organized just a few weeks prior to her wedding how things should be set up, and due to a conflicting work schedule and little spare time to effectively plan, she and her groom came together beautifully to pull off the wedding and the planning in just a few short weeks. So, a backup plan was part of the consideration because weather in Michigan can be fairly unpredictable during the summer months with scattered and isolated thunderstorms moving into an area very quickly.
That’s when Mom and Dad stepped in and offered having the wedding at their residence.
Junior and Haley wanted a live band for their reception, and the area was large enough to also accommodate them nicely. Electrical outlets were available from the utility barn and the residence itself. The utility barn was large enough to cover almost all the guests that needed cover in the event of rain, with the residence itself as an option.
Photography and Videography were also chosen as part of Junior and Haley’s wedding, and an outdoor event is both rewarding and challenging for Photographers and Videographers. Sound equipment also is a must to help record the event. Junior and Haley made sure that in the event that rain was indeed unexpectedly a part of their wedding, hired professionals had a place to quickly remove their gear to.
Here are some more great tips from our friends at Love and Lavender for planning your outdoor wedding.
Outdoor Wedding Logistics
Focal Point – You know how guests tend to congregate in the kitchen at a house party? Well, when it comes to planning the set up of your outdoor wedding reception, choose an area that will serve as a focal point, like the kitchen, so that your guests aren’t spread out and feeling lost. When you employ a vast space, don’t be afraid to break up areas to create intimate lounge settings.
Accessibility – Whether you host your wedding on the beach or in a field, there needs to be easy access to the venue for elderly or handicapped guest. Make sure signage is visible to ensure that guests know the location of key facilities (i.e., ceremony, reception, or restrooms).
Movement of Décor – When planning make sure to think strategically, as you want to have a great flow to the day. Think about the whole wedding time frame from pre-ceremony to post-reception. You want to have a minimum amount of “flipping” (as they call it in the industry), which means moving decor and furniture in one area to replace it with another. The less movement of furniture and décor the better.
Weather and Temperature – Timing is truly everything, especially when it comes to the hot sun. If you envision an outdoor ceremony, keep in mind the hottest part of the day is usually from 1-3 pm in the afternoon. Try and schedule your ceremony start time after that time-frame so that the sun won’t be as strong for your guests. You don’t want guests to be burnt to a crisp before their first glass of champagne.
Permits – Don’t forget to research permits at your local city park department for park and beach weddings. Also, ask about policies around alcohol, music, trash removal, candle light, fees and timing of rentals.
Pesky Insects – Protect buffet and dessert stations by having proper protection and covers from both wind and insects. To control insects on your wedding day, think about placing citronella candles throughout the space. If you plan on having your wedding in a humid area prone to pesky bugs, like mosquitoes, see if you can hire an exterminator and spray the area a couple of days beforehand. Insects are the ultimate wedding crashers and can ruin the outdoor experience.
Lighting – Outdoor lighting is key for a wedding reception that carries into the evening, and can really set the mood. Check your location to see if you are allowed open flames like candles or tiki torches. If you want to go with the ever so popular string/bulb lighting, make sure there are attachments from which the strings can hang.
Perhaps you want to have spot lights in some areas such as on a curtain or building. There are many options to choose, just make sure you have done your homework on placement and that spot lights are acceptable.
Note: Running a residential electrical cord from a house or building will typically not be enough to sustain the caterers, bands/DJ, music, and lighting. You want to make sure you are well equipped with an adequate power source that is noise free. I can’t imagine a wedding with rolling blackouts during the evening!
Scout the Venue – A good idea before you rent items or buy decor is to view your venue ahead of time. Physically walk throughout your venue during the same time of day that you plan to have the ceremony. It will be easier to make contingency plans for insects, strong wind, outdoor lighting, heat, or weather. Spend a bit of time creating a realistic contingency plan and get a better idea of where to place your decor.
Wedding Cake – The wedding cake is a yummy treat that many couples spend a lot of money to purchase. Keep in mind the outside temperature and placement of your cake. You don’t want to find out that your 3-tier butter cream wedding cake is now a 3-tier naked cake because all the icing has melted away! If you do plan on displaying your cake in the blistering sun, fondant is a better option over a butter cream cake and will hold up longer. Make sure to plan accordingly with your cake maker for this lovely treat. A shady tree or tent to shade the cake will certainly come in handy.
Humidity Headaches – When it comes to weddings, the cup half empty bride will tend to focus on the ‘what if it pours rain?’. Whereas the cup half full bride will focus on the chance of too much sun melting everyone. A clear hot sunny day is what we all wish for when throwing any outdoor soiree, but the sun can be just as unbearable as cold, wet weather. Neglecting your guests on a hot day and letting them melt is not much fun. Make sure to offer shelter from the blazing hot sun as best you can, especially if you are looking for a good dance party later in the night. Guests won’t be much fun if everyone is exhausted or has heat stroke!
A great way to remedy this problem is to rent a large wedding canopy for your reception. Tent rental prices can be steep and may extend belong your wedding budget. If that is the case, then beg, borrow, or steal your neighbors’ patio umbrellas and scatter them about the reception area.
Outdoor Wedding Woes
Although we are all for outdoor weddings here on L&L, as like any indoor wedding venue, there are a few drawbacks.
Outdoor weddings can be more expensive when you factor in the cost of a shuttle bus, tent rental, toilet rental, or electric generators. Many wedding venues will provide most of what you will require as a package price. Whereas an outdoor wedding ceremony in an open field will require you to satisfy the missing must-haves.
L&L readers: you are inviting guests from all parts of the country to your wedding and paying thousands of dollars for them to be present. Even thought they probably won’t remember your personal hand written vows to each other, you still want them to be able to hear them. Nothing is worse than a wedding ceremony where you cannot hear what is being said.
You may picture your dream wedding on a white sand beach, but may not consider the crashing waves, the strong gusts of wind, and the local kids frolicking about. Use a clip-on microphone for the bride, groom, and officiant. Even with surrounding noise your guests will be able to hear your nuptials.
The best part of an outdoor wedding is being able to use the natural landscape to your decorating advantage. Prepare by visiting the site a week before the wedding to ensure everything is in good order – the leaves are raked, the grass is cut, and the flowers are in bloom.
If the wedding is taking place in a public park, ask a groomsmen or friend to make a quick trip on the morning of the wedding ceremony to make sure everything is up to snuff.
A spring season ceremony may still hold remnants of winter’s long and cold weather. You may need to buy extra potted flowers if nature is late to bloom.
Choose the right decor accessories for your outdoor wedding to make it charming. Your overall wedding style will dictate the decor items. A few decor ideas for an outdoor wedding ceremony and reception include:
|1. String lighting to illuminate your evening
2. White Paper Lanterns that hang from a tent ceiling
|3. Floating Candles in a pond or clear vase|
|5. Mason jars wrapped with twine and tea lights6. Lanterns add a nice rustic ambiance|
|7. Use a trellis or arch as a focal point. Cover with gorgeous flowers, foliage, or twigs
8. Hang fabric from between two tall trees
Take a bit of the stress out of planning an outdoor wedding and consider renting a few items:
Bathrooms: If your big open field does not come equipped with public restrooms, you will want to rent a portable bathroom. Don’t fret, these aren’t the ugly blue variety that may remind you of a construction zone. These are called executive washroom trailers, and some of are quite posh looking!
Tents: Does your outdoor location not have a respite from the sun? Rent a tent for your guests to escape the heat.
Heater or Heating Lamp: Even the summer can cool down once the sun sets. Heaters are perfect for spring and fall weddings too.
Rain On Your Wedding Day
“Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best & Prepare to be Surprised!”
Have your heart set on an outdoor wedding? Make sure you have a backup plan as well as an alternative location. When I was planning my wedding, my venue made sure that we had a rain plan in case of rain. This ensured that all the vendors knew where everything would go. Our wedding ceremony was at 3:30 pm and my wedding planner said she would decide at 12 pm whether to use the rain or sun plan. After 2 months straight of no rain on the west coast, rain was forecast for our wedding day the entire week leading up. Fortunately, the morning of our wedding it rained its heart out and the blue sky broke just before noon. We didn’t have to use our rain plan, thank goodness! A plan B isn’t something to stress over. It will actually be one less thing you will have to worry about if you do have to go with plan B, and your guests will never know.
Keep your Guests Informed and Happy
Drink up: Water that is! Brides and grooms can often get wrapped up with the grand vision and forget about little things like keeping your guests hydrated. Although drinking champagne and dancing on tables is a necessity at a wedding, so is keeping hydrated. A lovely bowl of punch or a drink dispenser full of cold lemonade or iced tea is a great option for when guest first arrive at the ceremony. Personalized water bottles with the bride and grooms name on the label are another option. Don’t forget about drinking some H2O during the reception too.
Cool me down: A nice gesture is to offer your guests the use of pretty parasols or fans while outside. An added bonus is that they can double as wedding favors.
Footwear: It is important to let your guests know what kind of footwear is appropriate to wear to the wedding. The best way is via your wedding website. If your dream day will take place in a big open field, let guests know that they will be walking on a grassy surface most of the day. Aerating the field in stilettos is not what guests are expecting, so please forewarn them!
Sunscreen: Just like in the bathroom of an upscale club, offer your guests sunscreen. Okay, they might not offer you sunscreen, but they do offer other toiletry products. Guests should focus on looking their best for the wedding, not worried about getting sun burnt.
Baby it’s cold outside: We have all seen photos, or been to a wedding, where flip flops are offered to get you out of your heels and onto the dance floor. If you find you are going to be outside during a cool night, why not offer your guests blankets so that they can keep cozy?
Dress for Success: When it comes to your bridal party, don’t forget about their comfort too. An outdoor summer wedding with a floor length, 3 layer, crinoline gown for your bridesmaids is not going to be forgiving in the heat. That type of dress would be more appropriate for the air conditioned banquet hall downtown.
Thanks for taking the time to read my wedding guide on how to plan an outdoor wedding. Feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion below. I hope you are well on your way to planning your own successful outdoor affair!