THINGS TO KNOW
OUTDOOR WEDDINGS CAN BE FUN?
1. Prepare for anything weather
One thing about weather is, it can change as quickly as the wind. Think about what the weather will likely be at the time of day and month of the year of your outdoor wedding.
Always prepare for the worst so you don't get caught off guard if a storm rolls in. Sunny and hot?, Make sure your guest area has natural or tent shade. Don't leave your guests uncomfortably melting, have your ushers give guests ice-cold bottles of water as they are seated.
Place a large cooler of bottled water on ice in a shaded area well in signt of guests. Consider printing your wedding program on a fan so that guests may cool themselves. Don't forget to have plenty of sunscreen on hand as well.
For a very warm location, look into renting large electric fans (don't forget a generator to power them if no hydro is near) and/or a tent to shade the sun's rays. If it will be cold and damp, make sure you tell guests that so they can wear extra layers of clothing. You might want to have lap blankets on hand or rent portable heaters as a sudden cool temperature drop can disperse quests in a hurry.
2. Have a Backup Plan
What will you do if it rains? The ideal outdoor wedding location has an indoor location waiting just in case. Many brides and grooms opt to have their ceremony outside and reception inside. In a pinch, the tables can be scooted to the back of the inside room during the ceremony.
A tent is another option, but only for light to moderate rain storms. A heavy rain will soak the ground underneath, leaving guests with soggy and muddy shoes. Make sure any tent you rent is sturdy so it won't flip over, and that it has thick and weighted side panels that zip. Best to hire the pros for this task. Your entertainers will have very expensive sound gear that needs to be absolutely kept dry or they may refuse to perform!
3. Plan for Wind
Windy conditions can develop in a moments notice.
Avoid light fabrics like chiffons and china silks in your dress and the bridesmaids dresses. Tell your hairstylist that you'll be having an outdoor wedding so she/he can plan a style that won't leave you looking like Cousin It! Again, tell your guests in a printed insert so that they can plan accordingly. And of course, make sure your tent will stand up to gusting winds or find an indoor backup plan.
4. Can Everybody Hear the sound?
When you picture your dream wedding at the beach, you're probably not hearing the roaring of the waves, the rushing wind, or the local kids running and screaming around you. Look into renting a sound system with clip mikes for the bride, groom and officiant.
Your DJ or band may be able to easily arrange this for you. Clear audible sound is key to keeping your guests attention (often overlooked). This may be an important extra that will not be included in the reception music package.
One of the bonuses of an outdoor wedding is the natural beauty around you, lessening your need to decorate nature. But you still need to do some work. Visit the site a week before your wedding to make sure the grass is cut, the ground raked, and the flowers have bloomed. If your wedding is at a public park, you may want to ask the groomsmen or friends to do this the morning of your ceremony.
If it's been an especially cold season, you may need to supplement the flowers with some potted bulbs from a florist or decorator. Other decorations you may want to consider include an arch or trellis to focus the ceremony and frame the bride and groom as they say their vows; strings of lights or lanterns in the trees; luminarias; torches; or farolitas.
6. Make Things Tasty Outside
Does your caterer have experience planning an outdoor wedding menu? Make sure they're planning things that will keep well outdoors in the heat. Avoid things like mayonnaise salads or dishes which must be served cold. Always keep ice on foods that need to be kept cool.
7. Don't Leave Your Guests Parched
Since alcohol is dehydrating, consider serving a variety of lemonades, teas and punches on the side. Be sure to have plenty of ice and water around as well. For a fancy cocktail, why not serve a classic mint mojito?
The mint will refresh and cool your guests.
8. Stop Those Pesky Flying Things
Be sure to put out citronella candles or a bug zapper so that your guests won't spend the whole ceremony swatting at the air. Avoid being too close to trees or standing water.
9. Here Comes the Sun
Consider timing your outdoor wedding for sunset where your guests will see you take your vows surrounded by the warm glow of the sun. Those having a daytime outdoor wedding should orient the ceremony so that the sun will be on guests' backs rather than in their eyes.
Don't forget to contact your city parks department or other local government to get a permit for an outdoor wedding! Be sure to ask about rules concerning trash removal, candle or torch lighting, and pre-wedding photography.
11. Hydro Circuits
Very often overlooked! Don't forget to check how many separate 110 A/C 15 amp power circuits are available in or near the tent. The Entertainment Usually requires a minimum of 1 or 2 separate circuits. Electric coffee pots usually take 1 circuit each, Tent lighting and Bar will require another 1 or 2 circuits. Dance floor uplighting and or special effects will require their own separate circuit.
Do you need a power generator?
How Noisy is it?
Can it be placed so sound doesn't interfere?