20 Tips for Your Outdoor Wedding

Outdoor weddings are extremely popular, and many outdoor settings can make a beautiful backdrop for your nuptials. However, there are a few potential issues that are unique to outdoor wedding venues that could present themselves on your big day. Here are 20 easy to use tips for your outdoor ceremony.

1. Opt For Weatherproof Tents

Weatherproof tents are a great way to have the best of both worlds when it comes to having an outdoor wedding. You can have your ceremony in the tent or just outside it, or have a second tent set up for the reception. Make sure your tent has the ability to become enclosed in the event that there is rain or significant wind.

2. Have an Exterminator Come Out a Few Days Before the Wedding

Nobody likes bugs, and the last place you want them is at your wedding. Have an exterminator come out to your wedding site a few days before the ceremony and spray the trees, bushes, grass, and other surrounding structures. If you don’t, you’ll be smacking mosquitos off your arms while you’re trying to say “I do.”

3. Set Up Fans or Portable Air Conditioners For Enclosed Tents

One great way to keep your outdoor wedding cool is to have portable industrial fans set up with a generator. Set them up far enough away that you’re not blowing your hair or your decorations out of place, but close enough that your guests can feel the air. If you have an enclosed tent outdoors for your wedding ceremony or reception, consider having portable air conditioners set up instead.

4. Offer Cold Water Bottles to Guests During the Ceremony

Guests can get extremely hot and thirsty during an outdoor wedding ceremony that takes place in the summer, especially if there’s little to no shade. Consider passing out bottles of cold water to guests before they sit down. You can even add a little bit of fun and personalization to the bottles by ordering customized water bottle labels with your names and wedding date.

5. Have a Backup Indoor Location Available

If you plan on having your wedding outdoors, whether in the summer, fall, or winter, have a backup indoor location booked as well. Many wedding venues that offer an outdoor ceremony location will also have an indoor location in the event that it starts raining or it is simply too hot or too cold. The staff should be able to move your ceremony from one location to the other effortlessly. However, if you’ve chosen a location that is special to you or one that is not managed by professionals, you will definitely want to book a second indoor location on your own.

6. Get a Permit for the Wedding From Your County If Required

Some counties require a permit for a wedding that is to be held outdoors. Make sure you have this or designate a trusted family member or friend to make sure this is taken care of, well before your wedding date.

7. Choose a Location With Nearby Bathrooms

Make sure that your ceremony location is close to bathrooms that your guests can use. Go for real bathrooms that are nice and clean. Don’t ask your guests to use the bathroom at a nearby gas station, and definitely don’t have porta potties put out. The last thing you want is your ceremony smelling like a john.

8. Let the Hair Stylist Know That the Wedding Is Outdoors

Experienced hair stylists will know how to make most wedding hairstyles hold up in the heat, wind, cold, and even the rain. Simply let your stylist know that your wedding will be outdoors and when it will be, and they should be able to take it from their. If you don’t, you could be left with a limp hairstyle or one that comes undone at the slightest gust of wind.

9. Choose a Location With Ample Parking For Guests

No matter whether your wedding is indoors or out, you need to be certain that there is enough parking for all of your guests. If your wedding is outside, choose a location that has a parking lot already or at least an empty field where your guests can leave their cars for a few hours. Few things are more frustrating than arriving at a wedding with an invite and having nowhere to park.

10. Ensure That All Outdoor Decorations Can Withstand Heat If You’re Having a Summer Wedding

Planning for an outdoor wedding in the summer means that you’ll have to think about how everything is going to hold up in the heat, especially your decorations. Delicate flowers might wilt and look less-than-stellar if the humidity and heat index are high, and many other types of decorations might not look their best if they’ve been sitting outdoors in the heat for any length of time. Choose hardy decorations that won’t be affected by the temperature, such as silk flowers or paper lanterns.

11. Understand That Your Wedding Dress Will Likely Get a Little Dirty

Unfortunately, if you’re having your wedding outside, you can count on your dress getting at least a little dirty when you walk down the aisle. You can have your gown professionally cleaned after the wedding before you put it up, and most of the time, you’ll never know the difference once it’s all said and done. If the idea of a few smudges on your dress bother you, choose a gown without a train or a shorter gown that doesn’t touch the ground at all.

12. Offer Guests Handheld Fans For Summer Weddings or Blankets For Cool Weather Weddings

Keeping your guests comfortable for the duration of your ceremony should be a top priority if you’re having an outdoor wedding. If your wedding is in the summer, consider passing out handheld fans to each guest as they are seated. Some couples even use them as their favors or their wedding programs, and have them customized with their names and wedding date. If your wedding is in the winter and you expect the weather to be cool, have several throw blankets on hand for guests who get chilly.

13. Plan For Wind

Certain fabrics and decorations can be challenging if there’s any wind at all during your ceremony. Candles may be blown out, sheer fabrics may whip around instead of floating softly to the ground as you had planned, and your hair might become a mess. Choose decorations and dresses that are made out of stiffer fabrics that are more likely to stay in place if it gets windy, and be sure to let your hair stylist know to use plenty of holding products.

14. Ensure That the Ceremony Can Be Heard By All Your Guests

While many indoor wedding venues have sound systems already incorporated, if you’re having your wedding outdoors, the sound is something you’ll have to plan for. Set up a sound system that allows for you to be heard throughout the entire ceremony site, so even the people in the back can get misty eyed when you and your husband-to-be say your vows.

15. Have Your Caterer Plan Foods That Keep Well Outdoors

One of the biggest outdoor wedding mistakes that couples make is choosing food that they love for their hors d’oeuvres or meal without thinking about how they will hold up outdoors. It will be harder to keep cold foods cold in the summer, and many dishes will sweat or turn if exposed to high temperatures for too long. Your caterer has been in the business for many years and can offer you excellent advice on the best dishes to choose for an outdoor wedding.

16. Choose the Least Hot or Cold Time of Day for Your Ceremony

Just because you’re having your outdoor wedding in the summer doesn’t mean that you have to have it at high noon. Consider an evening ceremony when the sun is setting and the heat index is at it’s lowest. Or if you’re having your ceremony in the winter, perhaps the middle of the day when it is warmest is the best choice.

17. Consider Booking an Indoor Reception

If it’s going to be particularly hot or cold outside on the day of your wedding, consider booking a reception hall that is indoors. Guests will truly appreciate only having to brave the heat or cold for a short while before heading inside to comfortably enjoy the food, drinks, and fun you’ve invested in for your big day.

18. Consider Taking Photographs Before the Ceremony

While some couples like to preserve the tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other before the wedding, you may want to rethink this if you’re having an outdoor wedding in the summer. Summer heat and humidity can make hair fall and faces shine with sweat, and you won’t look your best in your photographs if you wait to take them until after your dress has sweat stains from the ceremony. Consider taking photos first, when you’re freshly dressed and made up.

19. Have Umbrellas On Hand

Even if your wedding is on the sunniest of days, going anywhere outdoors without an umbrella close by is just asking for trouble. You and your bridesmaids should each have an umbrella with you while you’re outdoors going from one place to the next or waiting for the ceremony or photographs. It may look silly when there’s not a cloud in sight, but you’ll save yourself a ton of heartache if you’re able to throw open your umbrella and save your dress, hair, and makeup in the event of an unexpected downpour.

20. Make Sure Your Wedding Cake Will Hold Up Outdoors

If you’re having your wedding outdoors in the summer, the icing on your cake may melt if you request your baker to use traditional buttercream icing. Fondant may not taste spectacular, but it can keep a wedding cake that is sitting outdoors in the heat from sweating or melting. Your baker may also be able to put a thin layer of buttercream underneath the fondant to help improve the taste. Folks who really don’t like fondant can peel it off and still enjoy the taste of the buttercream icing below it.

Don’t let the potential pitfalls of having an outdoor wedding keep you from having the ceremony of your dreams in the location of your choice. Careful planning will ensure that no matter what happens, your guests will be comfortable and your wedding will be absolutely magical.

Photo Sources:
Wonderlane / Foter / CC BY
county marquees / Foter / CC BY-ND
beamillion / Foter / CC BY
ralph and jenny / Foter / CC BY