Indoor vs Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies

Indoor vs Outdoor Ceremonies


Listen to a podcast with wedding planner extraordinaire Maureen Woodman of The Essex Room, as she discusses indoor vs. outdoor wedding ceremonies.

John Maher:  Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for on and offsite catered events at The Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about indoor vs outdoor wedding ceremonies. Welcome Maureen.

Maureen Woodman:  Hi, John. Thanks for having me today.

John:  Sure. Maureen, with weather in New England the way it is, how do you reassure brides that their wedding won’t be ruined by rain?

Maureen:  That’s a good question.

John:  I bet it comes up a lot.

Maureen:  How do we reassure brides it’s not going to snow this summer, after the winter that we’ve had in New England? I think that one of the biggest things I do to try and calm them down, I always say to them all right do you have the stomach for an outdoor wedding? If you do, we cannot even look at the weather until the Thursday before your weekend because all the fret, all the worry, all the planning, all the panic.No matter what we do a year and a half out, we are never going to know what the weather is that day of your wedding until it’s actually here.

I try to calm them down, but I also ask them in the beginning are you capable of making that decision or handling this because if you’re not, have a different venue. It’s the first thing I tell them go to a church, get married inside. If your heart’s so set on getting married outside, you also have to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

John:  Right. Yeah. Good advice. We, my wife and I went to a wedding for some of our friends down in Connecticut and it was on July 4 and just absolutely poured buckets the entire day. We ended having to have the ceremony inside and it was very nice, but luckily they had a good backup plan at that location. It does happen.

Maureen:  Yeah. That’s probably one of the lucky things for us at the Essex Room. We have a plan for outside. We have a lovely lawn that we could do your wedding on outside and then we try to hold the brides until 12:00 PM that day. Most girls are getting married later in the day and so we say to them OK the night before we look at the weather when they do their rehearsal or two nights before, we go over the indoor plan if it looks like we’re gonna have inclement weather.

Then, what we do is we wait to maybe 10 or 12 that morning and then we have to call it because we can’t go so close because the chairs have to set up. We have to get something inside that they’re going to get married under. We have to change the way we’re going to have our appetizers inside the function facility, so we have to kind of run around a little bit.

John:  There’s some preparation that has to happen before hand. How many hours before the ceremony do you have to really give it up, call it, and just say OK it’s going to be inside?

Maurren:  I like to call it five hours before. The other thing is the bride is not on the property yet, so we don’t have the jitters, the jittery bride, or the jittery mom of the bride or the groom because when game day comes, they’re so nervous that day right before the actual ceremony that any little thing that happens seems to be the straw that can break the camel’s back and can throw their emotions the other way.

That’s not something that we want to do. We want to keep the bride and the bride’s parents and the groom and the groom’s parents stable and steady before the actual ceremony. I always say to girls I don’t care if you live together, I don’t care what’s going on, it’s definitely the goose bumps  –  really! – kind of willy feeling and butterflies in your stomach and you’re really gonna go there.

John:  It’s still your perfect day, yeah.

Maureen:  Yeah and so we try to make that decision for you. We’ll have the plan in check. We will go over the plan with you well ahead of time, so that you’re not surprised by it.

I still have to say I’ve had a lot of brides really not happy that it was raining out and they wanted to try to do it outside, but it just doesn’t work. You’re wet. Your hair is wet. Your makeup’s stripping off your face. Your shoes are a mess. These gorgeous white shoes are all muddy. Little kids are out there and the streamers are hanging off the flower girl’s dress and it’s just not…

John:  Even if you tried to do umbrellas or something cute like that, it’s just too much?

Maureen:  We had a day – I think it was last year. We actually had three or four weddings. We had a couple offsite weddings and onsite weddings and it was that day that we got, I don’t know what you call it, a microburst. It actually came on the North Shore. We had everything going and trying to figure it out; we had umbrellas, and then we got thunder and lightning. It’s just safety is so important to us as the owners that we don’t want to take chance that something happens to somebody.

The other thing here is if you’re lucky enough, you have a few grandparents also. You got to take care of them and they may not walk that well, so you want to get them situated. There’s just a lot of moving pieces that come in the ceremony anyway and then bad weather just kind of throws it the other way. Inside you’ll be so much happier, go with your backup plan, trust the people that you’re working with.

If they’re giving you the advice, they’re telling you for a reason and they’re trying to get you through your wedding ceremony so that they can get you to the party of the reception.

John:  That said, maybe I had my heart set on an outdoor ceremony, but maybe I just don’t want to chance it. Like you said, I don’t have the stomach for it to go through all of that. Is it gonna be outside? Is it not going to be outside? I just can’t take it. Maybe, I just know that my nerves won’t be able to handle that kind of pressure. What are some benefits of having an indoor ceremony and maybe I just want to choose right from the beginning that go ahead and just plan an indoor ceremony?

What are the good things about that?

Maureen:  I think the biggest benefit for an indoor ceremony truly is it’s much quieter. When you’re outside, you might have an airplane go by or a boat go by or a dog barking or somebody slamming doors in a car. You can’t completely control the elements outside. One thing about an indoor ceremony, the music is more sound‑oriented. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. People are closer to you usually in the indoor ceremony, where outside, it’s much broader, much wider space.

When we do ours, and I’m sure at other venues it’s the same thing, they have to put the chairs so closely together, it may be more intimate and the people that love you are even closer to you and actually can watch you get married. Of course, if you decide to go with a church then you always have maybe the organ is playing or whatever that church has for instruments. Again, it’s what you can bear and what you can bear that day and what you can bear as you’re planning.

The planning is enough to drive anyone crazy right now with all the details. If you just don’t have it in you, my advice is to go with the indoor ceremony

John:  All right. Good advice.

John:  Thanks for speaking with me today, Maureen.

Maureen:  Thanks you, John. Thank you for having me.

John:  For more information you can visit the Essex Room website at or call 978‑768‑7335.