I love an outdoor ceremony.
Lush green settings, fragrant flowers, the sounds of birds chirping. And considering the popularity of outdoor wedding venues, it’s obvious that many brides and grooms do too.
But not every outdoor location was designed with the needs of a wedding ceremony in mind, which causes it’s own set of issues that have to be planned for to ensure the enjoyment, ease, and comfort of everyone involved.
Make sure everyone has the best experience by checking out these 9 tips for a joyous outside wedding celebration.
1. Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy (But Not When It’s In My Eyes).
There’s nothing like sitting outdoors, the sun beautifully shining, witnessing a loved ones wedding vows.
Unless the sun is shining directly into your guests’ eyes, making them squint, or having to close their eyes. You know they won’t be thinking happy thoughts for you and your fiancé while their eyes are closed and watering.
Also, you don’t want the sun to be in your or your fiance’s eyes either. How can you exchange vows and say “I do,” if you can’t clearly and comfortably see your fiancé (or have him/her see you)?
How to avoid this? Easy.
Go out to your ceremony site at a similar time of day as well as time of year to see where the sun will be at in the sky. That way you can decide what will be the best placement and orientation for seating.
Sometimes changing the angle that the seats will be facing isn’t a good option. If that’s the case consider providing programs or hand-held fans that guests can also use to shield their eyes, provide inexpensive sunglasses, or getting a tent.
2. “I Think Truth Has No Temperature.” (quote by Cameron Diaz)
Photo credit: joshuaraineyphotography / 123RF Stock Photo
Truth may not have a temperature, but your outdoor ceremony will. The question is, how comfortable will that temperature be?
Ok. You’re probably not planning on an outdoor ceremony in December. But considering the potential temperature (and humidity) is important to everyone’s comfort.
June is often comfortable, but it can be humid. October is often warm enough for short sleeves or a light sweater, but is can turn cold.
Doesn’t mean you can’t have your ceremony outside. Just be sure to provide means to provide comfort for your guests. Maybe a fan or an outdoor heater. Bottled water on hot, humid days, and hot chocolate for when it’s cold. Cheap, pashmina wraps for the ladies (Google “cheap pashmina wraps” and you will find lots of sources).
3. “Love Is Like The Wind. You Can’t See It But You Can Feel It.” (Quote by Nicholas Sparks).
The temperature isn’t the only type of weather that can affect your wedding. Even though you may not be able to see the wind, everyone can see the problems it can cause.
Altar arrangements get blown about. Unity candles won’t stay lit. Aisle runners won’t stay in place. Your beautiful up-do can come undone in the wind. Candelabras can topple over.
Some easy remedies include:
- Securing the base of tall candelabras or other tall decorative pieces.
- Incorporating a sand ceremony or other unity candle alternative.
- Placing décor such as pretty containers of flowers along edge of an aisle runner to keep it from blowing up (and becoming a walking hazard).
4. The (Six-Legged) Uninvited Guests
Outside means nature, and nature means bugs. Especially if you’re in a wooded area or near standing water. They’re also attracted to perfumes with a floral or fruity fragrance.
There may be just a few pesky bugs, or there may be a lot. But they will be there. And they will be distracting and unpleasant for everyone – your guests and you.
Avoid swatting at mosquitos while you’re saying your “I dos.”
Set off bug bombs. Burn citronella candles. Spray for bugs beforehand.
Provide insect repellant (Burt’s Bees makes a nice herbal based repellant). Have a basket with individual insect repellant wipes on hand for your guests. (Google “individual bug repellent wipes in bulk”).
Decorate with flowers and other florals that are a natural insect repellant, such as sprigs of rosemary, lavender, mint, and thyme.
5. Can You Hear Me Now?
Your guests want to hear your vows. I mean, how can you expect them to be engaged and enjoy being there for you if they’re struggling to hear what’s going on?
If they can’t hear, they’re going to be thinking (or worse, whispering) “what’d she say?” “What part are they up to?” “How much longer?” “I can’t hear a thing!”, instead of “Oh, I’m so happy for them,” and “Their vows are so beautiful,” while dabbing tears from the corners of their eyes.
Many indoor ceremony venues have a sound/PA system. Others venues were built with beautiful acoustics.
However, that’s not the case outside.
Unless the size of your guest list is relatively small, consider renting a microphone and speaker.
6. These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ (But How Far Is That Walk?)
Photo credit: arinahabich / 123RF Stock Photo
Chances are your beautiful outdoor ceremony site is remote and secluded.
This may sound romantic, and is probably part of the charm that made you choose that site. But it may prove tricky for some to actually get to. Or awkward for those ladies wearing heels. (Help avoid this by clearly indicating on your invitations of the outdoor nuances of your ceremony so your guests can choose proper footwear).
Think about how far is the distance between parking and the actual site? Are there long meandering paths? Uneven terrain? Trails through tall grass? Rocky walkways?
If that’s the case, it is likely that it will take more effort on everyone’s part to actually get to the ceremony site.
Is there a closer access road for your elderly guests?
If possible, arrange to have golf carts or a shuttle available to help get guests as close as possible. Designate a few hearty bodied gentlemen to help those who may need assistance.
For the ladies in heels, provide plastic heel protectors, such as The Solemates, Heels Above. or Grass Walkers. They keep high heels from sinking into the ground. Makes it easier for them, and protects their shows at the same time.
7. Baby, You Can Drive My Car (But Where Will It Be Parked?)
Again, chances are your beautiful outdoor ceremony site is remote and secluded.
So, where will your guests have to park?
Is there a nearby parking lot? A parking lot that’s a 5 minute walk from your ceremony site? Or is parking more scattered?
You will need to be more creative with the parking situation if yours is not a traditional ceremony site. Parking may be off the street, in a field, or down a gravel lane. Will it be easy for your guests to see their way to find their cars at the end of your event?
8. It’s All About Location, Location, Location. Unless It Isn’t Easy To Find Your Ceremony Site.
Photo credit: chrishumphreys / 123RF Stock Photo
I don’t mean finding the address, that’s the easy part (especially the help of a GPS). I’m talking about them finding your ceremony site once they get out of their car.
It may be obvious to you as to how to get to your ceremony site, but if there are other paths that lead elsewhere, your guests can become confused or lost.
Reaching some remote outdoor ceremony sites isn’t always obvious. Do we take that close by path on the right, or do we have to walk down that lane?
Make it foolproof with some simple signage. Providing a sign that states, “Ceremony this way” with an arrow pointing the way works wonders.
9. Extra! Extra! (Fees, That Is).
Perhaps the cost to use your outdoor wedding ceremony location is minimal (particularly so for private homes or sites that are open to the public, like parks or arboretums).
However, with some non-typical ceremony sites come additional planning and fees.
- If it’s harder for your vendors to access, will extra delivery fees be incurred?
- Outdoor sites may not have restrooms nearby. For the comfort of your guests, will you need to provide port-a-potties?
- Will you need valet parking if the nearest parking area is a good distance away?
- The outdoors doesn’t come with electrical outlets. Will you need to provide generators?
Hearts, Joy, Love!