There’s so much to love about an outdoor wedding. Whether it’s set on the beach, at a winery or even in the backyard of a family member, pledging your eternal commitment to your partner in beautiful natural surroundings makes the day extra memorable.
If you’re thinking of holding the big day in the great outdoors, you’re in good company. Over the past decade, outdoor ceremonies are on the rise: 52 percent of couples tied the knot in an outdoor ceremony in 2017, compared to 29 percent in 2009, according to the TheKnot.com’s 2017 Real Weddings Study. Couples are also shying away from churches, hotels and banquet halls as settings for the ceremony receptions and opting instead for less conventional sites, such as rooftop event spaces, historic homes, wineries and parks.
Unlike the traditional venues, an outdoor ceremony and reception has its own set of considerations when it comes to planning. These practical tips will get you started in building the outdoor wedding of your dreams.
- Sketch out the itinerary early: Before you sign the contract with your chosen venue, discuss in detail your vision with the coordinator, and before you leave, be perfectly clear on what’s permissible and what’s off-limits. If you’re envisioning dancing the night away under the stars, you don’t want to find out three weeks before the big day that the venue has restrictions on equipment and noise. Before you sign any contract, have your itinerary ready and discuss it from start to finish.
- Plan your equipment needs: One thing to know about holding a wedding venue in a less conventional spot is venues can vary wildly on what they can provide for you in terms of supplies and equipment. Take time to walk through the entire event so you’re clear on what you may need to supply yourself. Even if a venue lacks essentials like power outlets and bathroom stalls, don’t give up. There are affordable solutions out there to help you upgrade the space to a fully functional venue. Your local rental store, for example, is an essential stop for anyone planning a wedding. In addition to all the wedding gear you could need, from decorations to seating, they also have lots of other equipment and ideas to help you plan the perfect outdoor event.
- Always have a Plan B: It’s impossible to predict what the weather will bring for an outdoor wedding, which can add uncertainty. But you can reduce the stress by planning for the worst conditions. Is hot and humid weather a possibility? How about a thunderstorm? A deposit on a rented air-conditioned tent and a set of misting fans can be a smart move. You may not end up needing these, but your peace of mind will be worth every penny.
- Set up a kids’ station: Many outdoor reception spaces have a built-in advantage for hosting pint-sized guests: There’s more space for them to stretch their legs and be kids without disrupting other guests. Create a kid-friendly corner featuring games, activities or even a rented inflatable bounce house that lets kids be active and let off some steam. They’ll be thrilled (and so will their parents).
- Encourage exploration:If the big event is held in a public place, help your guests fully appreciate the experience. Does the park have a hiking path that leads to a beautiful waterfall? Have maps printed and leave out a stack for those who decide to take a little break. Are you getting married in a beautiful garden at a historic mansion? Ask the venue if you can take extra brochures to offer the guests, or set aside time for special guided tours. This is a sure way to show consideration for your guests and make the day memorable.
When the pieces fall into place, planning and hosting an outdoor wedding is a beautiful way to begin your lives together.