Outdoor weddings are some of the dreamiest, most beautiful settings to get married. That said, planning an outdoor wedding can have some very unique challenges. From choosing the right location to preparing for unpredictable weather conditions, and everything in between, theres a lot of thought that needs to go into planning the perfect outdoor wedding. I’ve shot enough weddings outdoors in Canada to know the MUST haves to ensure your wedding day is as stress-free as possible. To help get an idea of how to plan a perfect outdoor wedding, I’ve complied a list of 10 tips to get started.
1. Choose the Right Location
This might seem obvious. But choose a location that is suitable for an outdoor wedding. What time of year are you getting married and are the conditions right for that venue? If you want a gorgeous mountain backdrop in Banff, Canada, for instance, you’ll want to plan your wedding in the summer or fall. Spring weddings can be gorgeous, but if the location is known for tempermental weather, you might not get the warm spring day you’re looking for. Consider the weather conditions, the terrain, and the accessibility of the venue. If you have guests coming from out of town, you’ll want to make sure that traveling from the nearest airport and booking hotels close to your venue is an option. Look for a location that offers both natural beauty and practicality.
2. Have a Backup Plan
Outdoor weddings are subject to unpredictable weather conditions, so always have a backup plan in case of rain or extreme heat. I’ve been to weddings in the middle of August that go from a gorgeous blue sky day to a surprise hail and thunderstorm with no warning. Consider renting a tent or indoor space to keep your guests dry and comfortable in case your first plan is dashed by the weather.
3. Inform Your Guests
Make it very obvious to your guests that your wedding is outdoors, so they can plan their attire accordingly. Provide this information on your wedding website or wedding invitations. This way they can come as prepared as possible know all the information about the location and terrain, instead of asking you for extra details.
4. Rent Appropriate Equipment
You’ll want to rent proper wedding equipment such as chairs, tables, linens, and lighting that is suitable for an outdoor wedding. When looking for rental vendors, let them know you need rentals that are durable for outdoors. Make sure to choose equipment that can withstand wind, rain, and other weather conditions.
5. Prepare for Bugs
Outdoor weddings are great, but they often have a lot more unwelcome guests: bugs. There is nothing worse than choosing a gorgeous outdoor location for your ceremony only to be attacked by mosquitos or ants. Consider hiring a pest control company or providing bug spray and citronella candles for your guests. Especially if you’re planning to have your reception outdoors, you don’t want your guests to be left swatting away bugs or itching at bites.
6. Dress Appropriately
Consider the terrain and weather conditions when choosing your wedding dress and shoes. I’ve captured a lot of gorgeous brides winter wonderlands, but the wedding portraits can be very uncomfortable if you don’t have boots under your dress or Opt for comfortable shoes that will allow you to walk on
grass, sand, or uneven terrain.
7. Choose the Right Time
Choose a time of day that offers the best lighting and weather conditions for your outdoor wedding. Consider the sun’s angle and position. Do you want your guests to be sitting outside during the ceremony for the warmest/coolest part of the day? When is the sun setting and is that integral to any of the moments you’re planning? Lighting for outdoor weddings can be gorgeous, but it’s also contantly changing so you will want to plan accordingly.
8. Offer Shade
Consider providing shade for your guests, especially during hot summer months. You could rent a canopy or provide parasols or fans to keep your guests cool.
9. Hire Experienced Vendors
Choose vendors, such as a wedding photographer, wedding planner, caterer, musician’s/DJs, florist, etc., who have experience working at outdoor weddings. They will be able to provide additional insights on the best practices for an outdoor wedding, and offer specific suggestions tailored to your needs.
10. Keep Your Guests Comfortable
Consider your guests’ comfort when planning your outdoor wedding. Consider providing plenty of water, sunscreen, bug spray, and make sure there are restrooms and seating available. If there’s a chance it could be chilly, provide a few heaters or sheltered areas for guests. If it’s going to be warmer, consider shaded or air conditioned areas. Keeping you guests happy and comfortable will help your outdoor wedding go off without a hitch.
So yes, planning an outdoor wedding requires careful consideration and preparation. But they also are so beautiful and can be so much fun when executed properly. Start with these 10 tips and you’ll be well on your way to planning a magical and memorable outdoor wedding.