There’s something so magical and lovely about celebrating a wedding outdoors. Just imagine a majestic mountain view, the fresh smell of redwood trees, the romantic, rolling hills of a vineyard, or the comfort of your own backyard.
Celebrating your wedding outdoors creates a whole different atmosphere and sets the mood. Whether you’re just hosting the ceremony or reception outside or you choose to have the whole wedding outdoors, here’s everything you need to know from managing the lighting and sound to keeping the bugs away.
Make Your Guests Comfortable
If your wedding is in the summer or you know the weather will be hot, try to plan your ceremony and reception in a shaded area. Have ice-cold water bottles and a lemonade or iced tea stand close by for guests to refresh themselves. You may also want to consider renting large, electric fans and a generator. Another way to make guests comfortable is to provide personal folding fans, umbrellas, hats, or sunglasses for guests to wear. You can also design your wedding program to be large and sturdy enough to be used as a fan.
On the other hand, if you know the weather will be cold, make sure to let your guests know so they wear extra layers. If you want to make your guests feel super appreciated, give out small blankets, shawls, or wrap-around scarves as wedding favors. Your guests will appreciate the extra thought you put into making sure they stay warm.
Consider also renting portable heaters to provide warmth.
Have a Backup Plan
An ideal outdoor wedding location is one that has an indoor location close by in case the weather is bad or plans change. If you’re not sure on how the weather will be and don’t want to risk it, you can choose to hold the ceremony outdoors and reception indoors. In this case, if the weather is an issue, the ceremony can be moved inside and the tables can be re-arranged to make room for the ceremony.
Another backup plan is to rent a large tent, but keep in mind that tents can be very expensive (even more expensive than renting a building!) due to the labor involved in installed and securing the tent and then folding it back up. If you end up renting a tent, make sure it is sturdy and can withstand the wind and rain.
Have a Good Sound System
An outdoor wedding means that there are no walls to keep the sounds and music in one area. Rent out good quality speakers so that guests in the back rows are able to hear your vows or the bridal parties’ toasts, as well as enjoy the music.
Keep Mosquitos and Bugs Away
Inspect your wedding location a few days before the wedding to see if there are bugs, flies, or mosquitos that may be unwelcome to guests. You can hire a pest control company to spray the area several days before the wedding or talk with the property management to see if they are willing to treat the issue before the wedding. Make sure large trash cans are moved at least 100 feet away from the ceremony and reception location, as they attract flies and may add an unpleasant smell to the area.
To keep mosquitos away, set up citronella candles or tiki torches with citronella oil. The candles will also provide a nice warm, ambiance in the evening.
Keep Food and Drinks Fresh
If your reception is outside, serve drinks in large, covered jars or urns so flies and bugs don’t get into the liquid.
Ask your bartender(s) to keep wine bottles corked when not in use. To keep bugs out of the food, keep the food covered when possible. You can use glass domes over smaller plates, such as desserts and appetizers, and chafing dishes for the salads, entrees, and main course plates.
Another option is to set up perimeter fans near the food station, as the circulating air will keep flies and bugs away. Make sure the food station is set up in a shaded area, as many foods, especially salads, will not stay fresh for long in the sun or heat. Stationed fruit and cheese platters also attract flies, so it is better to keep them covered and in a cool area, away from the heat.
Wind-Proof Your Venue
If your wedding location is next to the coast or on the beach, expect to deal with the wind. And in general, if your wedding is outdoors, no matter the location, keep in mind that it can get windy. Some months and days are windier than others, so in addition to tracking the weather, don’t forget that the wind can play a major role in an outdoor wedding. Tell your hairstylist that you’re having an outdoor wedding, so they can style your hair to hold up in windy weather.
If you’re renting a tent, make sure the tent can withstand gusting winds or find a backup location indoors. If the wind is manageable, keep in mind the décor and florals, as well as escort cards. Make sure your escort cards are secure by tying them down to something sturdy or placing them in a display where the wind won’t blow them away.
Restrooms, Parking, and Other Needs
If you have the perfect secluded location planned to hold your ceremony or reception, don’t forget to consider items such as restrooms, parking, and generators (if electricity will be used). If your site does not have electricity, you’ll need generators for the kitchen appliances, speakers, portable heaters, and fans. If there are no public restrooms close by, you’ll need to rent portable restrooms.
If there is limited parking space, you may need to hire valet parking to assist your guests. Keep a list of all the appliances and rentals you’ll need to have your wedding run smoothly. Also consider the lighting. If your site does not have lighting, you can add string lights, torches, lanterns, and/or candles to create a romantic setting in the evening.
Florals and Décor
Depending on the weather, choose flowers that can withstand the heat or wind, such as roses, dahlias, sunflowers, and succulents. You may want to avoid flowers that attract bugs, such as baby’s breath and peonies. To keep bugs away, use natural herbs and flowers that act as natural pesticides, such as lavender, rosemary, mint, and thyme.
If wind is forecasted for your wedding day, ask your décor vendor to secure the flowers and any decorations so the wind doesn’t blow them away or topple them down.