3 Tips for an Outdoor Wedding

by William Ray

Outdoor weddings require more than romance. You also have to be realistic and ready to surrender to Mother Nature and to unplanned events. If you like to be in control and want an outdoor wedding, be prepared with a few backup plans and go with the flow.

Work closely with your wedding planner, particularly if your chosen venue presents a challenge for vendors. Catering a garden wedding at a hotel is manageable, even if it rains. But if your food supplier doesn’t show up with the napkins for your beach barbeque – well, let’s just say improvisation is key. And nobody can improvise like an experienced planner who’s done it before.

In case of bad weather, you’ll need a tent for your event. A utilitarian tent can be rented on a few days notice, but if you want something fancy and can afford it, booking a tent in advance is best. Otherwise, make sure that backup space is specified in your contract with the hotel. It should be free, but remember that it will also require decoration, including flowers, to make it feel right for your wedding. Here are some tips to help you plan an outdoor wedding, whatever the setting:

Tip #1: Keep it small

If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, keep the guest list to a minimum. In case of a sudden change in plans or weather, you’ll be glad you did. This also minimizes sound and lighting logistics, a key item on the planner’s list. Remember, every guest should be able to hear every word. A good sound system and excellent lighting benefits not only your guests but your lasting photographs as well.

Tip #2: Outdoors doesn’t mean isolated

To avoid getting caught up wedding creek without a paddle, find an outdoor venue associated with a hotel. Resort hotels with gardens, grounds, and parks or beaches nearby are a natural. Whether your ceremony is on the grounds of a hotel, at a park or beach, or in a garden setting, change the setting for your cocktail reception or dinner. Bringing guests inside for part of the event is easy at a hotel.

Tip #3: Work with experienced vendors

Like selecting a realistic venue, choosing vendors who are experienced with outdoor venues is essential. Uneven terrain is as challenging as inclement weather, especially for caterers and entertainers who lug lots of equipment and need plenty of electricity to service your event.

Your planner will have a list of trusted vendors familiar with your venue, or willing to learn fast, which is another reason why hiring a wedding planner well in advance makes sense for an outdoor wedding. A good planner knows the score. A great one can improvise on a moment’s notice!