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This Is Your Ultimate Guide To Planning An Outdoor Wedding

43% of US weddings are now held outside, so we’re here to help you plan your wedding in the great outdoors.

This Is Your Ultimate Guide To Planning An Outdoor Wedding

More and more couples are opting for an outdoor wedding, and with good reason. There is something truly romantic about getting married outdoors.

Whether you’re thinking a big back garden, a field, a beach, a mountaintop or somewhere else, you can really embrace a less-is-more approach. Plus you’ve got the added bonus of the stunning scenery as your main piece of decor.

The one thing most people worry about? The weather. But that’s actually not the only thing to think about. There are plenty of logistics and other wedding planning points you need to consider when planning an outdoor wedding.

So to help you stop you feeling overwhelmed, we’ve put together this guide to help you know everything there is to know about planning an outdoor wedding.

P.S. If you scroll to the very bottom, there’s even a free checklist. Enjoy!

Your Location

When people think of an outdoor wedding they picture a beautiful open field or a rustic area in the woods. Just one problem – what happens if it rains? When it comes to your location, it’s best to choose one that’s meaningful to you and practical. Here are some to choose from:

Beach

This is probably the most popular choice when it comes to outdoor weddings. Just remember to look at a few points, including the paperwork you need to have a beach wedding ceremony. There are usually lots of lovely restaurants nearby too so try to find one that’s the perfect fit for all your guests.

Back garden

If you know someone with a big back garden, this is a great budget-friendly option. Tents can be pitched pretty much anywhere and come in all different shapes, sizes, and materials. Work with your rental company to find one that works with your space.

A B&B

What’s great about this option is that you won’t need any transportation after the wedding. Plus you’ve got the added bonus of having a back up indoor option, which is definitely needed (but you could also make sure your wedding insurance package covers bad weather).

Local park

There are usually local parks to rent in big cities where you can get married (Hyde Park is one of them!) Some will have smaller, more intimate areas where you can have your wedding reception.

Vineyard

Wineries are great because they have beautiful scenery. But they also usually come with a big tent or indoor dining option in case you need it.

What you need to think about for an outdoor wedding

Pick a focal point

You know at parties where there’s one point where guests gather together? You need to consider this when it comes to your outdoor wedding, so pick a focal point. This means your guests won’t be spread out and won’t feel lost in the space. You can always break your area up into different sections too.

Make it accessible

No matter where your location is, you need to make sure it’s accessible to all guests. Put up some signs to show people where the key sections of your wedding are (e.g. ceremony, reception etc.)

Plan your day strategically

A wedding day is a long time so you want to make sure you have a great flow to the day. So think about your day as a timeline, from start to finish. And ideally, you don’t want to have to be moving furniture around from one place to another.

Weather

It’s such a key factor, isn’t it? And no matter what the weather is like, you need some weatherproof. If you’re having your ceremony outside try and do it before the hottest part of the day, which is between 1-3pm. For a summer wedding, bring in some air conditioning units and for a winter outdoor wedding, bring in those heaters.

Permits

If you’re getting married on a beach or in a park, make sure you research permits. Make sure you also ask about:

  • Timings (how long the permit is for)
  • Rubbish removal
  • Noise policy
  • Candlelight

Insects

Ah yes, with an outdoor wedding comes those pesky insects. Make sure you’ve got protective covers for your food as well as covers on your venue, which will also protect against the wind. There’s also the option of hiring an exterminator if you know the area is prone to insects.

Lighting

You can really set the mood with lighting when it comes to an outdoor wedding. Check with your location, first of all, to see if you’re allowed candles or torches. If not, string lights, lanterns and stately chandeliers all look beautiful. You could also light up certain areas, like the walkway to the bathroom or hang mason jars from tree branches (we love this idea).

One thing to note: check with an electrician. They’ll first be able to tell you whether it passes all the inspection laws, and will also let you know if you need an extra power source. Using an extension chord usually won’t be enough for lighting, the band/DJ AND your caterers, so make sure you’re well equipped. Nobody wants a blackout!

View your venue in advance

This is a must-do especially before you rent anything or buy any decor items. Walk through your venue at the same time you’d be having your ceremony. It’ll make it easier to spot any loopholes (like insects of the heat) and you’ll also be able to plan of where to strategically place your decor.

Wedding cake

Everybody loves a wedding cake! But the heat doesn’t. So keep in mind the temperature outside and where you’re placing your cake. Talk to your cake maker, because if you do want to display it in the sun, fondant lasts a lot longer than buttercream. You could always put it in a shaded area or in your tent.

Be aware of too much sun

Most people worry about the rain when it comes to an outdoor wedding, but what if it’s too hot? Staying in the sun for too long can cause heat exhaustion. Try and offer as much shelter as you can. You don’t want everyone to be falling asleep before the party! Hiring a canopy can be a great option here.

The Decor

The best part of an outdoor wedding is having that beautiful backdrop of scenery to plan your decor around. Visit your location a few weeks before to make sure it looks great (leaves are raked, the grass is cut, flowers are blooming etc.)

Now you can choose some extra decorative accessories to complete the look. Here are a few ideas to think about:

  • Drape fabrics from the tent’s ceiling to create different rooms or sections
  • Hang string lights and white paper lanterns
  • Hang a big chandelier from a tree
  • Use lots of floating candles
  • Line mason jars wrapped in twine as walkway areas
  • Use a rustic arch as a focal point
  • Hang fabric between two tall trees

The Extras

A tent is a blank canvas, so you’ll likely need some other things to bring your look together. Thankfully there are so many options available, from colourful cushions to textured curtains. Decide what elements are most important for you and prioritise your budget that way. (Just don’t forget the chairs!)

It’s also important to check your returns policy with your supplier. For instance, if you’re hiring glassware, this might have to be cleaned before being returned. Make a plan with your wedding coordinator to stay on top of this.

Make sure you also hire your location for more time than you think – before the time of your wedding and the day after.

Provide everything for your guests

Keep them hydrated

As the bride and groom, you’ll be so busy that you won’t have time to look after your guests. So don’t leave them guessing and keep them hydrated. You could have a drink dispenser of cold lemonade or iced tea and then personalised water bottles with your guests on.

Cool them down

If it is a very hot day, you could provide some pretty fans that they can use outside. These can also be doubled up as wedding favours!

Footwear

Let your guests know in advance what kind of footwear will be appropriate for your outdoor wedding. The best way to do this is through your wedding website. If it’s an open field or beach, then let the ladies know that stilettos won’t be the best option!

Sun protection

If you know the temperature is going to be high, provide a little box filled with sunscreen. This is one less thing your guests have to worry about.

A little bit of warmth

What if it’s cold outside? A great idea here is to provide a basket full of blankets with a little sign that says “to keep you warm.” Such a lovely touch.

If it does rain…

Don’t worry about it! The weather is among the top five fears for all brides, but that’s why it’s always important to have a backup plan or an alternative location. Just create a rain plan! Having a plan B isn’t something to stress about. It’s just making sure you’ve got one less thing to worry about.

We hope you enjoyed this guide to planning an outdoor wedding. Feel free to pin this checklist below for later to help you with your wedding planning.

By Holly Sutton

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Outdoor wedding planning checklist