The Great Outdoors: Tips for a Stress-Free Outdoor Wedding

by Rachel W. Miller on

Outdoor weddings can be incredibly beautiful, especially this time of year...but they can also be stressful for the couple doing the planning. If you want to take things outside for your wedding but are worried about the details (Rain! Bugs! Where will everyone sit?!) we've got tips for planning a stress-free outdoor wedding.
Figure out what kind of rules and permits you'll be subjected to before you plan anything. Getting married at the park near your childhood home may seem like the best idea ever, but that park may have a lot more rules and regulations than you realize. So find out whether you can reserve a space, what you need to know about event planning, if you can put up decor (and if so, what kind), and whether you can serve alcohol.
Know that there's more to a good rain plan than just a tent. While having a tent or an alternate location in case of rain is a very good idea, you should also plan to have have nice (and sturdy!) umbrellas for the entire bridal party and parents, and pretty rain boots and a rain jacket (or just a nice cover-up) for the bride. While rain won't ruin your wedding day, a soaked bride shivering through her vows is not ideal.
Don't just prepare for rain...prepare for sun too. Though getting married in the summer sunshine sounds delightful, it's less delightful if you're squinting or in shadow in all of your photos. Once you've scouted a location you like, talk to your photographer about where the sun will be during your ceremony so you can position everyone accordingly. And if you won't be getting married in a shady spot, ask your maid of honor to be on SPF duty the day of so your bridal party doesn't end up with a nasty sunburn.
...and, while you're at it, prepare for wind. Wind can mess with a lot of carefully-made wedding plans, including pretty decorations, gorgeous hairstyles, and guests' ability to hear the vows. If wind is a possibility (and it really is most places), double check that all your decor can withstand a very strong breeze and talk to whoever is helping you set up sound equipment about the ability to be heard on a windy day.
Find an outdoor venue that does weddings regularly. There's a lot to be said for finding a non-traditional wedding venue (it can be gorgeous and budget-friendly) but that will mean figuring out a lot of the logistics yourself. An outdoor venue that does dozens of weddings every year will either have the details covered (i.e. they supply the chairs and the tent) or have advice on best practices for couples getting married (i.e. "Avoid this type of chairs, which will sink on the grass").
Help guests plan accordingly. Your guests' comfort should be high priority; letting them know what to expect is super helpful. Your wedding website is the perfect place to put details about your outdoor wedding like a photo of the venue and the kind of weather you're expecting (and the worst-case scenario weather). If guests are traveling from out of town, use the wedding website and social media to keep them updated on the local weather predictions for the weekend, and stock their welcome bags with any last-minute things that may be useful.
Keep very old and very young guests in mind. For example, if there will be a lot of walking from the parking lot to the clearing in the woods where the ceremony is, or Porta Potties only, let them know.
Do your best to keep guests comfortable the day of. While you hope your guests will plan ahead, you can fill pretty baskets with things like parasols, fans, inexpensive sunglasses, or pashminas to help guests deal with the elements on-site. And making sure your site is well-equipped with things like fans, outdoor heating units, well-lit paths to the bathrooms, refreshing non-alcoholic drinks, and citronella candles are a must.
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