Here’s Everything You Need to Consider If You’re Planning an Outdoor Wedding

There’s something special about saying “I do” out-of-doors, with the sun shining, the birds chirping, and a light breeze blowing through your veil as you walk down the aisle to your dearly beloved. Sounds great, right? Well, if you’ve dreamed of getting married outside, there are a few things you need to take care of to ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch. Whether you’re in your own backyard, in a breathtaking field, at a national park or on the lawn of a grand estate, here’s everything you need to do to make that warm-weather al fresco affair a success.

Planning an Outdoor Wedding

Photo by Southern Weddings.


1 Tents:

Because we can’t control the weather, renting a tent is a really good idea. But, believe it or not, that’s not always the easiest thing to do. There are a lot of questions that you’ll need to have an answer to. What structure would you like? Does your venue allow enough space for anchor ropes and stakes? Do you want side walls, and should they be transparent or solid? Plus, depending on the location of your wedding, you may or may not need a permit to set the tent up. There’s a lot to consider, but a talented rental professional and a helpful venue coordinator will be able to help you sort through all the details.

2 Generators:

When you’re outside, outlets and high levels of electricity aren’t exactly easy to find. But since you’re probably planning on having music and dancing, you’ll definitely need to bring in some A/V and lighting equipment, which require just a few accessible plugs. Depending on what your wedding venue already has made available to you, you might have to rent generators or invest in some heavy-duty extension cords to make sure everything runs smoothly all night long.

3 Flooring:

Imagine trying to bust a move on a dance floor made of sand (sore calves, anyone?) or your grandma’s chair sinking into the muddy grounds during your ceremony (that’s gonna get messy). Not so fun, right? Some types of terrain can be hard to walk, sit, and dance on, so think through the logistics of how you want the night to go before the big day. The goal is to make sure you and all your guests are comfortable and able to enjoy the night; make sure you look into your temporary flooring options. It might come with your tent rental, so don’t be afraid to ask questions before you start researching other companies.

4 Lighting:

There’s a pretty good chance you’ll celebrate into the night, and that means that it’s eventually going to get dark (because, well, nighttime). Unfortunately, you can’t just count on the moon and the stars to light up the night. Your venue or tent could already have light fixtures in place — bonus! — but extra lighting never hurt anyone. Overhead string lights or pretty lanterns will do the trick and look super romantic. Pro tip: Be careful with candles. Many venues — especially outdoor, wooded spaces — have rules about open flames as a fire precaution. Check with your site for any guidelines and limitations before you buy up all the candles you can find.

5 Noise Permits:

No good wedding is complete without music, whether it’s from a DJ or a band. Chances are, though, that music will get loud (hey, you like to party) — and since you’ll be outside, the noise will travel. That’s why many cities have local noise ordinances, which limit what the volume of your sound can be and what time the party (or at least the music) has to end. In many cases, venue coordinators will take care of this for you, but if your outdoor wedding is somewhere a little more unconventional (like your own backyard), you’ll need to figure out the rules and manage this detail in advance. The last thing you want is to have your party busted up by the cops…

6 Bathrooms:

They may not be the most glamorous part of planning your wedding, but it’s a necessary evil. Depending on several factors (like your venue, your guest count, the location of the nearest bathrooms, and the number of toilets available), renting portable restrooms could become a definite “must” on your to-do list. Luckily, you won’t have to go with those gross plastic boxes we’ve all seen at festivals and other major events. These days, there are plenty of sleeker options in sturdier structures. But be warned: some regions may require a health department inspection to make sure your restrooms are up to code. (Yes, really.)

7 Extreme Heat Plan:

Sweating through a tux probably isn’t something you’ve had on your wedding wish list, but if your nuptials are in the summer, it’s a definite possibility. Prepare for the hottest day possible by offering pretty program fans and providing electric fans, cool washcloths, and lots of ice-cold water for your guests. Even if it’s a perfectly sunny day, if the temperature gets too high, you might just need to move inside to keep everyone safe and happy.

8 Backup Plan:

Speaking of moving inside, you absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt MUST have a back-up plan for your outdoor nuptials. Too many couples skip the back-up plan because they “just have a feeling” the weather will cooperate. Two words: Bad idea. At the very least, rent an extra tent and some flooring so your guests will be comfortably covered and not knee-deep in mud on the off-chance it actually does end up raining. But even a tent might not be enough; you’re better off finding an indoor option that you’ll be just as happy with on your big day. If your wedding is at a venue like a country club, resort or estate, the venue will likely have a space that you can reserve (just make sure you actually do it!). If you’re nowhere near a building, you may need to find an entirely different venue to hold on reserve.