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Tips for Your Outdoor Wedding & Reception

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Now that we are in the swing of summer and wedding season, you may be day dreaming about your romantic outdoor wedding.

After consulting with a bride recently about her garden wedding and reception next summer we thought we'd share with you our short list; some of the more important topics when planning to say your I Do's outdoors during the summer months.

Is your venue a home, a country club or a park? Learn early on, before you put any money down on anything, what the facility/environment provides and what you need to bring in. This is the first and most important step when choosing your outdoor space!! Everything depends on your location!

Planning a wedding outdoors has it's own benefits as well as pitfalls. Wedding & reception at the same spot? Both outdoor? Consider these location specific issues from easiest to hardest:

  • A Club: A country club, golf course, hotel or large outdoor facility that has done weddings in the past are ideal for your outdoor wedding. They will have all the items needed or relationships with vendors who have worked at the location before. The location facilitator will have answers to your power issues, your bug questions, parking, restrooms, tents, noise allowances, lighting, heating, a back up plan concerns. Check to be sure, but they should have liability insurance. Make sure there will be a facility coordinator on site to help your vendors. If you have any issues down the line with the facility delivering you what you expected at the time of booking, hire a wedding coordinator or planner to help smooth the road and be the go between to make sure your vision is realized.

  • A Home: Weather it's your home, your parents home or a rental home location you need to question the following. Parking, neighbors & noise. Wear and tear to the home. Proper restroom facilities for the amount of guests. Rentals (you'll have a lot), chairs, tables, linens, dishes, silverware, glasses (port a potties). Kitchen facilities (consult with your caterer on space requirements, keeping things warm or cold enough till serving time) Power (an amplification system, DJ's needs, lighting can the home handle it all? When the sun goes down will you want/need overhead heaters? How's the bug control? Tent (level ground, power to, grass underneath)? Want to dance, rent a dance floor. Hire a professional planner to be your site director, you will need one. If you are asking a guest to take on this important task, they are no longer a guest, they are staff, plain and simple. Get liability insurance for your event.

  • A Park: Lots of work & restrictions abound. There will be many I'm afraid so you need to be very aware of the limits. You will need permits. If you want to serve cocktails, you need to know if public drinking is allowed. Is parking close, is there enough. What will the vendors charge to travel to you or an unusual location? How public/private is the area? Restroom facilities? Who & how will rental items like chairs & tables be brought in, set up and then broken down at the end of the evening? Will you serve food? How will this be done (how to keep foot hot or cold), linens, dishes, silverware, glasses? Want a DJ, Want dancing, you'll need a floor and power (you may need a generator, have you heard one lately?). What are the amplified noise regulations. Are you planning on having friends and family help with all these chores? Don't. How about hiring a coordinator to help you choose and oversee all vendors & specifics? Get liability insurance for your event.

Consider your environment. Set the time & formality level appropriately.

  • Be sweet and inform your guests about the formality on your invitation or at least your wedding website.
  • Will the ceremony be set up on grass? Please consider your lady friends and their footwear.
  • Choose attire for your wedding party that is appropriate for the setting. A tux may look odd at 2 pm in a garden. Choose flats for your bridesmaids with shawls for any chills!
  • Aisle runners are a lovely formality, but on grass, not so good.

Weather. Whatever the weather, today is the day!

  • We beg you to have a backup plan. Anything, just something. Be prepared for the fact your backup plan may become the reality and be okay with it in your heart.
  • A cool breeze feels great but can look like a tornado is hitting with lightweight fabrics used for your attire and anything else you may want to decorate with. Be prepared for a day that may have gusts of wind.
    • A 'clothesline' or ribbons that hang guests escort cards
    • A wishing tree with hanging ribbons & notes
    • Sign-age/ seating charts set up on easels (weigh it down and use adhesive)
    • Hanging votive candles (plan ahead and be safe)
    • Arch swags, curtain dividers, backdrops
    • Chuppahs (light enough so it's easily held or sturdy enough a breeze won't bring it over)
    • Table decorations, linens & floral displays (pin, clip and weigh these down)
    • Loose rose petals (gone in a gust of wind)
  • Where will the sun be hitting at the time of your vow exchange? No one should have to squint to see.
  • Wedding attire (see formality above).
  • A wedding tent for the ceremony/reception cannot handle a down pouring of rain. Be advised.
  • Have water on hand and available to guests from the moment they arrive.
  • Have parasols for extreme heat/sunlight as well as sunscreen available.
  • Think about making your wedding program into a fan or provide some.

Our number one suggestion is...
  • Have your outdoor wedding with a facility right next to it. Deal ONLY with facilities that have had large parties/wedding there before. This way your ability to have the ceremony/reception indoor or out can be changed and you have a proper areas for your vendors and bridal party.

Other Tips

  • Have amplification for the officiant during the ceremony.
  • Do any of your guests have a disability that the site would hinder their ability to navigate your event safely?
  • Do allergies run in the family? Be aware and considerate of your guests comfort level.
  • Ask questions & read your contract! You never know what you'll get if you do not ask. Ask your location management about local vendors for anything you need brought in. Be aware of time restrictions and extra costs if you do not choose the site's vendors or supplies.

Your needs and subsequent planning will be based on the site you choose, so choose carefully and thoughtfully! Do not fall in love and write a check based on a breathtaking view. Be a savvy bride, consider every aspect of the site you are choosing. In the end you'll be so happy you did (Remember this is the short list).

See some favorite outdoor wedding pictures here, Weddings In A Box - Outdoor Wedding Pictures

Happy planning!
~ w.s.

1 comment:

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