Photography courtesy of Frank "bald photo guy" Donnino - Frank Donnino Photography www.mybaldphotographer.com
Outdoor weddings can be absolutely beautiful no matter the setting: a sandy beach, botanical gardens, fun and whimsical parks, or even your backyard. There is a lot of legwork involved to make sure that your guests are comfortable no matter which type of venue you choose.
Today, VG Invites has compiled a list of our top outdoor wedding tips because - even if you are located in Southern Florida like we are - each place has its ups and downs.
Keep Your Guest Out of the Sun and the Rain
The best way to help keep your guests safe from the elements is to set up some sort of tent. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You should be able to easily coordinate the material and style of tent with the theme of your wedding. Double check to make sure the tent that you choose works with the surface and groundwork of your venue, whether it be sand, pavement, grass, or even the uneven terrain of the forest floor.
Be sure to check and make sure that your tent is weatherproof. You can also equip the tents with fans and air conditioners. Dancefloors for uneven terrain are available as well.
Keeping The Bugs Away
Create a space that is both relaxing and bug free by having an exterminator spray the area ahead of time (around two days prior to the wedding will ensure that the pesticides are cleared for you and your guests; and the bugs are still gone). You can also place citronella candles or tiki torches around the ceremony and reception.
If your venue doesn’t allow for candles, torches, or any sort of flame, consider giving everyone a bug repellant bracelet. You can also set up big fans that face outward at each of the doors to help drive away bugs. Essential oils like citronella, lavender, and tea tree oils work great against bugs as well. You can incorporate them into homemade bars that you leave at each of the tables. BONUS! They also make great homemade favors.
Getting the Lighting Just Right
In our experience, setting the mood has to do with lighting. There are a number of lighting techniques that you can use in order to ensure that your venue is lit properly for photos and for the festivities. Light up walkways with luminaries and rope lights. Hang tea lights in mason jars from tree branches and Sheppard’s hooks. If you’re a little uneasy about your knowledge of lighting, you can even hire a lighting professional to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
Provide the Necessities
When you check out the outdoor area, double check for bathrooms (you may have to rent a few depending on what you have available to you).
Photo courtesy of Frank "bald photo guy" Donnino - Frank Donnino Photography www.mybaldphotographer.com
Bringing lots of décor and textiles into your tent can help make it seem cozier and not so outdoorsy for the guests that don’t much like the prospect of sitting under a tree. Linens of various colors, vibrant lighting, even pillows are an option. Lounge furniture is a great option for your older guests who won’t want to enjoy the lawn or beach games that you may provide.
Make sure to keep plenty of fans (if the weather will be warm), umbrellas (if you expect rain), or blankets/towels (if you expect to be cold or get wet).
Have Fun With Your Menu
The menu for an outdoor wedding can be much more relaxed and whimsical. You can do anything from a clambake or a pig roast to a more relaxed snacks and finger food type menu. There are certain challenges that come with outdoor menus. To alleviate these, make sure to schedule a meeting time with your caterer to make sure that they have the equipment needed to cater properly in the area. They may need a separate tent to prep the food so keep that in mind as well.
No matter the food, one of the more important aspects of a menu at an outdoor wedding should be refreshing nonalcoholic drinks and water to make sure that everyone stays hydrated. Outdoor weddings are more common during the warmer months of the year and you don’t want your guests getting heatstroke or dehydrated.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t include an outdoor bar. There are some great bars that you can rent or even build around ice chests or small refrigeration units. If you have hired a catering service, ask them for their options. In addition to the caterers, you may also want to consider Victoria’s signature cocktails sign. The text is customizable to allow for you to create specific “his” and “her” drinks.
VG Invites has had our fair share of outdoor wedding experience, however we wanted to get some advice from others. We asked our favorite experts to share their tips and here is what they had to say:
Southern Charm Weddings
Tip: if having an outdoor wedding in the heat of summer have a back up plan for if it is too hot and humid. You don't want to pass out in a heavy wedding dress or have your cake melt.
Rev. Liz Grimes
All Faiths Wedding Officiants of the Triad
Tip: When planning an outdoor wedding try to visit the venue at the same time of day and time of year as your wedding. Be aware of where the sun will be in the sky. Your officiant should not look angry in photos as they struggle to read your ceremony with the sun in their eyes and your guest should not have to squint into the sun to see your joyful faces.
Rev. Joy Burke
Saratoga Wedding Officiant
Be sure your officiant knows to step out of the way during the kiss. You will be looking at that picture for decades and the last thing you want to see is someone's face between you.
Teatime Delicacies, Inc.
I'm a caterer, and please please please get sidewalls for your tent. This is a photo of a wedding reception at a private home and they didn't want to spend the extra money. A terrible storm blew through about 1/2 hour prior to ceremony and upended tables and linens were drenched. As was I trying to salvage the damage. Weather happens, folks.
Please share your tips or outdoor wedding disasters below with the VG Invites audience. We would love to hear from you.