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Outdoor Weddings – How to Plan

Planning an outdoor wedding? What to know, expect and how to plan.

There are so many details in wedding planning – from the big decisions like choosing your venue and setting the date to the smaller details like color scheme and seating charts. Choosing a venue is probably the single most important decision to make.

As if planning a wedding wasn’t already stressful enough? Enter, COVID-19. Many couples faced the reality of needing to plan a much smaller wedding than anticipated. Venue cancelations and dates getting pushed back, travel regulations, and indoor restrictions led many couples to reconsider what their vision looked like.

Instead of getting dismayed with smaller guest lists and restrictions, couples turned to alternative locations. Smaller guest lists allowed couples to get creative and consider parks, barns, historic homes, scenic vistas, backyards, even fields. As more and more weddings migrate outdoors, the view a venue offers carries as much weight as the amenities, if not more.

If you are reading this and wondering if an outdoor ceremony and/or reception is right you, be sure to check out these important things to consider

Location, Location, Location:

Where you want to wed will affect your outdoor wedding plans. Is it sweltering hot 9 months of the year, hurricane season, or in the case of Maine, black fly season? In the mountains, weddings occurring in the fall could even risk snow! Trying to plan around probable weather is a good place to start when selecting a date. Unfortunately, you cannot control the weather. Ask your vendor and discuss alternatives to inclement weather. You will be glad you did.

PRO TIP: often venues will offer significant discounts on weddings during non-peak times. Although budget friendly, they usually have the highest risk for unfavorable weather. If it is a destination wedding, expect limitations in activities for your guest to enjoy.

Best of Both Worlds:

If you live in an area like Rangeley, Maine, where black fly season coincides with the lupine wedding you have always dreamt of, do not fret. A hybrid option might be the solution! Holding the ceremony outdoors with the views you want mixed with an indoor reception is a great option. This scenario holds the least risk for unfavorable weather (or bugs). You get the gorgeous pictures and the conveniences of an indoor reception without the worry.

PRO TIP: No couple wants bad weather for their wedding day. EXPECT THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST. If bad weather does show, go with the flow and do not lose focus on the reason for the day – you are marrying your best friend. You can reminisce over it years later.

Tally it Up: 

Here are some little talked about considerations when looking at alternative locations for weddings in spaces like mountaintops or fields.

Accessibility – can all my guests safely get to the location? Consider any elderly family members in attendance or those with limited mobility.

If the area is remote, expect to rent many items and do a lot of the preparation yourselves.

PRO TIP: Some venues may seem inexpensive and magical at first sight, but until you rent a tent, portable restrooms, all your tables and chairs and china, staffing, and caterer it will cost you about the same. Moreover, it puts a lot more work on you to coordinate.

Fashion Does Not Come First

Less is always more. Every bride dreams of her dress, and the hunt for the perfect dress. For an outdoor ceremony, forego the trailing train, loads of flowing fabric and long veil. When the wind picks up (because it will) long veils and flowing dresses blow out of control. You want to focus on your partner’s eyes walking down the aisle not be holding your dress in place or untangling your veil. Long trains will get drug through the mud and dirt, you spent a lot of time finding your dress, don’t ruin it!

Opt instead for a dress that is easy to move in and navigate over any unleveled ground and grass. Choose a wedge or chunkier heeled shoe for stability if flats are not your style. If you cannot resist the look of a sexy stiletto, you can purchase heel caps for around $10 like these Heel Caps- Amazon. I used them for my own wedding, and they work.

Thanks for reading!

Laura Hayden

Wedding and Event Manager

Check back soon to see what other topics I’ll be discussing!

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