Seven Tips For Planning An Outdoor Wedding

By Sharon McGukin
Sharon McGukin
Sharon McGukin
June 13, 2013 Updated: June 19, 2013

Planning an outdoor event requires more attention to detail than using an indoor site. In addition to people, place, and things, you also have to consider temperature, wind, and rain. Doing your homework in advance is important for planning an enjoyable wedding day.

Consider the Weather

When planning an outdoor event, it is a good idea to look at long-range weather forecasts prior to setting the date.

One valuable source of information is the Farmers’ Almanac. Printed yearly since 1818, this resource of projected weather forecasts is usually about 80–85 percent correct.

You can consult either the booklet or website during pre-planning research to get an overview of the type of weather that can be expected in your area on the potential date.

Plan for the Comfort of Your Guests

Ultimately, your guests are the reason for having a ceremony. If your plans didn’t include guests, the two of you could easily exchange vows more simply. So take the time to be considerate of their comfort.

Is there adequate seating that will not be too hot, cold, or windy? Will they be able to see the ceremony well from their seats, and not facing into the sun? Will they have difficulty reaching the site? Is there adequate and nearby parking?

Be considerate of your guests as you plan and think of potential sites from their point of view.

Think of How Temperature Will Affect Foods

Keeping food safe in extreme heat or palatable in very cold weather can be difficult outdoors. If facilities allow, it is sometimes easier to celebrate wedding vows outdoors and return indoors for serving food to your guests.

Ask for the advice of your caterer about the serving safety and presentation of your foods. Carefully consider the flow of your event not only in beautiful weather but also in case of inclement weather.

Take Precaution Against Insects

Being besieged by insects can spoil the joy of attending an outdoor event for both you and your guests.

Be sure to consider the invasion of insects during your ceremony and take precautions in advance. Ask your facility’s wedding planner or host to help take steps to alleviate the attendance of unwanted pests.

Bug sprays, granular repellants, citronella candles, and Tiki torches might help if utilized both in advance and during the ceremony.

Use Flowers of the Season

Flowers of the season are often more prepared for the current outdoor temperature than flowers of another season or those grown in another locale or climate.

For example, delicate spring flowers grown from bulbs are less prepared for surviving intense summer heat than perennial flowers that bloom in hot summer months.

In addition, there is a financial savings in using flowers that are readily available in the season, as these flowers are accustomed to the seasonal temperatures. Typically, the colors of seasonal flowers complement the fashion colors of that season, as well.

List Manner of Dress on Invitation

Guests will be more comfortable as they enjoy the festivities if they are properly dressed for the occasion.

Be sure to indicate the manner of dress that is appropriate to the location on your invitation. In particular, footwear may make a difference if guests have to traverse the terrain to reach your selected site.

Think of small gift details that can be useful. If the location is fairly warm, hand-held paper or woven fans can be used by guests. If it could become cool once the sun sets, a wrap such as a pashmina or decorative scarf tied to reception chairs makes a great wedding favor for guests.

Consider the need for fire pits and warm drinks if the weather is cool. If possible, visit your site in advance, during the season and time of day for your wedding events, and carefully consider the comfort of your guests in terms of seating, eating, and temperature during that time.

Have a Backup Plan

Perhaps the most important piece of the planning puzzle for an outdoor event is to create a backup plan for indoor facilities in case of inclement weather.

Check the extended weather forecast during your wedding week to keep updated as to potential weather situations. Advise your wedding party and immediate family of any alternate plans should weather situations arise. List the planned details of your alternate site on written information provided to the guests.

For a small gathering, you might set up a chain of contact for reaching your guests with updated information regarding last-minute changes. Provide your network of wedding professionals with all the information necessary for making sudden changes in location due to inclement weather as well.

Sharon McGukin (Mc Goo kin), floral expert and author of “Flowers of the Heart”
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