Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies

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Outdoor ceremonies are beautiful backdrops for your vow exchange and can be very casual or very formal. As beautiful as they are, they do require some additional considerations. Follow these tips to plan the perfect outdoor ceremony.

Make your guests comfortable. You want your guests to remember your wedding as beautiful, not as the time they nearly melted under the August sun. A little advance planning can keep your guests cool. If you are getting married during warm months, consider timing your ceremony during the cooler morning hours with a lunch reception, or late afternoon followed by a dinner reception. Avoiding the hottest hours of the day will make everyone more comfortable. If you are getting married in cooler months, patio heaters will help to take the chill from the air.

Keep it cool (or warm). Both you and your guests will need to stay hydrated. Consider having your ushers pass out ice cold water as they seat guests. You could also add an outdoor beverage station of lemonades and ice teas. It’s best to avoid alcohol in the heat as it will further dehydrate you. You can also have your wedding program printed on fans. If you are having a fall wedding, cocoas, teas and hot ciders work well in a warming station too.

Have a backup plan. What will you do if it rains? Choose a ceremony location that offers an indoor location in case of inclement weather. Be sure to ask how far in advance you will need to make the decision to hold the ceremony inside or outside to allow for setup of seating. If the location does not have an interior option, you may want to investigate event tents.

Plan for Wind. Many outdoor weddings suffer from windy conditions. If you are using fabric in your decorations, you can sew small weights to keep it properly positioned. It is a good idea to let your hair stylist and gown consultant know you are planning an outdoor wedding so they can advise you on choices that are wind resistant. If high winds are called for, a tent can help make the ceremony more comfortable, but make sure it is rated and secured for windy conditions.

Can you hear me now? Outdoor ceremonies are visually appealing, but what about the audio? If you would like music for the processional, recessional and other key moments or a microphone so your guests can hear the exchange of vows, discuss ceremony options with your wedding DJ.

Don’t bug me. You don’t want your ceremony crashed by uninvited guests – mosquitoes, bees and other flying nuisances. Be sure to put out citronella candles, bug zappers or treat the area in advance.

Sunny days are here again. If your outdoor ceremony will take place on a sunny day, try to position the seating so that the sun is behind guests and not in their eyes. Guests may appreciate sunscreen packets and sunglasses, which can often be purchased at dollar stores. Have a few umbrellas available. In the event of rain or hot sunshine, your older guests, babies, and those that sunburn easily will appreciate having one.

Permits. If you are considering a public park for your ceremony, you will likely need a permit. Be sure you know the requirements and availability for trash removal, electricity, candle lighting and parking.

A soccer tournament at your wedding! You don’t want to plan the perfect ceremony at your favorite park, only to find out the week of your wedding is the regional soccer tournament or sand castle building challenge. Check with park event managers about events that will also be scheduled for your wedding date. Many festivals, tournaments and concerts are scheduled annually so the event manager can advise you before your date is set.

Your attire. For a simple, outdoor ceremony, many brides choose a wedding gown with understated style. You may also want to consider wearing ballet slippers or wedges so that your heals do not sink into the grass.

Additional considerations. If you are considering an outdoor ceremony, you may need to factor in arrangements and costs for guest seating. It may also be necessary to have an alternate location for getting ready and pre-ceremony photography if a bridal area is not available.

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