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Think about your ideal wedding: Is it on a sandy shore? A lush mountainside? A charming, quaint desert farm? A rustic vineyard? While you visit your venue options it’s important to consider potential negatives as well as the positives. You should ask yourselves: Can guests get there easily? Will it be noisy or windy? Will it cost you a pretty penny to bring in everything you need, like a catering service or portable bathrooms? Will the public be able to walk near your event? While some of these concerns have simple solutions, others may not. In the end, choose a place that has the ambience you’re looking for, along with the convenience your guests will appreciate.
Our tip for you to embrace the full experience of your guests before you have your wedding is: Visit the venue at the exact time your wedding will take place – to figure out how busy the location is, how the weather holds, and if there is easy access for everyone.
We hate to plant a negative seed in your mind, but mother nature is uncontrollable. You should be open to the fact it could rain or there could be a hailstorm or bug infestation, OR it could be scorching hot! Although these things are unlikely to happen, it’s important to prepare for whatever happens, while hoping for the best. Your ideal outdoor wedding location needs to come with a plan B that you adore just as much. Perhaps have an indoor room on reserve in case bad weather or other unexpected events threaten your special day. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you could arrange for a marquee with roll-up sides, which in bad weather is the next best thing to being inside!
You have most probably chosen to get married outside so you can absorb all the beauty surrounding you. Haven’t you? If so, let mother nature guide your wedding theme. Look at the hues occurring organically in the setting – whether it be sea blue, garden green, or rustic beige; build your palette around them. Keeping the season in mind is also good, as it will largely dictate the colour and types of flowers available. Another great idea is to find a couple things around the venue you’ve chosen, and work on highlighting them for your wedding! For example, a clear-top tent to show off a starry sky, a ceremony arch overlooking a gorgeous vineyard, seashells for table decor to compliment a seashore, or terrariums made with moss and seedlings to tribute a woodland area!
If you’ve decided to get married on public property, you may need some kind of written permission. Some venues will require a site fee to hold an event on their property, while others simply need some specific paperwork. For a museum or historic site, you may also need an additional certificate of insurance in case of any damage. ANOTHER THING! Don’t forget about noise and liquor permits. You may not be able to play loud music or set off fireworks (…another permit to ask about too) after a certain time, and you might need permission to have open containers of alcohol on a given site. You should be welcome to ask your venue for assistance in applying for permits. Otherwise, you can contact your council’s parks department or other local government agencies to guarantee that you’re well prepared to say “I do.”
If you’ve decided to pick a spot that’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere (difficult accessibility), you may want to prepare to give guests a lift. Arrange for rental buses or vans to get them from hotels to your wedding location (this will also ensure they’ll have a safe way home). At the very least, you could suggest they prepare for an Uber to get them from A to B, or provide really helpful directions – you don’t want them arriving frustrated, flustered or late because of unmarked roads. Also, make sure your venue has a reasonably sized parking space too.
It will be your special day, the only day that’s ALL about you, but your family and friends have most likely put in a lot of effort to help you out. So take the opportunity and put in equal efforts to make sure they’re comfortable on the day. Will it be sunny and hot? Don’t let your guests melt—have ice-cold water at the ready, print your programs on fans or offer up those adorable little sun umbrellas for those who need shade. Will it be a bit chilly? Prepare your guests ahead of time so they come dressed accordingly, then perhaps provide extra blankets or hand-warmers, along with cups of something warm, like hot cocoa or a hot toddy. Maybe consider adding sunscreen and bug spray in a basket for outside if it’s too hot. If bathrooms aren’t available on-site, you might want to make arrangements for portable toilets (figure one porta-loo for every 20 people, so your guests can spend their evening on the dance floor and not in line for the loo).
If you’re planning to hold your ceremony in the grass or sand, make sure your guests are aware—no one wants a ruined pair of shoes. A considerate plan may be to make recommendations for their attire (choose seasonally appropriate fabrics that will keep your guests comfortable) based on the location and the temperature.
Considering the position of the sun’s rays will ensure that your photos during the ceremony will be at their finest! You’ll want to arrange your ceremony accordingly, so your photographer will be able to capture your most precious moments without difficulties. Without that blinding sun, your guests can witness your vows without squinting. Your venue of choice has likely hosted many weddings in the exact spot you will be in, so they can usually offer wise guidance. Another piece of advice, be sure to take advantage of the “golden hour” for portraits – when the lighting is said to be at its best.
Crashing waves are peaceful, but if you think about it, it may be a cause for concern. If the waves are fierce they may interrupt the delivery of those beautifully written vows. The best way to avoid this is to use lapel mics so guests feel they’re a part of the ceremony. Also, double-check that your band or DJ has enough power for their equipment; you don’t want to lose your lights or tunes in the middle of the wonderful night you’ve prepared!
When tying the knot outside during the evening, there’s a good chance you’ll need lighting. String some lights across the dance floor or hang lanterns in the trees to frame you during the ceremony. They will not only make it easier to see but also add a touch of romance and beauty.
Make sure your location is levelled and mowed prior to your ceremony. Clear any leaves that are in the way or any other obstructions that may cause trips and falls. Steps to busy areas, like bathrooms or parking lots, should ideally have handrails and walkways and be well lit (at night) for elderly guests.
Make sure your caterer has experience cooking and serving in an outdoor setting. Keep your menu choices in mind too – will guests want to scoff down a heavy dish, or will they be craving light bites? Don’t forget about the cake! Talk to your baker about how the weather will affect the cake, choose a cake that works outside. For instance, depending on the temperature and humidity, buttercream might be a bad idea!
If you’re providing guests with extras to use while they celebrate, like flip-flops to dance in, sunglasses to shade the sun or pashminas/blankets to cozy up, these can also be your favours. You could also send guests home with a souvenir (think: a coral bottle stopper or a small potted plant. Maybe a cute message in a bottle or a key chain or jewellery made from seashells!) It also never hurts to hand out edible favours either (think: cupcakes or snack bags filled with your’s and your partner’s favourite sweets.)