Rows of white chairs with blue ribbons flank a petal-strewn aisle, leading to a decorated arch in a lush garden setting, ready for a wedding ceremony.

Outdoor weddings can really show your and your partner’s personalities, especially if you are an outdoorsy couple. If you love to hike and camp together, having your wedding amongst a lot of trees and foliage just makes sense. If the beach is your favorite vacation destination—no matter the season—why not opt for a beach wedding instead of something inside?

Your wedding day is just that—your wedding day. If you and your partner (and your guests) would enjoy being outside for approximately 5 hours for your wedding day, an outdoor venue is perfect for you!

There are so many pros to planning an outdoor wedding (hello, beautiful foliage and scenery!). There are also plenty of things to take into consideration that you normally wouldn’t even have to think about for an indoor ceremony. Keep reading for an outdoor wedding planning checklist, including things that may have slipped your mind!

First things first: prepare your guests for an outdoor event—allow them to dress appropriately and prepare for the weather. State it clearly on your invitation if any part, or all of your ceremony, will be outdoors.

Plan for inclement weather.—allow them to dress appropriately and prepare for the weather. State it clearly on your invitation if any part, or all of your ceremony, will be outdoors.

Rain: Choose a venue with ample outdoor and indoor space so you can switch gears in the days leading up to your wedding if need be. Many venues offer both indoor and outdoor spaces for you to hold your event. When you are touring venues, make sure you can envision your wedding day in either setup: it’s easy to get lost in the details, but the most important thing is that you are marrying your partner! Ensure the venue is what you want, outdoors or indoors, and everything else will fall into place.
Another option is renting a tent with walls. If the forecast is clear and you can cancel, you might take a hit on your deposit, but your peace of mind is priceless. If the forecast looks bad leading up to your wedding day, check with your venue to see if you can set up your tent early to keep the ground dry. This way, you will still have the unique feel of being outside without the risk of your guests getting drenched before you say, “I do.”

Plan for it to heat up or cool down: If you’re planning an outdoor July wedding, odds are you know it’s going to be hot. Plan for the heat by offering tents to gather under, hats for your guests to wear and fans so they can keep cool during the ceremony. On the other hand, if you get married in spring or fall, there’s a chance for the day to be chilly. Offer blankets or pashminas for guests to use during the ceremony, and set up space heaters in your tent.

Offer some form of shade for your guests. —The sun can be overbearing, no matter the season. Have umbrellas over dining and gathering spaces, and even offer parasols for guests to use during the ceremony. Pretty much anything you can do to keep your guests as comfortable as possible!

Keep your guests hydrated. —Especially if it’s supposed to be hot, you want to make sure your guests can enjoy the day without the risk of getting sick from dehydration. Offer a variety of (non-alcoholic) drinks to keep your guests cool: plain water, fruit-enhanced water, lemonade and iced tea are all great options to keep your guests hydrated and happy throughout the day.
Plan for unexpected costs. —Inside, you don’t have to think about things like having to power your lights—your venue already has electricity. If your venue offers outdoor electricity hookups, great! Not all do, though, so this is something you need to confirm when initially touring venues. If your venue does not offer this, you need to reserve generators for your caterer’s appliances (and lighting if you have an evening wedding) and amps and speakers for your band or DJ. No matter the season, you will likely need fans, air conditioning or heaters on-site—temperatures can drop 20 degrees after sunset! Have an electrician survey your venue and setup to know the exact amount of power you need.
Make sure you have easily accessible restrooms. —If your venue allows you to use their indoor facilities, make sure they are easily accessible for guests. If not, never fear, for gone are the days of ugly porta-potties! There are plenty of companies that offer nice, portable restrooms that will not detract from the look of your day, complete with granite countertops and other details to match your event.

No matter if you choose an indoor or outdoor wedding, there is a lot to plan. Don’t let the logistics of planning an outdoor ceremony or reception detract from your dream wedding day! Take it all in, relax and enjoy your day getting to marry your partner! 

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