I remember our wedding day four and half years ago. I always dreamed of saying my vows outdoors. The outdoors has been my sanctuary ever since I can remember; it is where I feel closest to God and the most at peace. When we got engaged, we talked about an October wedding. The air would be crisp. We’d find a winery in North Georgia.
Well, we started planning…not just our wedding, but our living situation and jobs over the next year, too! We moved the wedding up to July. It made sense to get married in the summer and start our lease in August. So, instead of crisp and cool–it would be straight up hot. A winery wedding was not happening in my budget. It would be in Athens, Georgia, where we lived. It was nothing that I at first imagined, but I was not giving up my outdoor wedding. If you have the same vision, you understand.
First, if you’re going to have an outdoor ceremony, just accept that some people are going to be uncomfortable and complain. They’ll tell you it is too hot, too cold, too buggy, too long. They’ll tell you that your wedding was the hottest wedding they’ve been to. Just decide you aren’t going to be annoyed about it. You have to do what works for your schedules, your budget, and your families–and you’re just doing the best you can!
You can’t make everyone happy, but you can do a few things to help them enjoy your outdoor ceremony.
1. Your ceremony should last no longer than 30 minutes outside.
2. Create a backup plan for inclement weather. Sometimes, it’s not worth it to have your wedding outside if it is pouring rain, absolutely freezing, etc. You need a back up!
3. You should just know that you are going to have bugs crawling all up in your dress. (Critters especially love tulle!)
4. Make sure your loved ones can hear your music and vows. A sound system is essential, or no one can celebrate your marriage with you in your outdoor sanctuary.
5. Do your best to prepare guests for the weather on your website with what they wear on their bodies and feet.
6. Move guests inside after immediately after cocktail hour if it ends up being outside, as well. Schedule your photo list with your photographer so cocktail hour can move quickly.
7. Hire a coordinator to help you make decisions that are best for both you and your guests and take the stress off.
If you’re expecting the cold… PREPARE for the cold.
1. Consider laying quilts over your chairs for guests who might get chilly.
2. Offer hot chocolate or cider prior to the ceremony.
3. Have a basket with shawls or blankets available.
4. Rent heaters if possible, at least for a waiting area if you don’t want them for the ceremony.
5. Don’t put your bridesmaids in sleeveless or short dresses–just don’t. They’re your closest friends and family members, treat them kindly!
6. Have cocktail hour inside or at least, have some inside space available (like a lobby). Rent heaters to keep guests comfortable and cared for. Choose appetizers like soup shots and grilled cheese (things that warm your body up!).
7. Consider having a fire! Make it memorable with special treats and comfy decor.
If you’re expecting the heat… PREPARE for the heat.
1. Make sure you have programs for guests to fan themselves.
2. Consider only shaded areas and make sure they stay will stay shaded at the ceremony time.
3. Ask your photographer how late the ceremony can be to still have great light for photos afterwards. You can push your outdoor ceremony to be a little later in late summer months to help the summer heat.
4. Choose lightweight fabrics for the wedding party to wear.
5. Have an ice water station available from your caterer. (We’re privy to a champagne welcome too!)
6. Try to have cocktail hour inside or some inside space available (like a lobby). If moving guests inside is not happening, rent fans. Make sure appetizers are cold and refreshing. Ask your caterer if you should hire an additional bartender to make sure guests get a drink quickly.
7. Place waters on the guest tables inside (if you have one seat per guest). Otherwise, have a self serve station available at your reception.
Bonus Tip: After your outdoor ceremony, we would recommend choosing an indoor location for your reception unless your budget allows for a heated or air conditioned tent. Getting married in a mild weather month? Fans should work just fine, but always prepare for rain.
What other ideas do you have about outdoor ceremonies?