An outdoor spring wedding can be absolutely dreamy: saying your vows with a perfect sunset view, dancing underneath the stars, and letting the natural beauty of the landscape be the ultimate wedding décor. If you and your partner are planning an outdoor wedding, cover all of your bases by asking yourself these six questions.
1. Where Should You Have the Ceremony and Reception?
Just like planning for an indoor wedding, one of the first things you should do is think about where you picture your ceremony. If you’re lucky enough to live by the ocean, the beach might be an obvious choice for a spring ceremony. However, just because you’re landlocked doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy beautiful water views at a lake or a riverbank. You might also think about the garden of a bed and breakfast, a national forest, or even your parents’ backyard. When you start to plan the location, two of the most important things to keep in mind are lighting and accessibility for your guests.
2. How Will You Keep the Food Fresh?
If you have your outdoor ceremony in the garden of a bed and breakfast or at a beach resort, you may have a staff who is helping you with the preparation of the food, but if you’re going truly remote you’ll have to think of the logistics of keeping the food fresh. (You don’t want your guests to get sick, after all!) When you start to plan a menu, think about foods that will keep longer like salads, fruits, and finger sandwiches. If you’re planning to go with a caterer, consider choosing one that has a lot of experience with outdoor weddings, so you can ensure that they know exactly what temperature to keep the food and when to start packing it away. If you’re considering preparing the food yourself, be sure to bring lots of coolers and ice, and remember not to leave perishable food out too long.
3. How Will You Keep Your Guests Comfortable?
When you’re planning an outdoor wedding, there are lots of things to keep in mind in order to make sure your guests are completely comfortable and having a great time. The most important thing to have on hand at an outdoor wedding is plenty of bottled water for your guests. If you live in a warmer climate, be sure to provide your guests the ability to cool off, whether that’s a shaded area underneath a tent, a mister, or paper fans that you can hand out as favors. If you plan to go past sunset, also ensure that your guests can keep warm. Purchase some throw blankets in your wedding colors, have a bonfire (assuming the venue allows), or set up some heat lamps.
You also want to make sure that you have a place that guests can go to the bathroom. If you’re just using an outdoor space of a venue, they should be able to provide your guests with facilities. However, if you’re in a park or in a remote location you’ll need to rent some portable bathrooms for your guests. (Don’t worry! Portable bathrooms have come a long way, and some are actually quite luxurious if you’re willing to spend a little extra.)
4. What Are Your Back-Up Plans in Case of Inclement Weather?
Of course, preparing for an outdoor wedding always includes “What will we do if it rains?” No one wants to assume the worst, but spring weather is often unpredictable, so having a plan is crucial. If you’re renting an outdoor space from a venue, ask whether you’re allowed to use an indoor space just in case. If you’re planning a backyard celebration, will the inside of the home be large enough to host every guest? And if you’re going to be in a remote location or at a park, ensure that you rent a tent or have a pavilion that guests can duck under in case of showers. Though raining during an outdoor wedding isn’t ideal, the gray skies and dreary light will make for some great wedding pictures.
5. How Should You Decorate to Go Along With the Scenery?
When it comes to décor for outdoor weddings, less is often more. You don’t want to compete with the natural beauty of the scenery, and figuring out how to affix decorations is often quite challenging. At the very least you want to have plenty of lighting: think candles and a few string lights or lanterns. You also can’t go wrong with white tablecloths and simple vases with floral arrangements—you might even be able to pick some around the wedding venue yourself.
6. What Will You Use for a Dance Floor?
Though it’s certainly true that you can dance anywhere, guests in heels may not appreciate sinking into the ground while trying to bust a move. Many companies have dance floors available for rent, but this can often get quite pricey. If you’re the handy type, there are many articles on how to build your own dance floor out of 2x4s and plywood. You could also provide guests with flip flops or slippers if building or renting a dance floor is not going to be feasible. Place the shoes in a big basket by the makeshift dance floor—whether it’s the sand or the grass—before everyone cuts loose.