An outdoor wedding can be amazing, but if you aren't careful, your dream wedding could quickly become a nightmare. Fortunately, with the proper planning, you can be sure no outdoor catastrophes will dampen your special day.
Coordinate With Mother Nature
One of the best things about an outdoor wedding is the sweeping vistas that make amazing natural backdrops. From colorful, blooming spring gardens and lush, vibrant summer lawns to crisp, jewel-toned autumn foliage and wondrous winter snowscapes, outdoor weddings can be stunning visual affairs. It is essential that you coordinate with that natural beauty to take advantage of those vistas and make your wedding truly memorable.
- Choose Colors to Match
When planning your outdoor wedding, choose appropriate colors to match the natural seasonal flair all around you. Soft pastels are ideal for a spring palette, while bolder, primary shades are more suited for summer. Jewel tones and darker shades are perfect for fall, while cool shades and sparkling metallics are lovely winter colors. From your bridesmaid dresses to your table linens, coordinating seasonal colors will help you create a stunning event well-matched to the natural beauty of the season.
- Coordinate Fabrics
The fabrics you choose for rental linens, bridal party attire and decorative accents should also coordinate naturally with the season. Sheer, light fabrics such as tulle and organza are the best options for spring and summer weddings, while heavier brocades are stunning for a fall affair. Velvets and even fur trim can be stunning for a winter wedding. Consider appropriate fabrics for chair covers or bows, aisle runners, table runners, tablecloths, napkins and more.
- Keep the Views in Mind
When planning your outdoor wedding, keep the natural views of your location in mind as you arrange seating, position the dance floor and consider where the ceremony will be held. If your location offers a sweeping view of a valley that will be draped in fall foliage, for example, you don't want that valley behind your guests' backs or otherwise out of view for photos. Try to position every point of your wedding, including cutting the cake, your first dance and other key moments, to showcase the beauty of your outdoor location.
Keep Your Guests Comfortable
You will undoubtedly be too excited, nervous and busy to take much note of small things that might otherwise be uncomfortable on your wedding day, such as slightly uncomfortable temperatures, a stiff breeze or even a small shower. Your guests, however, may feel these discomforts much more, and uncomfortable guests may decide to leave your outdoor wedding sooner than you'd anticipated, cutting short your happy celebration. If you keep your guests' comfort in mind and plan accordingly, you won't need to adjust the schedule to accommodate a dwindling crowd.
- Consider renting a tent to provide shade and shelter for any unpredictable outdoor weather. Tents with sides can also serve as windbreaks if necessary, or the sides of the tent can be drawn up into graceful drapes if they aren't needed.
- Mind the time of day for your event, and take the sun's position and outdoor temperatures into account with your plans. Evening temperatures and light positions can be dramatically different than those at midday.
- Consider renting fans or misters for a summer wedding or if temperatures may be high in early fall or late spring. For a winter wedding, portable heaters can be a great option to keep your guests comfortable while still enjoying an outdoor ambience.
- Be ready to offer umbrellas or personal fans in case of unpredictable weather if needed.
Watch Your Footing
Your wedding day is a big step in your life, and you don't want to be tripping throughout the day because of poor footing caused by icy paths, soggy lawns, muddy areas or other ground-level problems. Your guests can also have trouble with their footing, but there are easy ways to keep everyone sure-footed no matter what the season or weather.
- Rent mats or runners as needed to provide safe pathways, including mats for stairs, entryways and the aisle if necessary.
- Consider renting a dance floor to ensure a smooth, level, safe surface for your first dance and other reception dancing.
- Mark pathways clearly throughout your event, including entrances, parking areas and how to reach restrooms so guests aren't wandering into potentially hazardous areas.
- Warn your guests about possible walking difficulties, such as noting if there may be slippery, uneven or wet paths, so they can choose their own footwear accordingly.
Taste the Season
A great way to make your outdoor wedding a dream come true is to taste the season with every bite at your reception, from canapés and appetizers to dinner and cake. Each season is filled with delicious foods, and opting for fresh, seasonal flavors in your menu can even help trim your wedding budget. Popular options include fresh fruits, cherries, berries and baby greens as part of spring menus, while citrus tastes, barbecue and grilled fish menu items are more suitable for summer fare. Autumn menus are delicious with soups and flavors that include apple, pumpkin, squash and a range of savory spices. Winter menus get a spark from peppermint and eggnog flavors, and heartier stews and roasts are ideal for cold-weather weddings.
Most importantly, no matter what season you plan your outdoor wedding, you need to be prepared with an indoor alternative. Bright, wide windows and seasonal planning can still bring a sense of nature's beauty to an indoor venue to make your outdoor wedding a dream come true, even if Mother Nature isn't so cooperative on your wedding day.