There’s something magical about hosting an outdoor wedding and employing mother nature as your wedding venue. However, no matter where you hold your wedding outside, there are certain obstacles that come with outdoor weddings. Even the most picturesque days can come with their share of challenges. From ever-changing elements and uninvited guests (bugs) to tricky logistics and rentals, outdoor weddings require some extra planning. Here are 10 common outdoor wedding problems and how to solve every one.
The weather has and always will be unpredictable. Every season brings its own set of beauty and its own set of difficulties. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to try to get ahead of any weather problems.
Know your location. If you’re getting married close to home, you probably have a good idea of weather trends and how fast they may change. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, you know that it rarely rains. If your wedding in a location you’re not super familiar with, get to know the area. Use the Farmer’s Almanac to learn about how weather changes in that region and what elements are usually involved. You can even cross-check your wedding date. If you’re getting married at a wedding venue in Cleveland, Ohio or Syracuse, NY, for example, you may want to have a backup plan for snow.
Come prepared. Once you know what elements to expect (or what you could expect), you can formulate a plan and get ahead of the weather.
Every season is subject to a little rain every now and again. If your wedding date falls during a particularly rainy season or your wedding location is in a typically rainy area, here are some precautions to take.
Put a deposit down on a tent. Keep it stowed away and designate members of the venue staff to put it up if the weather turns. (They should practice this ahead of time.) Alternatively, look for venues with partial coverings for outdoor ceremonies if you need to make a quick switch and bring things more inside.
Cover the food. If you’re hosting an outdoor reception, it’s a good idea to keep that area covered with some kind of weather-proof structure. These can be completely open on all sides so they still achieve the outdoor feel. A tent, awning, or gazebo (if there’s one on the property) can keep catering dry.
Provide umbrellas. This goes for those weddings in areas especially prone to rain. Bulk order cheap umbrellas in your wedding colors and place them in buckets by the entrance of your ceremony. Craft a cute sign that says something like “Your eyes might not stay dry but at least you will” and allow guests to take an umbrella to stay dry throughout the night.
The wind has a way of shaking things up.
Secure any coverings. If you ordered tents or awnings for your ceremony or reception, make sure they are wind resistant (the vendor should be able to tell you this). The last thing you want is a tent pole letting loose and hurting any of your guests.
Weigh everything down. From decor elements like place cards and centerpieces to logistical elements like lights, make sure everything is either taped down or being otherwise weighed down to keep it in place.
Photo Credit // Sonia Savio Photography
Humidity or Excess Heat
Everyone wants sun on their outdoor wedding day. Too much of it, though, and your guests will be melting (and burning).
Plan around the sun’s peak hours. Between noon and 3 p.m., the sun is typically at it’s brightest and hottest. If you can start your ceremony before or right after, things may cool down even slightly.
Provide SPF. First of all, be sure to apply SPF ahead of your ceremony and, if you’re wearing makeup, make sure it contains SPF, too. Purchase small tubes of sunscreen and place them in bins close to the entrance of your ceremony for guests to grab and apply as needed throughout the day. Put any extra tubes in the bathrooms for guests to restock if necessary.
Keep guests cool. If you’re dealing with sun and humidity, you’ll want to double down on protection for guests. Similarly, provide paper fans to all guests as they enter the venue. If you want to get creative, you could even print your ceremony programs on the fans and have your greeters or ushers hand them out to everyone.
Stay hydrated. Make sure you provide small water bottles or large serving jugs of water close by the ceremony and reception. Add fruit to the mix for an upgrade to keep your guests hydrated and happy.
A Cold Front
It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re chilly. Don’t cool temps distract your wedding guests from your big day.
Cover your guests. As with other weather conditions, think of your guests and give them what they need to be comfortable. In this case, a light shawl will do. (If you think guests will need something warmer than that, you might want to consider planning an indoor ceremony instead). Drape them on the back of chairs or place them in baskets at the end of each pew or row for guests to grab.
Bring the heat. Again, this comes down to knowing the area. If the temperatures typically drop at night, come prepared with space heaters and ask early on if the venue can provide heat lamps for outdoor areas. You may also consider working with your venue to set up some kind of fire pit situation for guests to enjoy and keep warm by.
Serve warm drinks. If you’re hosting a fall or winter fête, work with your bartenders to create warm signature cocktails and mocktails for your reception (or even during your ceremony). Nothing tastes better than a Hot Toddy once the cold weather hits.
Dirt or Sand
For those memorable beach and backyard weddings, you and your guests may run into issues around unwanted dirt and sand.
Protect the dress. For brides wearing dresses with even slight trains, it’s wise to invest in a bridal petticoat. This will get that hem off the ground and keep it as clean as possible. Although, most wedding dresses end up with dirty hems so don’t fret too much about this.
Keep sand out of shoes. If you’re having a beach wedding, encourage guests to remove their shoes. Fortunately, they’ll know the location ahead of time and likely plan their shoe choice accordingly. You can opt to provide cheap sandals for guests to slip into for the ceremony and reception, too.
Consider a floor. Another option for outdoor weddings with questionable ground situations is simply applying a floor. You can rent temporary flooring in the form of wood planks or foam tiles that will keep you and your guests off the, well, ground.
No, we’re not talking about any distant relatives with bad blood. We’re talking bugs, birds, and anything else that might count as an unwanted guest.
Whether you’re getting married in the AM or PM, plan for bugs to act as plus-ones at any outdoor wedding.
Provide bug spray. Add small bottles of bug spray to your guests’ welcome bags.
Talk to the venue. Check with your wedding venue to see if they’ve recently exterminated the grounds.
Burn citronella candles or citronella oil. Incorporate these into your centerpieces for a decorative and functional element.
Pick the right flowers. Avoid picking out florals that attract bugs. Talk to your florist about finding flowers that work with your style and colors but keep bugs at bay. Marigolds, lavender, and petunias are all gorgeous options.
Birds can add unpleasant sounds, smells, and leave behind surprises if left unattended at your outdoor wedding. Plus, there’s nothing worse than a bird getting trapped in a tent or awning during a reception full of food.
When booking your venue, talk with the grounds or property to see how they recommend preventing bird encounters. Some places may suggest fake hawk statues or reflectors to posts in strategic locations.
If having your wedding in an outdoor location near a lot of foot traffic, don’t be surprised if you, your partner, and wedding guests are greeted by strangers. If you don’t have an issue with those watching, that’s great! Just make sure to block off entrances so that you’re not having wedding crashers barge in on your big night.
If you’re looking for more privacy, try investing or renting larger (and taller) plants to place around the venue.
Photo Credit // Zach Caddy
As mentioned, outdoor weddings can require extra equipment, which can cause extra issues.
Tents can be a costly addition to any wedding celebration. In addition to paying for the hefty fees, tents tend to come with their own set of complications if not handled correctly. If you’ve ever been to the beach on a windy day, you know what we’re talking about.
While some vendors will add an additional fee for installation, if yours doesn’t, we highly recommend going with a trusted service that provides one all-inclusive fee for tent installation. Now is not the time for you, your partner, your family, or your friends to figure out how to install a tent for dozens of people.
Also, be sure to measure the location you want to put the tent at your venue. Don’t eyeball it. You may end up with a tent that’s way too big for the space or too small for your guests.
What’s a party without proper lighting and a quality sound system? And what do both of these wedding essentials need? Outlets—a lot of them.
Long before you set anything up, do a walkthrough of the venue grounds with the owners and the lighting and sound vendors. Figure out early on exactly what electrical offerings they have any where you’ll need to add some extra support.
Lighting and sound vendors should be familiar with the extra lengths outdoor weddings can require, though. When you’re searching for your vendors, be sure to make it clear that you’re planning an outdoor wedding so they can add any extra preparation measures or equipment to your original contract and plan.
Whether you're looking for wedding venues in Salt Lake City, UT or San Diego, CA outdoor weddings are beautiful and common. Don’t be discouraged by the occasional challenge—simply be prepared. Your day will go off without a hitch!