Nature and love are two grounding forces as old as time. It only makes sense that some want to throw their grandest celebration of love—their wedding—with vines, sand, leaves, and sunshine coalescing as the perfect backdrop. Plus, where nature is involved, the number of themes and venues that spark imaginative weddings are countless.
Among the favorite nature-inspired wedding venues, there are those for the:
Below, you’ll find a quick guide to marrying in each of these atmospheres, including tips for the perfect nature-inspired venue, and some dos and don’ts for each locale.
Photo Credit // Elizabeth Greve Photography
A Woodsy Adventure
Surrounded by towering trees, exchanging vows deep in the forest—ignite your senses with a woodsy themed wedding destination. Here, you will be surrounded by Mother Nature in all her wondrous glory, reminding you that love grows over time.
Venues to Consider in the Forest
To find the perfect venue in the forest, you might need to think outside the box. As soon as you do, you’ll realize there are tons of options. Here are a few to get your imagination going:
- Renting a small summer camp for the weekend (easier in the spring or fall)
- Finding an old log cabin to rent out
- Securing a camping lodge that’s next to plenty of open outdoor space
If your guests don’t mind a little camping, you can ask guests to bring a tent and sleeping bag. This wedding could spark tales around the campfire—only these will be love stories, not ghost stories.
Dos and Don’ts of a Wedding in the Forest
Do Plan for everything. When it comes to nature wedding venues, you need to be prepared for all the different worst-case scenarios—especially when you’re far from main resources. Consider weather, generators, and what to do about animals photobombing your pictures.
Don’t Avoid over-decorating. If you’re far from the main camp—where guests will eat and sleep—consider how much time you’ll need to trek back and forth to set up all the perfect decorations. Remember, the benefit of a nature-inspired wedding is that many of your decorations were planted thousands of years ago.
Do Offer your guests a list of what to bring. Should younger guests and kids be prepared to camp? Does everybody need to bring rain ponchos, just in case? You’ll want to keep this list to a minimum and bring extra supplies for any forgetful guests, too.
Don’t Leave a roaring fire untended. While the smell of fresh burning wood and embers dancing in the air like fireflies is something magical to grace your wedding, a forest fire would be a sure disaster. Plan on delegating one member of the wedding party to supervise any bonfire.
A Beachy Themed “I do”
Sand, sandals, seashells, and the sound of crashing waves—just thinking about it might spread a smile across your lips. The beach wedding theme will remind you and your partner of the ebbs and flows of life and love.
Venues to Consider for the Beach
In terms of where to look for beach venues, it depends on what time of year and where.
Historic and classy beach vibes: Think the Atlantic Northeast or the Pacific Northwest in the summer.
Warm and sunny: From fall through spring, consider Southern California or Florida.
Tropical atmosphere: Hawaii or the Florida Keys are always worthy choices.
There are plenty of venue options for the beach. Consider:
- Oceanfront property
- Resort and spa
- Renting a boat
- End of a pier
Some of these venues might take a little finagling, but it’s worth it for your picturesque dream wedding.
Dos and Don’ts of a Outdoor Wedding on the Beach
Do Plan for privacy. Beaches are primarily public property, and while people are generally respectful of space for a beach wedding, you should be aware that you may have some onlookers. Do your best to set up a spot for privacy—perhaps a small area off the beaten path, away from the main entrance.
Don’t Forget about permits. Some beaches require a permit to have a large gathering of any kind—including a wedding—on the beach. This is especially true if you want to decorate the area and have a bonfire roaring through the night.
Do Consider different dress-up options for both parties. With the beach comes strong winds and hot days. If you or your partner were planning for big, elaborate dresses, long veils, or heavy tuxedos, this could quickly turn into a tangled, sweaty nightmare. When it comes to wardrobe, feel free to change it up and embrace the beach vibes.
Don’t Forget microphones. The natural sounds of the ocean can drown out (no pun intended) your wedding vows for the people in the back row. Be sure to bring microphones and a small speaker or prepare to project your voice.
A Monumental Moment in the Mountains
Fresh, crisp air. Gorgeous scenic views. Everything that you could hope for and want in a wedding photo will happen with a mountain-themed wedding. Remind yourself and your partner that love is an uphill climb (and that the top is worth the journey).
Venues to Consider in the Mountains
There are a few different beautiful venue options to choose from:
- Booking a mountain cabin
- Renting out a mountain lodge
- Securing a mountain camping space
Dos and Don’ts of a Mountain Wedding
Do Bring plenty of water and encourage guests to drink it. For altitudes above 5,000 feet, many people experience altitude sickness. The symptoms are not fun: headache, nausea, and dizziness. Unfortunately, all of these symptoms are exacerbated by dehydration—something to be aware of, especially if you plan on serving alcohol at the wedding reception.
Don’t Skrimp on bug spray, bug repellent candles, and other bug-distracting items. A large gathering is like a prepared feast for mosquitos. Bring out the bug repellent torches and set up high-powered LED bug lamps away from the main area. This is especially important at night.
Do Prepare vendors for the trek up into the mountains. Make sure that all the food and cooking supplies can make it up any winding paths. Do this weeks before the outdoor wedding ceremony takes place, just in case you need to make some last-minute changes.
Don’t Forget about the weather. A rainy day in the mountains can be closer to a winter snowstorm. Plan for slick pathways, snow, and any other worst-case scenarios if you plan on marrying in the mountains.
Warm tones, unique plant life, and incredible views can transform your wedding atmosphere into a desert oasis… of love. The vast, dry landscape is actually teeming with life just beneath the surface, reminding you that when it comes to decades of commitment and love, sometimes you have to look a little deeper within each other. Definitely a more unique wedding venue.
Photo Credit // J Lobbins Photography
Venues to Consider in the Desert
There are a few different ways you can go about choosing your desert wedding venue:
- Reserve a campground in one of the many state or national parks
- Choose an inn or spa on the edge of the desert
- Rent a desert golf course
Dos and Don’ts of a Desert Wedding
Do Pack plenty of water and sunscreen. If the sun is out, you can be sure it’s going to be hot and dry—it’s a desert after all. Be sure to keep your guests hydrated and protected from the sun.
Don’t Forget to give your guests a packing list. Outdoor wedding venues often come with surprises and guests are going to have varied expectations. Send your guests “what to bring” and “what will be provided” lists.
Do Consider different wedding attire. A beautiful wedding in the desert is the perfect time to experiment with aesthetics—and if it’s going to be hot, you and your partner will be happier in lighter garments. But don’t forget: As hot as deserts are at night, temperatures drop rapidly at night.
Don’t Forget about shade. Unless you want all of your photos to feature squinting faces, consider hauling out some pop-up tents. Alternatively, you can purchase or rent a large array of shade-providing umbrellas.
Keeping Your Wedding Naturally Magnificent
Nature-inspired outdoor wedding venues provide beautiful scenic views, natural decorations, and an ambiance that can’t be beat. Should you want to plan for everything under the sun (pun intended), consider partnering with Zola to create a free wedding website to keep your guests updated with all the need-to-know details of your outdoor wedding venue.
Our wedding planning experts are ready to assist you with whatever you need. Rain or shine, we guarantee you’ll have a magnificent, love-filled wedding day. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
For more resources on finding the perfect venue for your wedding ceremony, see the expert guides below from Zola:
- Questions to Ask When Touring a Wedding Venue
- How to Find an Affordable Wedding Venue
- Do You Have to Tip a Wedding Venue?