Outdoor Wedding Essentials

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An outdoor wedding ceremony in Bell Buckle with a couple exchanging vows inside a geometric floral arch, surrounded by seated guests and a bridal party standing under a tree canopy.

Whether an outdoor wedding has been plan all along or COVID has derailed your prior venue, there are a few essential elements to consider when moving your big day outside.

Consider the Weather

The biggest (and most unpredictable) element you’ll be dealing with during an outdoor wedding is the weather. In temperate climates like here in Nashville, weddings from May to September can be extremely hot, and from November to March, the weather can be cold and a little unreliable.

If your wedding date is during a time where extreme temperatures or inclement weather is common, consider providing fun but practical ceremony favors. Some thoughtful outdoor wedding favors are custom-made paper fans, fleece blankets, travel bug spray, clear umbrellas, or dollar flip-flops.

Don’t Overlook a Rain Plan

Rain and storms are the most unwelcome wedding crashers. (Even though rain on a wedding day is good luck!) Especially with an outdoor ceremony or reception, don’t allow yourself to move forward with your venue without understanding their rain plan procedures.

Some outdoor wedding venues offer indoor spaces and will move your ceremony inside if the weather looks like it will become inclement. This process (called “flipping the venue” or “flipping the space”) may come at an additional fee. Be sure to check with your venue before you sign the dotted line.

Outdoor weddings don’t always have an indoor option available, especially weddings at historical homes or parks. In these cases, the venue may offer or suggest a rented frame tent to keep you and your guests out of the rain. Tents will be an additional (sometimes expensive) cost but worth it to stay dry.

Check Outdoor Wedding Photo Locations

Great outdoor venues offer beautiful landscapes and natural photo spots. On your venue tour, ask your guide to point out where photographers normally go for family formals, couple photos and any other posed moments that are important to you. Make sure you like the look and variety of the photo spots. Ask where photographers go when it rains. Is there a covered area like a porch or awning where portraits can happen in case of a downpour? Your photographer will appreciate you asking, too!

Outdoor Wedding Amenities

Hosting a comfortable outdoor event can be a challenge. Inquire with your venue contact about additional amenities provided on the wedding day. These extra amenities may include outdoor bathrooms, fire pits, and outdoor space heaters. Even if there is a restroom nearby, consider the number of guests you expect and if the existing restroom will be enough.

Set the Mood with Lighting

One of the most overlooked elements of an outdoor wedding is lighting. Odds are that darkness may fall while you are partying on the dance floor. Make sure you provide ample light for guests to eat, mingle, and enjoy themselves. For outdoor spaces, this often looks like string lights or table candles, but you can make it fancy with a votive chandelier!

Prepare for Pests

Bugs and critters can be an issue no matter where you are outside. Bees, ants, wasps, and mosquitoes are all major concerns for any outdoor event. To avoid any unwelcome guests at your wedding, you can coordinate an exterminator to come and spray the area during the week before your wedding. This will greatly cut back on the number of bugs.

If an exterminator is over the budget, provide travel-sized bottles of all-natural bug spray and place citronella torches or candles around the wedding area. Here’s my favorite non-toxic repellant company.

Outdoor Wedding Planning Takeaways

Planning an outdoor wedding can be daunting. The outdoors produces so many unpredictable elements, which is the last thing you want on your wedding day.

  • First, consider the likely weather for the season and make decisions accordingly.
  • Don’t overlook a rain plan no matter what season you are in; wedding venues often have suggestions on inclement weather that works for their space.
  • Finally, be sure your guests are as comfortable as possible with any additional amenities, great lighting, and a bug-free space.


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