How do I plan the perfect outdoor wedding?
Outdoor weddings have become increasingly popular over the years, and it’s not hard to see why.
A beautifully decorated outdoor venue with the sun shining down, a gentle breeze and an idyllic setting makes for an unforgettable experience. The natural beauty of the outdoors can complement any wedding theme and add a touch of magic to the day.
However, before deciding to have an outdoor wedding, there are a few things to consider.
The Weather on Your Wedding Day
The weather is always a crucial factor in outdoor weddings. Even if you set a date during the summer months, there’s still a chance of rain or wind. To avoid any last-minute changes, always have a backup plan in case the weather does not cooperate. You could rent a tent or choose a venue with alternate indoor facilities that can accommodate your guests.
Your location is another important factor. Choose a beautiful and scenic outdoor location that will complement your wedding theme and décor. You could go for a beach wedding, a garden wedding, a vineyard wedding, or even a wedding in the woods. Just make sure the location is easily accessible for setting up your chairs, arbours and equipment, and don’t forget about how your guests are getting to the location (car, carparks or do you need to hire a bus to drop them all off) and how they are getting down to the ceremony area. If the terrain is uneven or difficult to navigate with lots of twists and turns it might be a good idea to hang direction signs or even hold the ceremony in a clearing and leave the bush setting for your photos.
A Council Permit or Trust permission will be required. Once you have found your ideal outdoor location, make sure you secure it as soon as you can to ensure you are not disappointed on the day. Public spaces such as parks, reserves and beaches need to be booked through your local council. Most councils have an online booking process, and it may surprise you that it could cost you as little as $110 to hire most council managed facilities. Contact the local council that services the space to enquire about the process, the price and length of time your permit will cover. (check out my article” Can I have my wedding outdoors in a park or a beach?” for further information about applying for a council permit).
National Park settings such as Frasers Beach, Bundeena or Cape Byron Lighthouse can generally be booked through NSW National Parks or the venue’s information center. A good rule of thumb is to contact the information center first as they will know exactly what is required for that specific location.
Decor and Seating
Decor and seating are very important elements to consider when planning an outdoor wedding. The whole idea is to create a memorable ceremony in a naturally beautiful environment, it is not about competing with nature, so keep your decorations simple and understated. Add natural elements like floral arrangements, fruit baskets, and potted plants to enhance the natural beauty of the surroundings. Think about natural elements for seating such as straw bales, wooden logs or bench seats that will give the ceremony area a rustic woody feeling while still offering your guests a little bit of comfort.
Clothing is extremely important. You do not want to be jumping over river rocks in stilettos or clambering down the side of a mountain in a silk dress with 5 meter train and vail. Think about the environment and the photo shoot plan as well as your comfort and the overall look you are going for before buying your outfits. You may really want that beautiful lace gown for the ceremony then change your beautiful shoes for joggers or cowboy boots for the photos. Don’t forget the bridesmaids and groomsmen! Choose outfits that complement the setting and shoes that can handle to ground conditions while still giving you the look you are after. There are thousands of wedding photos on the internet and social media, so why not type in “outdoor weddings” into the search bar to get some great ideas.
Lighting and Music
Lighting and music will also play a vital role in setting the right mood. Soft twinkly lights can add a romantic and magical touch especially at night, while soft music can set the right ambiance.
Great photos give you something tangible that will remind you of your wonderful magical day. It is important to let the photographer know that you are planning an outdoor wedding to ensure they are willing to travel and work in the environment. Before you book your photographer, spend some time in the local area to identify photo opportunities. Make a day of it, explore the ceremony space fully, wander around to find natural wonders such as waterfalls, striking trees, natural leafy canopies or escarpments. Discuss your ideas with your photographer to create a photography plan to capture unique, unforgettable photos.
Are you serving food there as well? If your ceremony area is also doubling as your reception venue, why not get creative with menu options and catering. This is your chance to create a unique and memorable menu for your outdoor wedding. Think about the foods that make you happy, what is possible in the setting and any restrictions like “no open flames” before you decide on what food to serve and how to serve it. How about savory BBQ dishes with seasonal salads and fresh seafood? Have you thought about a sit on the ground BoHo picnic, these can be beautifully decorated, fun and very communal so perfect for a small gathering. What about a sit-down candle and star lite long table?
For an absolutely unique food experience, why not consider hiring a food truck or bringing in a local caterer to add more variety to your menu. This also gives a festival feeling to your wedding and gets conversations started as people gather to decide on which food van to try first. This is a lot of fun.
If you can dream it, you can do it because your options are endless, some things just take a little more planning.
Key Points to Remember
● An outdoor wedding can be a beautiful and unforgettable experience for everyone involved
● Always remember to consider the weather and have a back-up option if possible
● Visit the location to get a good feel for the ceremony area, seating options and photo plans
● Make your booking early so you don’t miss out
● Consider light, fresh, location friendly décorations that allow the natural beauty of the area to shine
● Simple lighting can take your setting from naturally beautiful to simply stunning
● Food options and eating settings are only limited by your imagination and available facilities, get creative to give your guests a magical day they will never forget