Many people dream of having an outdoor wedding. There’s just something special about being close to nature, with fresh air blowing in our hair, and having the sun (hopefully) shining on us. It makes us feel happier, more romantic, and more free-spirited. It’s no wonder that outdoor weddings are becoming increasingly more popular.
Whether your ideal outdoor wedding venue is the British seaside, a tropical beach, the woods, a blooming meadow or a romantic waterfall, outdoor wedding planning requires a bit more thought and strategising than indoor ceremonies. You’ll need to put some thought into dealing with the weather and the elements, and might need to give your guests some extra details, too.
Here are 9 handy tips and tricks to make sure your dream outdoor wedding goes off without a hitch!
1. Consider Legalities
The first thing that many people wonder is - can you legally get married outside? Doesn’t a wedding have to take place in a church, or registry office? Well, it all depends on the country you are marrying in. If you’re in England, you can only get married at a licensed venue that has some sort of fixed roof. It could be something as simple as a veranda or bandstand, but it has to be a fixed roof.
However, don’t panic: although you may not be able to be officially married in a fully outdoor setting, you can celebrate your nuptials wherever you’d like. For example, you could conduct the legal wedding ceremony in a registry office, and then move to the beach for the remainder of your wedding day.
You could even get “officially” married on a different day, and then have a second ceremony outdoors at a later date – this won’t be the legal ceremony, but you can still read your own vows and celebrate in your own unique way.
2. Be Mindful of the Time of Year
If you’re based in the UK then you’ll know that in this country, we can experience all four seasons in one day. The weather in Britain is unpredictable and unreliable, regardless of the season!
Obviously, summer is the best season for an outdoor wedding, but lovely warm weather can’t be guaranteed, even in the middle of August! If you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding, make sure to think about the possibility of rain, wind, sleet, or even snow. Make sure you have a backup plan in the case of any of this - something we’ll talk more about later.
Before booking your wedding, we’d advise looking up historical weather reports for the part of the country in which you plan to tie the knot. Choose the month with the least rain or the most sunshine, depending on your priorities (they’re not always the same).
3. Ensure Access to Shelter
Once you’ve taken the time of year into consideration, you’ll realise that you need a plan B, in the event of any less than ideal weather conditions. Even if the weather forecast is predicting nothing but blue skies, can you really ever trust the weather man? (No, you can’t.) Having some form of shelter is definitely advisable.
Some outdoor wedding venues do offer marquees as part of their package - but if not, there are plenty of companies out there that you can hire a marquee from for a day or two. Even if the weather stays nice, your guests may be appreciative of somewhere to relax in the shade and cool off a little.
4. Provide Umbrellas
If it’s going to be wet, or the threat of rain looms over your day, having plenty of umbrellas is not only an excellent idea, but more or less an essential. You don’t want to spend time and money on your hair, make-up, and wedding dress, just to end up looking like a drowned rat by the time you say your “I dos”.
Bridal white umbrellas look excellent at a wedding – they’re in keeping with the theme without being too distracting. In fact, if you’re getting married in white, a white umbrella just adds another element of coordination to your ensemble, and will contribute to the aesthetic of your big day. If you provide umbrellas for all of your guests, too, your photographer will be able to get some great coordinated shots of everybody clutching or twirling their matching brollies!
5. Forewarn Your Guests
When inviting guests to an outdoor wedding, you definitely need to let them know where the wedding will be held. Make sure to state on your invites, or in person, exactly which parts of your wedding will be outside. This will allow them to plan their outfits accordingly, and they can’t blame you if they wear inappropriate footwear!
Use a wedding note card to include extra information about what type of footwear and/or outerwear would be appropriate. For example, if rain is forecast, warn guests to bring a poncho or rain hat. If it’s due to be windy and cold, recommend everyone bring a coat. And make sure to warn the ladies not to wear stiletto heels, which may sink in sand or mud!
Your wedding invitations themselves can also give guests a hint of what’s to come. If you’re getting married on the beach, for example, this romantic Beach wedding invitation would be perfect. For a field or meadow situation, this quirky Wed Fest design would fit the bill.
6. Throw Tradition out the Window
If you’re opting for an outdoor wedding, chances are you’re not a fan of tradition anyway. But if you’re getting hitched outside, a traditional wedding breakfast can just become more of a hassle than anything else. The wedding breakfast usually involves a sit down meal, usually three or more courses.
If you want an outdoor wedding, then consider switching the menu to something more outdoor friendly. Things like buffets, hog roasts and barbecues are all incredibly popular choices for outdoor events. This is because they can be more easily eaten standing up, and cooking/cleanup is generally kept to a minimum. “Help yourself” wedding food also creates a more casual atmosphere which fits better with the outdoor theme.
7. Think About Your Décor
You may know exactly what kind of wedding you want, or you might still be deciding - every person planning a wedding is different. But one thing that’s crucial to consider when planning an outdoor ‘do is the decorations. You might want the natural beauty all around you to be your décor, but some people still prefer to add some personal touches.
Whatever you decide, you should make sure that it’s personal to you and in keeping with the theme for the rest of the wedding. Other things to consider are whether the decorations you have in mind will hold up against the elements, aren’t going to hurt or harm wildlife and nature, and can be easily cleaned up afterwards.
Many people choosing to have an outdoor wedding like to use nature as their inspiration, with lots of natural woods, stones, flowers, animals all around them. This is often chosen because it’s easy to fit in to your surroundings, and is readily available!
8. Plan for Nature to Call
It’s easy to forget in all the excitement of wedding planning, but you’ll need to use the loo at some point during the day – and so will your guests. Obviously there are no public toilets out in nature, and unless you’re close to a place that will allow you to use their toilets, it’s looking like the woods is your best option.
Unless you hire some porta-loos or outdoor toilets, that is. We know this sounds gross - porta-loos conjure up images of disgusting festivals – but this isn’t always the case. There are companies who specialise in high-end portable toilets, so your whole wedding will feel glam, even while in the heart of nature. (And remember, you can always set up these toilets a decent distance away from where you’ll actually be celebrating, so they don’t spoil your photoshoot.)
9. Embrace Informality
An outdoor wedding isn’t traditional, so why try to make everything traditional fit into it? Embrace the different and the informal. It’s your chance to have a truly unique wedding that suits you and your partner, without having to adhere to any guidelines.
The best thing about getting married outdoors is that you are basically making it up as you go along. This is perfect for people who want something different, or off the wall. The dress code can be whatever you want it to, the seating plan can be flexible and the dance floor can be wherever you want! This is your chance to think outside the box and come up with a truly unique wedding celebration that all of your guests will love.