5 Tips for Smooth Sailing Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies

Glynwood Farms Wedding AltarWho can resist a beautiful view of the river, the ocean, gardens, or mountains—you name it—for a spring, summer or fall wedding! It’s summertime and most of my wedding ceremonies are outdoors to make the most of the locales. Setting up a wedding in an outdoor location can go smoothly even if there are lots of Mother Nature’s issues to deal with. Here are 5 tips for smooth sailing (hmm, a wedding on a boat would be nice) of your outdoor wedding ceremony or other big outdoor events.

  1. Plan an indoor back-up. This sounds like an obvious but even if the weather ends up being just right, having a ceremony back-up plan will calm your nerves. Most wedding venues have a space inside just for this reason so check it out and get comfortable with the arrangement as a “just-in-case” back-up scenario. A big outdoor tent is one way to have it outside while being protected so if that is an option, go for it! Maybe you intended to use a tent only for the reception. Why not have a back-up plan to have the ceremony on the dance floor (you have a dance floor, right?). Any plan will work out perfectly—just have one!
  2. Plan for bugs. Bugs want to party too so set out bug sprays for your guests to help fend off any critters that bite. Try burning some citronella candles at the perimeter of your event. A great trick that I used at my 25th wedding anniversary party was strategic placement of large fans. Fans keep the air flowing and discourage bugs. It really works—we use a fan on our patio all the time!
  3. Plan for sun. Check out your ceremony location at the exact time of day that your ceremony will take place to determine where the sun will be. You want to be able to read your vows and look at the guests without having to squint your eyes. Consider where you and the officiant will stand to minimize glare. Have lots of varieties of sunscreen and sun hats on hand for your guests. Maybe have some pretty paper sun parasols as practical decorative elements.
  4. Plan for heat. It can be really hot at outdoor weddings, so plan your clothes and your wedding party’s outfits accordingly. Consider the weight and the color of the materials that you select for your attire. There are wonderful options for lightweight and light-colored cotton and linen dresses and suits that will still look polished and even formal if you like. I did a summer wedding last year where everyone wore light blue and white seersucker—it was charming! Try vests instead of jackets and consider shorter length gowns. Remind guests that it will be hot so that they can plan too. You can even let them know that the attire is garden-party themed. And don’t forget to have cold water, other non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of ice available to keep everyone well hydrated.
  5. Plan for wind. Mother Nature loves to create drafts at just the most important moments. I did a wedding a few weeks ago where the maid of honor lovingly moved a piece of my hair that had gotten blown into my mouth just as I was beginning the ceremony welcome. I could have prevented that by using more hairspray. So be sure to tell your stylist that the wedding is outdoors so that he or she can make sure that you and all the wedding party’s hair is ready for windy weather. Wind can also make it more difficult to hear the ceremony. Talk to your DJ or musician and get microphones for the officiant and for you and your love so that everyone will be able to hear your heartfelt vows even on a windy day.

Covered Outdoor Ceremony at Hollowbrook Golf ClubAnd remember that whatever the weather decides to dish up on your big day, you and your family and friends will have wonderful memories. Your wedding day will be perfect because it is all about you and your love.

Tell us about your outdoor wedding ceremony. We’d love to hear from you!

XOXO Rachel

Published by Rachel Mueller-Lust

I'm a writer, executive & life coach, wedding officiant & Life-Cycle Celebrant®, psychologist, media researcher and teacher. I explore language, relationship & connection, living a fulfilling life and the beauty & wonder of the world.

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