Top Tips for Planning a Fabulous Outdoor Wedding
Many couples dream of having an outdoor wedding. By choosing to say your ‘I do’s’ alfresco, you’re opening up your venue options and getting the opportunity to choose from stunning natural backdrops. No matter what your style, there are so many options to choose from!
From quaint woodland areas and fairytale castle grounds, to countryside gardens and rustic farmland. Planning an outdoor wedding without a professional planner isn’t for the faint-hearted. If you’re struggling to find the time to research venues or are just overwhelmed with what you’ll need to organise, then maybe it’s worth getting some help from a planner.
But if you’re going it alone, then here are my top tips and things you need to consider.
Whilst outdoor ceremonies provide a blank canvas to build your dream day, the often unpredictable weather in the UK is a big consideration for many couples. Think about the month and season you’d like to have your ceremony; outdoor winter weddings can be just as enjoyable as summer weddings with some careful planning (and some extra warm layers!)
If it’s going to be warm, make sure your guests are kept comfortable with parasols and access to soft drinks. Why not set up a drinks station with fruit infused water? If it’s set to be chilly, make sure there are plenty of blankets and shawls to go around. You can even hire outdoor heaters to keep everyone cosy.
And of course if you’re marrying in the UK you’re going to have to have a contingency plan for the rain. This may mean hiring a gazebo, marquee, tipi or choosing a venue that has a shelter to use as a back up plan. Then you can enjoy the best of the outdoors and indoors.
Be sure to do your research when choosing a photographer to ensure they can work in different lighting environments. Take a look at their portfolio and see if their specialisms suit your wedding plan.
It’s important to tell them that the venue will be outdoors for some or all of the day so they can plan ahead. The photographer may also want to visit the venue in advance to test the lighting conditions throughout the day.
Depending on where you want to get married, there are some laws to take into consideration. If you’re getting hitched in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can get married anywhere outdoors if the function is led by a religious official, registrar or non-religious humanist celebrant.
In England and Wales it’s a bit more complicated. All wedding ceremonies must be held in a permanent structure, big enough to accommodate at least two individuals. So this means that you two need to be under a permanent structure within a licensed venue. And the service has to be conducted by the local registrar.
Many venues now have a small structure, such as a bandstand or gazebo which is licensed for civil ceremonies. Your guests then enjoy the service from outside this structure.
Some couples also choose to hold an outdoor (non legal) ceremony with a celebrant and their guest. And will legalise their marriage in a registered premise either before or after their big celebration. This means you can hold your ceremony in a wider choice of places and you don’t need to have the permanent structure which is licensed.
Now for the fun bit, making the venue look the part! From essentials such as creating a beautiful aisle to lighting and decor, these special touches will make all the difference.
Fairy lights and string lighting can be an inexpensive way to bring an atmospheric vibe with minimal setup. Outdoor weddings tend to be more relaxed in terms of style, so you could consider choosing a mix of mismatched tables and dining chairs for the reception.
On top of an outdoor bar, why not make guests feel right at home with a quirky table dedicated to coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Mix and match your porcelain to add extra rustic charm.
If you’ll be dancing through to the small hours, add citronella candles for ambiance and to keep the bugs at bay. The best part is that the possibilities are endless if you have any wild or wonderful ideas you’d like to discuss just get in touch.
Looking for more tips?
Our friends at Sainsbury’s Bank have produced this useful guide to planning a wedding outside. Whether you’re dreaming of an intimate wedding or a grand outdoor event, I’d love to help you to make your day extra special. You can see more info on my wedding planning services here if you’ve realised you’re going to need some help to pull this off.