Thinking of an outdoor wedding? There are many factors to take into consideration if you are choosing a barn or nature type setting vs. a hotel or banquet hall location. From our experience, here are the questions you need to ask yourself before making the final decision.
1. What time of year do you want to get married? If you live in an area where there are four distinct seasons, weather can have a huge effect on your wedding day. April or May, and September or October weddings can see the greatest temperature fluctuations. Plan on renting heaters if you are considering an unheated barn or your guests will not stay long after dinner. Baskets of warm blankets are also an option you may want to consider.
Sidewalls on a tent, ready to be released and rolled down in case of rain, are a must. Take home umbrellas can be the wedding favor for the guests, especially in April or early May. Check out the My Wedding Favors or Gracious Bridal links on our sidebar for some useful favor ideas.
2. You may have to rent everything. Unless you choose a venue that has its own tents, tables, chairs, dishes, cutlery, porta johns, and kitchen equipment, plan on renting all of these items. Keep in mind it costs more to have an outdoor wedding because in essence, you are re-creating a hall. The things you take for granted when you are indoors (including bathrooms) are not always available when you celebrate outdoors. Barns are usually not large enough on their own to include space for dinner and dancing. Tents are usually a necessary supplement to a barn unless it’s very large.
3. You have to plan for the worst weather. No matter what, you have to live in reality. If you want a June through August wedding, you need to plan for the heat. Spring or fall, plan for rain and chilly temps. If you are getting married next to a pond with no shade and it’s hot, provide parasols for your guests or have them under a tent. Or, offer colorful hand held fans, with ceremony details on them. Keep the ceremony to a comfortable length and have a water or lemonade table nearby. Make a rain plan just in case and don’t be afraid to implement it if the weather looks threatening.
4. Think about the physically challenged. Your grandmother, grandfather and elderly aunt may need a ride down to the pond or location of your ceremony (some outdoor venues have golf carts for this purpose). If the cocktail reception is longer than a five minute walk from the ceremony location, that’s another ride to take into consideration. Make sure there is sturdy seating for the elderly (chairs with arms are best; wooden chairs are not great!) and recruit assistants to be on standby to help those who need it.
5. There could be more rules to follow. In general, barns are next to neighbors who go to bed early. It is likely you will have a 10 or 11pm end time on your event vs. a hotel that will let you end much later. Set up times may be shorter too so you may have to adjust your decor, depending on when you can get in and when everything must be taken down.
Outdoor weddings can be beautiful. Nature is the perfect backdrop. Ask a planner or coordinator to help you think of all the options when considering a wedding under the stars, or tap the expertise of your venue coordinator. This way you will be prepared and ready for any weather or situation.