What’s not to love about al fresco weddings. Fresh air, a beautiful location. It’s a dream come true for a lot of couples and their wedding guests. But there are some things to remember when planning an outdoor wedding, so here are my top outdoor wedding ceremony tips:
Have A Bad Weather Plan
This is the most obvious one, so I’ll get this one out of the way first.
Whatever you are planning, make sure you’ve got a plan B in case of bad weather and brief you vendors and wedding party on how things will run should you need to make some last minute changes. Remember that bad weather might not just be if it’s raining but also if there are high winds as well. If you’ve got a back-up plan up your sleeves, you’ll be able to enjoy everything a lot more knowing that you’ve got everything covered.
Keep Your Guests Comfortable
What is the weather usually like in your location at that time of year? Just considering this in advance helps you plan for what you might need to keep yourselves and your guests happy throughout the day.
For summer weddings with very hot daytime temperatures, make sure everyone can get plenty of water and that there are some areas of shade, especially if you have children or elderly relatives in attendance. Some venues might recommend that you hire extra parasols to provide extra shaded areas if the venue is very exposed to the sun. Paper fans, parasols or sunglasses make great wedding favours for outdoor ceremonies in hot weather.
For winter weddings, make sure that guests can keep themselves warm. Fleece blankets, pashminas or hand warmers help keep guests warm during the ceremony, and celebrating afterwards with a warm drink instead of champagne will help everyone to warm up from the inside out.
Think About The Position Of The Sun During Your Ceremony
Whilst having a beautiful backdrop is great for an outdoor ceremony, having great light is just as important. For starters, light wasn’t made equal. Mid-day light is bright and hot. It casts dark shadows under the eyes, and it makes people squinty and sweaty (not the look most people aim to achieve). Two to three hours before sunset is perfect. The sun is getting lower in the sky and the light is becoming much warmer and more flattering. When you look at where to set up the ceremony, you have three main options:
- The light is shining from the side.
This is the least preferable option, as it means that when you are facing each other, one of you will be looking directly in to the sun and the other will have their face in shadow.
- The light is shining from behind your guests
I.e. The light is shining on the backs of the guests. This means that you will be slightly in the sun, and may need to squint a little, but you will be evenly lit.
- The light is shining from behind the celebrant.
This means it will be shining in the faces of your guests but will be even on you. This is my favourite option but whatever you choose, I’m the professional so I’ll work around it the best that I can.
On a further note, if you’re using trees for shade during your ceremony, make sure that you check if you will be standing in even shade. One of the worst situations for your pictures is when the light coming through the trees casts patches of light and shade. So it’s worth looking at the location at the same time of day to see where the sun will be and where the shadows will fall. Ideally you want the whole bridal party in an evenly shaded area.
This might seem like such a small thing, but think about what kind of ground there will be and inform all your guests about it in advance. If it’s grass, sand, snow or anything slightly uneven, you might want to advise guests on what footwear is appropriate. For locations on grass heel stoppers can be a good solution for stilettos, for beach weddings flat sandals are best and for snow, boots with a thick tread will reduce the risk of someone slipping over.
Unwanted, Blood Sucking Guests
I’m not talking about those distant family members who turn up uninvited and abuse the open bar, but rather the flying sort. In many locations across Europe mosquitoes come out in the evening, and I’ve been at weddings in Tuscany and the south of France where guests got covered in bites. There are lots of natural repellants you can get such as citronella candles or lavender but it’s usually worth having a few bottles of mosquito repellant handy too just in case you find them gatecrashing the party despite the natural repellants.
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