24 Jan 2017
The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Dream Outdoor Wedding
Outdoor weddings in the UK can be tricky, due to the temperamental weather and the archaic rules and restrictions on where you can get married. Currently, the law says that you can marry at venues which have an additional outdoor licence – so think the grounds of a castle or a cute countryside barn.
However, in Europe and the rest of the world, you can get married pretty much anywhere, from a public park to your own back garden. Many resorts in other countries offer packages where you can get married on a beach, so if a destination wedding is an option for you, your choice of outdoor venues becomes much less restricted.
Potential outdoor wedding venues
- The beach – You’ll most likely go abroad for a beach wedding, so a resort wedding planner will take care of the details. Plus, you can turn the wedding into an extended holiday or honeymoon!
- Back garden – Sadly not allowed in the UK, but in the event that you have relatives in the USA or elsewhere, a back garden wedding is very intimate and personal, offers you the ultimate flexibility and is private. However, there are a lot of hidden costs such as hiring tableware, equipment and insurance.
- Park or public garden – A public park often has areas that are beautiful and well-maintained. As with the back garden, it’s not allowed in the UK but it is elsewhere in the world – some UK brides even opt to get married in Central Park, New York! You should be prepared for different usage fees and restrictions on your decorations/noise levels. It’s also not a very private option as anyone can walk by.
- Grounds of a building – Whether you choose a castle or a stately home, getting married in the grounds of a building offers you the best of both worlds. You can take advantage of a professional environment where details like chair covers and catering will be easily taken care of, whilst still enjoying the outdoor scenery.
- A barn – A barn is a beautiful setting for a rustic wedding. You can have your guests sit on hay bales throughout the ceremony, before dancing the night away to a traditional folk band. They are a great alternative to relying solely on the British weather too!
Wedding Guide Logistics
An outdoor wedding can take much more planning than a normal wedding, but don’t let that put you off when planning your wedding! Here are some of the logistics that you’ll need to consider:
- Check any rules and permits ahead of time – your venue may require a noise curfew or the area could be surrounded by wildlife which is protected.
- Work out where the sun will be throughout the day and arrange your seating and photos around this. You don’t want your guests squinting at the sun!
- You will need a plan B in case the weather takes a turn for the worst. This is essentially like planning a second wedding, but indoors.
- Consider the parking – where will everyone park? For weddings in the grounds of a building, this won’t be a problem, but a countryside barn may be slightly more restrictive.
- Audio equipment – For larger weddings outdoors, your guests may struggle to hear you. You can counteract this by hiring clip microphones.
- Windproof any decor – The last thing you want on your big day is to see the centrepiece that you spent hours working on flying across the floor!
- Visit your venue at the time of day that you plan to have the wedding – this will help you decide what you need to prepare for.
- Advise your guests that it is an outdoor wedding when you send out your invitations – if they need suitable footwear/clothing, they will be grateful that you let them know!
Tips For Decorating An Outdoor Wedding
If the wedding uses outdoor seating (and it should if the ceremony is longer than 10 minutes!) the chances are that it might not be very comfy. You can make the seating more comfortable by putting pillows on it. Our wedding tips are:
- If your wedding is in summer, why not put your wedding’s order of service on a fan?
- Mist your flowers with a spray bottle of water if it is hot.
- For alternative seating, cover bales of hay with fabric.
- Wrap trees with string fairy lights and photos to create a personalised touch.
- Use cupcake wrappers to keep flies out of drinks!
- Don’t forget about lighting – no one wants a wedding in the dark! Think solar lights, tea lights hanging from trees, fairy lights and paper lanterns.
- Pick a focal point of the area where people can gather. At a house party, it’s the kitchen. At your wedding, it could be a gazebo or tent.
Tips To Keep Your Guests Happy At An Outdoor Wedding
- Make sure your guests are comfortable. At an outdoor wedding, they may need fans, heating or drinks to keep them cool.
- You could provide a personalised welcome tote bag with sunglasses, water and SPF. Seems unlikely that you would need such drastic measures in the UK, but better to be safe than sorry!
- If the wedding is on grass, provide heel covers for the female guests. They’ll be grateful if they are wearing stilettos!
- Don’t forget to provide weather-related accessories for the bridal party – umbrellas, jackets etc. They won’t be able to carry it themselves. Equally, in hot weather, you might consider having an area where they can refresh themselves with deodorant and fix their makeup if it has ran in the heat – again, unlikely in the UK!
The Pros Of An Outdoor Wedding
- The natural landscape makes a stunning setting for photos.
- Outdoor weddings are highly customisable, from your decor to your catering – use event management companies for this.
- Your guests will remember a unique day.
- If you hire a tent, you can dress it to your liking with lighting and decor, which you can’t always do with an indoor venue.
- If you’re planning to have a lot of guests, an outdoor wedding gives you plenty of room to breathe.
The Cons Of An Outdoor Wedding
- Weather can be unpredictable and rain that you haven’t prepared for can ruin your big day. You’ll need a Plan B that is well thought through and you’ll need to be happy with it!
- You need to prepare for changes in temperature throughout the day – hot midday sun and cooler nights.
- You will need to protect food/drink from insects and be vigilant of anything that is sat in the sun.
- Sound – it can be difficult for guests to hear what is going on outside so ensure you prepare for this with audio equipment.
- Availability- You might find that an outdoor location is in high demand and booked up for months! Of course, this is also a risk with indoor weddings.
Leila Jones is a content writer for First Lighting. She is a Public Relations graduate from Sheffield Hallam University. Leila enjoys social media, blogging and travelling. She loves weddings and is looking forward to being a bridesmaid later this year.