Top 10 Tips for Your Dream Outdoor Wedding
Summer wedding season is quickly coming up, are you ready? If you haven't ironed out your plans, we can help. Of course, we don’t consider summer to be the only season for dream outdoor weddings. There’s something unbelievably romantic about vows said under frosty stars, wedding party and guests warmed by love… and some very inventive tenting and clever accessories!
Our point is this: no matter what the season, Avalon Event Rentals can help you have your dream wedding outdoors. Start planning now for next summer, or pull together your dream outdoor wedding right now or even this coming winter. Whatever you do, though, make sure you follow our top 10 tips for outdoor weddings to make sure it is a dream and not a logistical nightmare!
1. Raise a roof
Tent it! No matter what Mother Nature plans on throwing at you, how big or small your wedding, or where you plan on setting up, Avalon has a tent (and team) that can handle it. A tent provides shelter - from sun, storm and snoopy strangers! (Everybody loves a wedding but you really don’t need complete strangers peering in on your most private, treasured moments.) What’s more, the selection available runs the gamut from tiny tents just for two, to gorgeous gabled affairs, big enough to host your entire town (including your Great Aunt Millie’s seventh cousin twice removed - trust us, it happens).
Bonus tip: Include tent liners in your budget - they create the kind of romantic atmosphere even the most hardened of cynics will find hard to resist.
2. Easy access
A remote sandy beach or forested cove may be romantic perfection, but nearly impossible to get to (especially for the aforementioned Great Aunt Millie). You do need to consider both your suppliers and your guests in terms of access to your wedding venue. Caterers, florists, and other vendors will need easy passage. If the site is walk-in only, where will guests park? And what about elderly or disabled guests? How will they manage the terrain? You can still opt for the remote site, but then consider installing temporary walkways and hiring some form of transportation for those who may find the walk, however short, tricky.
Bonus tip: Don't forget to contact your city parks department or other local government to get a permit for an outdoor wedding. Be sure to ask about all rules associated with the space, such as lighting, noise, curfew, set-up and take-down hours etc.
3. Temperature control
“Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you.” (Yes, we just quoted Crowded House.) There’s just no escaping the fact that with an outdoor wedding you have to plan for some form of weather. In summer, plan for heat. In winter, cold. And everything in between. Whatever the season, or weather, it’s important to make sure your guests - and you, yourselves - are comfortable.
Keep your cool: If it’s hot, rent A/C units or high-quality, portable fans (spend a bit more for fans that are silent). Provide shade - tents with open sides provide much needed shade without sacrificing summer views and through-breezes; send waiters around with ice-cold water, even during the ceremony; provide guests with sunscreen; you could even consider printing your wedding program on individual handheld fans.
Bonus tip: Rent a snow cone machine for a quirky, guaranteed-to-please addition to your menu and decor.
Heat things up: If it’s cold, go with a walled tent with weighted sides; rent portable outdoor heating units; and think about providing gorgeous, fluffy, extra-warm lap blankets for all guests. You may also want to remind guests to layer up when you send your invitations out - sparkly formal without a couple of extra layers wear does not make for a comfortable winter wedding!
Bonus tip: Let the magical winter starlight in, but keep the cold out, with a clear top tent.
4. Floor it
You may be tempted to dance the night away under the stars on that sandy beach, grassy knoll, or slatted deck, but we highly recommend you install a dance floor. Because what’s an outdoor wedding reception without a dance floor? Lots of holes in the grass, broken heels, and possibly sprained ankles, that’s what! You want something smooth and flat to dance on.
Bonus tip: Just because you now have the perfect dance floor, don’t trust that everyone (bride and groom included) knows how to use it… Google ‘worst wedding dance’ to see what we mean.
5. Be seen and heard
With outdoor weddings come outdoor disturbances. Like noise. A nearby overzealous gardener firing up his lawn mower at some unearthly hour. Traffic noises. A party next door. Crashing waves. The (stage)whispering wind. Make sure everyone can hear you, if your guests are having to strain to hear your vows and toasts they are likely to stop listening altogether and start chatting - adding even more background noise to the problem. Rent audio equipment (and we’re not talking just music: think clip microphones for bride, groom and MC) - and someone to run it - if your space calls for it.
Bonus tip: Check out wireless audio options for a trip-free wedding.
6. Light up your life
Nothing says ‘romance’ like a string of fairy lights. Or 10. Fairy lights, chandeliers, lanterns, luminarias, Chinese lanterns, torches, even a strategically-placed spotlight can make all the difference. String them throughout your tent ceiling, place them on tables, wrap them around trees and natural shrubbery… The lighting can make or break a venue. Also be sure to light up any pathways guests may need to use - to the catering tent or restrooms, for example.
Bonus tip: Put camping lanterns underneath table cloths for a glowing evening lighting idea. P.S. Open flame candles are a serious hazard. House them appropriately or opt for LED versions!
7. Let nature lead
Let the time of year and seasonal offerings guide you in your decision-making. (The only thing that the season needn’t affect, of course, is the fact that you’re holding your wedding outdoors!) Work with what’s growing at the time of your wedding to determine both your flower situation and your menu.
Also take the weather into account when it comes to planning both flowers and food. Roses and dahlias, for example, will stand up to wind and rain better than daisies and peonies. When it comes to your menu, avoid rich, heavy fare in hot weather as well as things that may melt (like cheese!). And in cold weather, offer cups of warm soup to keep that lovely warm glow inspired by your vows going.
Bonus tip: Ensure that your food areas have proper cover and protection from both the elements and insects. Nothing ruins a mouthful of marshmallow mousse like a midge!
8. The bare necessities
Portable toilets may not be the most romantic of considerations for your big day, but needs must! If there aren't any restrooms nearby (and even if there are a few), you should consider renting them. These days, you can even find luxury versions, with music, granite countertops and air conditioning or heaters. No need to blow the budget on toilets though: just make sure they are clean, easily accessible, and perhaps beautified a bit with a few extras like handmade soaps, soft lighting (LED candles are a good option), fresh flowers, and luxury hand towels.
Bonus tip: The general rule of thumb is to have one bathroom or stall for every 35 guests.
9. Rent the extras
Save yourself a world of hassle by renting all the extras to go in the blank space offered by your open-air space or tent. Chairs, tables, table cloths, chair covers, crockery, cutlery, glassware… Because nothing ruins a good wedding party like having to scrounge for clean glasses! There are one-stop shops that can do it all for you. If your vendor doesn’t offer setup and teardown of these extras, be sure to delegate this to either an event planner, or a willing troop of friends or family. You don’t want to be worrying about returning said clean glasses the morning after.
Bonus tip: Reserve the site for your wedding day as well as the morning after. (Find out if the venue offers a package deal or how much each additional hour will cost.) With tent and rental setup, flowers and décor, you will need the extra time. Teardowns at Cinderella-o’clock are no fun. No fun at all.
10. Remember: You’re marrying the person, not the place
Finally, more important than any other tip you’ll ever get: you’re marrying the person, not the event. It doesn’t matter how perfectly, or how awry, everything goes in terms of the tent, the tiebacks, the flowers or the champagne flutes, the person you are marrying is the most important thing. Keep your eye on that prize and your wedding will be perfect, planning perfection or not.
Bonus tip: "The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue.” (Or tent!) - Barbara de Angelis
Here's to your Dream Wedding!