When you hold your wedding outdoors, many of your decorating needs are taken care of by Mother Nature. Whether you get married in a park, your back yard, a beach or at a scenic landmark, the scene is likely to be surrounded by plants, trees and flowers.
There are, however, special considerations and precautions to be aware of when planning an outdoor wedding.
First and foremost, you'll want to have a back-up plan in case of tumultuous weather. Some parks and other locations have both indoor and outdoor facilities. This is ideal, of course.
If you do have to suddenly move everything indoors, you'll want to do so with relative ease. Brief your wedding party ahead of time on what they will need to do if weather turns. Assign a few people to be "chair movers," one person to be in charge of directing guests, etc.
If there isn't an indoor facility at your location, it is a good idea to have a tent available. Make sure you know how to set it up; a trial run is always a good idea.
When sending out invitations for an outdoor wedding, let your guests know they will be outside. For out-of-town guests, include average weather information for the time of year. This will help them in deciding how to dress for the occasion.
Are restrooms available on site? If not, rent port-a-potties.
Will you need electricity for a band or for caterers? Consider renting a generator.
Bugs can be a menace at summer outdoor weddings. Hire an exterminator to spray the location before the wedding, or place citronella candles around the perimeter.
A wedding arch is a popular way to decorate for outdoor weddings, and makes for a grand entrance. Keep other decorations simple. Topiaries, Japanese lanterns and standing candles are nice options.
Luminaries, which are simple to make, can turn an ordinary walkway into an enchanted path. Fill brown (or white) paper lunch bags with a few inches of sand, and place votive candles inside. Fold over the top of the bags, and line each side of the path way with the bags, about one every two feet. It creates a beautiful effect.
If you plan to serve alcohol at a summer reception, keep in mind that alcohol is dehydrating. Have plenty of pitchers of water on hand, freshened with lemon wedges or slices of cucumber.
Before the big day, visit the site at the same time of day that you'll be holding your wedding. Notice things like where the sun's position is; you don't want your guests to have to look directing into the sun. If you expect warm temperatures, place at least some seats under trees for shade.
For an delightful touch, have your programs printed on Japanese-style fans, fastened with a handle. You might have flowers printed on them that match your wedding bouquet. When guests become warm, they'll be delighted you thought of them, and the fan will serve as a memorable wedding souvenir.
On the other hand, if the forecast calls for a cool front, you might want to rent space heaters. Do all that you can to ensure your guests don't leave early because they are uncomfortable.
Take all these things into consideration and your outdoor wedding will go off without a hitch, regardless of what Mother Nature has in store.