Now that we’ve turned the corner toward spring, thoughts turn to spending more time in the beautiful outdoors. And with that comes the idea of outdoor wedding prep. If you’ve already chosen a date and venue, congratulations; it should be a wonderful season for a ceremony al fresco! If you haven’t gotten this far in your planning, or if you’re aiming for a summer or fall wedding instead, there are still considerations you can make now for how to prepare an outdoor wedding that maximizes a memorable setting for your ceremony, your reception and your photography opportunities. Here are a few aspects to consider when planning your outdoor wedding in any season.
- Location—The most important consideration aside from climate is the location of your outdoor wedding. The size of your wedding will help you decide whether an intimate garden setting is appropriate or if something larger like a botanical garden if one is available and suits your expenses. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, think about friends or family who might have a pretty backyard setting that you could use; an outdoor wedding on a site that has meaning to you and your attendants is a perfect personalized choice for a smaller event.
- Lighting—An afternoon wedding will have plenty of bright and happy illumination to spare; a beach setting is even brighter, though reflections off the water might dazzle your vision, or that of your wedding goers. Visit the site ahead of the wedding during the time of day when your ceremony will take place to gauge positioning for maximum lighting impact. If your outdoor wedding is an evening event, think about adding a gentle romantic glow using candles on tables and lanterns or fairy light strands hung from trees. And if you’re particularly celestial-minded, planning your wedding for the night of a full moon can bring all the elements into perfect lighting alignment.
- Décor —For an outdoor wedding, the setting can serve as the décor as well. A rose garden overflowing with colorful blooms, a greenspace with lots of lush limbs and leaves, or a lakeside setting under the trees will give a striking background for the ceremony and the reception. Take advantage of the setting by choosing a focal point for the ceremony that maximizes the environment. A few simple hanging ornaments can create a visual border to hem in the space; think tasteful tulle swags or floral garlands, things that keep with the atmosphere while leading the eye to the bride and groom for the ceremony, and something like a runner or a path of flower petals to direct wedding goers to the reception area.
- Table Settings—With a few easy touches, you can pull the theme of the outdoor setting into the décor of your reception. For a woodsy setting, use tasteful sprays, pinecone bundles and branches as rustic tablescapes, or fill small vases with flowers that match the background of a garden wedding setting. Shells and sand dollars in small glass globes filled with sand and tealight candles will make lovely ornaments for a beach-themed wedding, and autumn leaves with your guests’ names elegantly lettered make stunning placeholders for a fall wedding. Be imaginative with your table settings to give your wedding a cohesive feel that incorporates elements of wilderness in meaningful ways.
- Weather—If you outdoor wedding takes place in the fall or on a cool spring evening, your guests might need to bring jackets or gather around space heaters to keep comfortable; if it’s a summer wedding, they might need an air-conditioned indoor space to cool off, or maybe more casual dress. The time of year and setting of your ceremony may determine the attire of your guests, so be sure to outline the expectations in your save-the-date cards and invitations. Of course, you can’t control the weather on the day, but a bit of forethought will make sure you’ve covered as many bases as possible.
An outdoor wedding brings the majesty of nature to a most significant day and can lend a sense of awe to your auspicious occasion. With enough planning and ingenuity, you can create a wonderland for your special day and create a memorable event that expresses your love of the outdoors as much as it does your love for one another!