By Lynn Adams
Outdoor wedding venues are beautiful; how do you know you’re finding the perfect one for your big day? Here are 8 things to know when picking your venue. Outdoor wedding venues can be stunning and exceedingly romantic. They can also be sweaty and uncomfortable without the right planning.
Considering the average US wedding cost is around $26,000, you’ll want to be sure the day is well thought out so your big bucks don’t go to waste.
In this post, we’re covering the 8 most important factors to consider when planning your outdoor wedding.
They say that planning a wedding is all about the details. That said, don’t get so wrapped up in the details that you forget these key factors.
Consider the seasonality of your wedding at your location. At an Orange County beach, you have pretty great odds of having your wedding on a warm, breezy, sunny day year round. However, having an outdoor wedding requires you to prepare for imperfect weather. You’ll want you and your guests to be comfortable with all that fancy attire on. Nobody likes the feeling of chattering teeth or their makeup melting off, so consider spending a little extra to create the optimal temperature at your outdoor wedding. For a fall, winter, or evening wedding, supply heat lamps and blankets for your guests to cozy up with. For a hot day, supply ice cold water, fans, and shade for people to cool off. You can find a venue with plenty of tree cover, or find some sun umbrellas your guests can use to keep cool.
You also have to consider the possibility of wind. If you watched the wedding of Molly and Jason on The Bachelor, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. Check weather forecasts for wind around the time of year of your wedding date. 0-7 mph winds won’t be very noticeable. 8-12 mph winds will leave you with a light, comfortable, and even romantic breeze. 13 mph and above, though, you’re headed for trouble.
If you anticipate some manageable wind at your venue, plan ahead by choosing attire for you and your wedding party that can handle it. We all love a Beyoncé fan to look our most glamorous, but chiffon whipping around and hair smacking into our eyes isn’t quite as cute.
Also, be sure floral arrangements, lighting, table linens, and other decoration is appropriately weighted down.
To keep your stress levels low, always have a backup plan should the weather go crazy on the day of your outdoor wedding.
It’s up to you, the venue, and your wedding planner to make the call on what the backup plan will be. It could be a quickly constructed tent or an indoor venue on the property.
The biggest upside to outdoor wedding venues is their natural beauty. You can even cut back on the cost of decorations by simply centering your ceremony and reception around the jaw-dropping views. Just check in with your venue on how they prep the grounds for a wedding, (i.e. raking the leaves or sand, mowing the lawn, clearing dust, etc.) Many outdoor wedding venues include these tasks in the cost of the venue, but you may want to add in a little extra sprucing up for your special day. Of course, when you’re outdoors, you should embrace the natural light. Your venue may look its most stunning at sunset, for example. Be sure to plan for some of your wedding photography around the most beautifully lit time of day.
Pay attention to the typical direction of the light during the time of your ceremony to ensure that you set it up in a way that won’t leave you, your officiant, or your guests blinded. At most venues, you’ll want to orient your ceremony so that the sun falls on your guests’ backs, and utilize your altar for shade for the main players. After dark or in case of cloud cover, you’ll want to choose a wedding venue that supplies sufficient lighting or bring in some lights of your own. Outdoor wedding venues can look stunning with string lights, LED candles, romantic tent lighting, etc. that sets the tone of your wedding as well as keeps everyone safe.
Outdoor wedding venues require you to put a little extra attention to the noise control at your wedding.
During the ceremony, you’ll want to be sure you are heard above the noise of crashing winds, rustling leaves, city sounds, planes flying overhead, and so on. Depending on your venue and the number of guests, you may want to use media equipment such as standing, handheld, or clip-on microphones for the soon to be spouses an the officiant.
Your venue will likely have solutions to offer you. Your DJ or band may include ceremony and toasting microphones in their service package as well.
With both sound and lighting, you’ll need to inquire about electricity at your venue. Most outdoor wedding venues will have plenty of solutions to offer you. Others may require an extra expense and some creative thinking.
Every great wedding has a key necessity that you may not think of when caught up in planning the romantic and fun aspects. That necessity is, of course, restrooms. Consider the number of guests you have and make sure the facilities are adequate. Roughly, you’ll want to have at least one nearby bathroom for each 25 guests.
Also, consider any guests with special needs such as wheelchairs and check to be sure the facilities can accommodate them.
If your venue does not have enough restrooms or the restrooms are too far away, you’ll want to rent facilities. For rentals, the way to go is wedding-worthy portable restroom trailers that are as good as a built-in restroom.
Of course, there are several different options depending on your budget. Even with a small budget, remember that this is a formal event and you should supply your guests with a respectable way to relieve themselves. At the bare minimum, make sure the toilets are flushable. It’s also great to have facilities that feature sinks with mirrors for guests to touch up their makeup after tearing up at your beautiful vows or getting sweaty on the dance floor.
Be sure the restrooms are nearby enough to be convenient, but not uncomfortably close to where people are eating. Ideally, you’ll be able to conceal the restrooms around the side of a building or behind some trees. For a nice touch, spruce up the bathrooms with some “wedding survival kits.” These could include things like band-aids, hairspray, and breath mints.
You’ll want plenty of seating for your guests during the ceremony and reception. Find out if seating is supplied by your venue or if you’ll need to add seating to the rentals budget. Adequate seating is key, especially since many people will be wearing uncomfortable shoes and want to take a load off between dances. An outdoor space with a capacity of 150 doesn’t mean 150 people can comfortably sit, dance, and move around. You’ll want enough space around the chairs, not just an area of wall to wall seating.
An outdoor venue can present the challenge of stiletto-sinking grass, dirt, or sand. You have several options to combat this problem: inform your guest ahead of time to wear wide heels, wedges, or flats. You can also provide guests with heel protectors which slip over thin heels and provide a clear, wider base that will keep your guests from sinking. You can also place an overlay on the ground, especially for the aisle and the dance floor. This will help you avoid an embarrassing trip or fall, plus it can add a decorative elegance.
Outdoor wedding venues mean there could be various critters that may disturb you and your guests during the ceremony. Certain venues may experience a greater influx of pests at certain times of the year. Ask your prospective outdoor wedding venues about the critters they face and tips on how to manage them. Be clear that you want a realistic response, and be willing to reconsider your date or venue if the pests could get in the way of enjoying your special day.
The last thing you want to deal with on your wedding day is being blocked from enjoyment by violated permits.
A registered vendor should be able to handle all of this for you, but it never hurts to double check.
Many venues will have city or state restrictions on noise, photography, parking, trash removal, and so on. Plus, most venues have differing rules about vendors, catering, and bands, DJs, and policies on drinking and smoking.
Ask your prospective outdoor wedding venues about all of these guidelines you’ll have to abide by should you choose to go with them. Getting clear on these guidelines and handling any necessary permits ahead of time will help you avoid surprises on your big day.
With all of these different considerations planned for, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters for your wedding day: the person you’ve chosen to marry. Remember to periodically stop and take in the beautiful day you’ve planned together. If some unpredictables happen, don’t let it ruin the fun, embrace it and focus on feeling the love.
For more wedding trends, tips, and tricks, check out each new issue of Orange County Bride online or at Barnes & Noble stores.