How to plan an outdoor wedding
There’s something about an al fresco wedding, the romance of embracing the great outdoors with gorgeous surrounds, while feasting and dancing with your guests into the night under the stars.
But, while outdoor weddings are sensational, they’re not quite as simple as their indoor counterparts, with many moving parts and things to consider when it comes to an open-air affair.
However, should you not be able to get an outdoor celebration out of your head, we’re here to help as we take a look at top tips for how to plan an outdoor wedding.
While an open-air event would be the stuff of wedding dreams, given the Australian weather can be notoriously fickle, you will likely want some overhead cover. Marquees, tents and tipis are a fabulous way to invite the outdoors in and can be adapted to suit any kind of occasion and location.
Do your research with rental companies who can offer many styles from fabulously formal to relaxed and romantic, there are clear-span, cloth many more to choose from.
Consider the type of surface your marquee will be erected on and if any floor covering is required, especially when it comes to the dance floor or uneven surfaces.
While you’re at it, it’s important to weatherproof your marquee. On a hot day, fans and portable air conditioners will ensure the comfort of your guests, while the cooler days or nights might require walling for your marquee and heaters too. Also consider what it means for you should torrential rain or gale-force winds be present on the day of your celebration, it might be worth having a back-up indoor option as an alternative.
Get in early.
Given that most wedding celebrations that take place outdoors will happen in the warmer months of Spring and Summer, demand could be quite high, so you will need to factor this in when it comes to booking your date. Do your research and secure your suppliers as soon as possible so you can begin planning your incredible outdoor day.
Be straight with your suppliers.
If you’re planning an outdoor wedding it’s good to let all your vendors know that this is the plan. It allows them to have a clear understanding about what they might need for your celebration or alternatively, what you may have to provide. Will your entertainment need access to electricity? Your catering company may need a generator. Will your florist need to consider using florals that will endure heat should it be a warm day? Will the celebrant’s PA system require power at the ceremony site? Be straight with your suppliers so they can be perfectly prepped for your day.
Invest in a wedding planner.
Enlisting the help and support of a professional wedding planner can ensure the success of your al-fresco celebration. Not only can they use their expertise to help you source the perfect property, but they are invaluable with knowing exactly what you need and easing any wedding planning stress. While some locations will come with their own planner (hooray), private properties often leave couples with the responsibility, which at times can feel overwhelming. A planner can help with guiding all your suppliers on the day as they set up and pack down, help with co-ordinating your guests (as well as the wedding party), and of course, are there to sort out any mishaps that may arise. If you need help with sourcing a wonderful wedding planner, here are some we highly recommend.
It’s all about the extras.
Hosting an outdoor wedding often means you are working with a blank canvas, which is a wonderful way to make your day truly unique to you. However it’s important that you factor in the extras that will bring your wedding to life. Naturally, you will need tables, chairs, tableware and lighting, but are you considering adding a little extra wow such as a beautiful bar set-up, stunning signage or perhaps a luxe lounge area? If you are, it’s important you factor these extras into your budget so there are no surprises at the end.
The brilliant aspect of an outdoor wedding is that you have an abundance of choice when it come to the food you will serve your guests. Get festive with food trucks (a brilliant option if you’re looking for something simple, as they can cater from anywhere), or bring in an experienced caterer who can create shared platters, plated service or maybe a gourmet barbeque might suit your needs. Either way, when it comes to enlisting your catering suppliers, speak with them in advance, and understand their needs – will they require a generator or a separate space for food preparation? Being on the same page will ensure everything operates smoothly on the day and allow you to ask what experience they have with outdoor weddings. As for drinks, you might have the opportunity to BYO, helping to save on costs, but you will need to consider staffing for service, cool rooms and have plenty of water stations on hand to keep your guests hydrated throughout the day.
Depending on the location, you may need to provide your guests a bathroom/restroom and so hiring porta-loo’s will be something you need to investigate. Depending on budget, you may be able to invest in the more luxury portable bathrooms that are now available. A general rule is that you will require one bathroom for every 50 guests. If you’re worried about the look, you can pretty them up with a simple vase of flowers and sweet soaps, also be ensure you have adequate toilet paper supplies.
Back up plan.
We know we mentioned this briefly earlier, but inclement weather is a big thing to consider when planning your outdoor wedding. Plan for bad weather outcomes in advance so you don’t need to spend the weeks and days leading up stressing about it. If you are thinking of celebrating completely under the stars, still reserving a marquee or having an indoor location on hand is a great idea. While it might mean you lose a deposit if not used, it’s much better to be over prepared than under. If you’re set on having a marquee, hire one that has walling. While light rain will be okay, torrential rain could call for you to put the walling down, and fast! It’s better to be proactive than reactive and you can rest easy knowing you have all bases covered.
Communicate with your guests and keep them comfortable.
When sending out your invitations it’s important to let guests know your wedding will be an outdoor affair. Be clear in your wording.
For example, “Dress code: our celebration will be under the stars, so make sure you dress accordingly!” will communicate with guests that they may need to bring a jacket and wear comfortable footwear.
Do factor weather into your planning to keep guests comfortable. Heaters may be needed in the evening to keep them warm, or coolers and fans on a balmy summer night.
Sensational suppliers are key when it comes to planning an outdoor wedding, but thankfully, we know the best in the biz. Get to know them here.