Outdoor weddings are incredibly romantic and a growing number of couples are exchanging vows amid an expansive garden or with the splendor of the pounding surf providing a picturesque backdrop. Imagine the breeze catching the bride’s hair, barefoot bridesmaids and a beautiful sunset for those important photos. With breathtaking landscape from just about every vantage point, the Crystal Coast is a wedding venue just waiting to happen.
Keep in mind, however, that there is much more involved in an outdoor wedding than a traditional church setting. Tables, chairs, decorative awnings, lighting, sound – just about everything has to be carried to the location. And everything comes with a price tag attached making it easy for costs to rise.
The weather is arguably the most important consideration. Flexibility is a must, as is a back-up plan. Whether it be transitioning indoors to the reception area or ordering a tent just in case, be prepared for inclement weather situations.
Aside from the threat of rain, the temperature outside should be taken into consideration. For a summer wedding, make programs in the shape of fans or provide umbrellas for older guests while they sit in the sun. Have bottled water on hand and have an area in the shade where guests can wait before the ceremony begins. If seated too early, guests can get hot and uncomfortable. For the colder months, rent portable heaters to keep guests warm. Stock up on blankets and wraps to hand out and ask the caterer about setting up a hot chocolate and coffee stand before the ceremony.
Accessibility is vital if you are expecting elderly guests and children. Getting down to a beach can be difficult, especially if there isn’t a handicap accessible access. This can prove difficult for those with walkers, wheelchairs or strollers. The same applies to weddings in wooded areas. Uneven trails can trip up guests and prove to be a problem for anything with wheels.
For a ceremony away from the ocean breeze, be aware that ticks, spiders and mosquitoes may decide to join the fun. Have bug spray available for guests and comb the area beforehand for any spider webs or reptiles. Intersperse citronella candles in table settings to help keep critters at bay and be sure food remains covered.
While seclusion makes for a romantic setting, there are some things that you can’t go without. Access to electricity may be problematic if the outdoor wedding isn’t near an existing structure. Electricity is needed for music equipment and lights. If the wedding takes place away from an indoor location, portable bathrooms may also be needed, along with tables, chairs, tents, utensils and linens. Sound equipment may also be necessary so guests can hear the service over the sounds of the surf.
Keep in mind that cut flowers tend to wilt prematurely in hot weather. Rather than waste money and beautiful flowers, choose potted plants that will thrive if well tended. Guests can then take the plants home and continue to cherish the wedding long after it is over.
While sunset pictures are nice, it can be difficult to capture that moment. Schedule the ceremony to begin an hour or two before sunset so you can get the photos you want. Let the photographer know that the wedding will be outside so he or she can be prepared.
Make sure to let guests know in the invitation that it is an outdoor wedding so they can dress appropriately. When having a beach wedding, if shoes are optional, include that as well. But be careful – in the summer months, sand can get quite toasty. Perhaps you can offer a basket of affordable flip flops for folks to use to access the beach.
While there is a lot to take into consideration when planning an outside event, with some careful planning an outdoor wedding can be worth the extra time – especially when you take our region's stunning scenery into consideration.