5 Important Considerations When Having An Outdoor Wedding
Having an outdoor ceremony means there are many ways to personalize your wedding day, but there are also many limitations. When choosing a venue, you’ll need to follow these 5 important considerations when having an outdoor wedding.
Consider Your Guest List
One of the most important choices you will make when it comes to your wedding, is where will the wedding celebration take place…Beach? Restaurant? Ball Room? Ranch? Each venue location has its share of personality, décor limitations, and logistics, especially when having an outdoor wedding. The amount of guests you are inviting really has the greatest impact in determining where you will have the wedding so before you run-out to have a site tour of your dream-location, consider how many guests would be in attendance first. Having a guest list of 200-plus will not work at an intimate, cozy barn or ranch that can only hold 120 guests. Don’t decide on your location without first considering your guest list.
Saying “I Do” in the great outdoors is one of the most romantic ways to unite your love. Unlike houses of worship, the outdoors lend itself to the natural surrounding beauty. Parks, lighthouses, botanical gardens, historic mansions/estates, beaches and other outdoor venues are charming, but can have their limitations in terms of flow, symmetry, and access. Is the area that you’re considering flat or sloped? Will you have sufficient heating or cooling to keep comfortable? Will your guests be able to park close-enough to the site? I recall attending a wedding once where the bride and groom chose a lovely town landmark, but there was no near-by parking and we walked. And walked. In the hot sun. Long-distance walks to the ceremony site, or walking on a beach may not be feasible for elderly, young children, or those with disabilities so you may wish to consider shuttle transportation if it is quite a distance. I recall working with one bride who said to me “I just want a simple, beach wedding”. Well, beaches in general, have one of the most difficult regulations and logistics—some don’t allow glass or liquor, garbage disposal may be an issue, parking is not always easy, and keeping guests out of the hot sun and keeping them cool make it challenging. Also keep in mind that with places that are open to the public, it may be difficult to maintain an appropriate perimeter and you will need to keep this in mind when determining your comfort level. Be prepared for beachcombers (beach weddings), casual onlookers that will stop to watch your wedding ceremony (this happens all the time in parks, and there is nothing that I can do—as a wedding coordinator—to ask them to leave, they have a right to be there), people walking their dogs (or dogs running off leashes), noise from surrounding recreation, children playing or traffic, and of course, pesky insects. No matter what you decide, when having an outdoor wedding, you will also need to consider restrooms—that you have enough and that they’re within close proximity.
Electricity—The Unglamorous Forgotten Detail
At the time of this blog writing, officials from the Superdome are still investigating the cause from Super Bowl XLVII ‘s electrical power outage. Preliminary findings are beginning to conclude either infrastructure problems left over from Hurricane Katrina or a faulty breaker (it wasn’t Beyonce—she brought along her own generator); the latter being something that could have been prevented with careful planning. When having an outdoor wedding, proper electrical support is a imperative. And here’s another tidbit: just because a venue location has a power source available, it doesn’t mean that the total amount of power is usable, nor does it mean just because you can plug into it, you can power it—there needs to be a “buffer” so that a risk of tripping the breakers is kept to a minimum. I’ve found this to be the case when working with clients who chose an at-home wedding or a historic location—indoors there’s usually no problem, but bringing everything outside could be complicated. Planning ahead is the only way to minimize or avoid power failures or a facility not having enough power. Always plan to have more power than you need by considering redundant backup generators (two generators that run simultaneously, but if one fails, the other picks up the load allowing for no outage) or a standard generator with a transfer switch (Hurricane Sandy taught me this one!). Having fans, heaters or using pin-spotting or some of the peripheral “house lighting” can allow guests to be comfortable and be able to see, should the power go out. You’ll want to discuss these options with your vendors, should there be any power issues or worst—a severe storm or flooding that interferes with an entire electrical grid.
Sure, there are a lot of drawbacks to having an outdoor wedding, but with the right planning, the distractions and dilemmas can be handled properly. This means always have a “plan B”, an alternative/indoor location available and no matter what time of year, or what the weather is planning to be, I would highly recommend hiring a tent as this serves as shelter and protection from the sun in the hot months. Some facilities offer permanent tents on-site that could be used for inclement weather, while locations would need to have a tent-rental company secured. If you are considering a tent to serve as a ceremony/reception location should it rain, this may appear obvious, but you’ll need to make sure the tent offers enough to shelter from the rain, such as a generous width, or sides. Most tent rental companies offer “tent insurance” where a deposit is required to reserve the tent, but the tent is only installed and set-up that morning with the remaining balance due that day.
The stakes are always high when there’s a large group of people celebrating outdoors, and the bride and groom are spending a great deal of cash to make it happen. Don’t get blinded by all the glamorous “pretty” details and forgo the important logistics, permits, and equipment and clean-up needed, , or else you may be left without much of a celebration, and left with a great deal of regret. Why not defer to an expert? A wedding planning team is skilled in knowing how to match the right outdoor venue, catering team, and professionals to suit your particular style and wishes. They also know how to aesthetically plan for inclement weather (nope, the blue tarp in your garage and five poles isn’t going to cut it) and they can even help guide you in formulating your guest list. Lastly, with something as non-glamorous as considering the electrical supply, a wedding planner can accompany you on your site tour, or speak with your DJ, live musicians and lighting team to discuss the electrical power supply situation to avoid any mishaps on having an outdoor wedding. One DJ company that is highly recommended by us, even staffs his own electricians! Rob Alberti owner of Rob Alberti’s Event Services- Disc Jockey/Event Lighting Specialist/Photo Booth Rentals has this to offer:
“Anytime we are doing lighting, we need to know the facility or do a site visit and we check the power. I actually have 4 electricians on staff, so if there is ever an issue – we can handle it. I also carry a battery powered inverter that will allow me to DJ for a couple hours off of battery power even if the power goes out. We always spec-out our power draw and put that into our quote if it is an issue or if there are special needs that the facility cannot handle.”
For more on how we can make your outdoor wedding a smooth, enjoyable event to remember, contact us today. We’ll share a cup of jo’ and discuss solutions, free of charge!