8 Tips for planning an outdoor wedding

Have a backup plan, and know when to implement or drop it. 

Given that I wanted our ceremony to be open air, I was vehemently opposed to the idea of exchanging vows under a plastic tent. Besides just being costly, the plastic tent was completely unromantic. I also knew our cocktail hour and reception would be in covered areas (a pavilion and a barn). My parents booked a tent as a last resort, and a few days before the big one, we had to confirm or ditch it. After checking forecasts relentlessly, I went with my gut and told them to ditch the thing. In a serendipitous turn of events, it did not rain until after the ceremony.

Rain doesn’t have to be a terrible thing.

There are any number of small, unpredictable things that can go awry on your wedding day. Keeping a positive attitude (plus having that backup plan) is the best way to avoid becoming a bride- or groomzilla. In my case, the weather lent the day a special atmosphere. Two of my strongest memories of the day are the feeling of the humidity causing my wedding dress to cling to my calves and the dense mist surrounding us on the ride back to the hotel. The rain also made for a lot of cute photo ops with umbrellas.

Let the scenery shine.

As far as inspiring wedding images go, Pinterest’s cup runneth over. I decided to concentrate on finding the right outdoor site and focus my DIY projects on things other than an arch or backdrop. Behind us as we married were the barn, house, and silo of a Mennonite family. In what was another serendipitous, idyllic, too-good-to-be-planned turn of events, guests later remarked that the family had just put their laundry on the line to dry before we came down the aisle. While you want the scenery to shine, you don’t want it to blind: don’t forget to consider the angle of the sun to avoid making guests stare into it.

Consider how people will get to, from, and around the event.

Think about how guests will flow from one part of the day to the next, and pick your spots logically. Also, if you’re getting married in a remote location, like I did, invest in a shuttle bus. It will keep guests sane and safe. (In our case, I believe the cost was about $900 or $1,000.)
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