Outdoor weddings can be unusual, wonderful, fun and romantic experiences for all your guests, so if you're contemplating going for one, congratulations! However, there are some extra points to consider to ensure your day is pleasant and comfortable for everyone. Here, we've highlighted some of our top tips for ensuring there are no hitches when you get hitched...
1. Pick the perfect photographer Not all wedding photographers specialise in outdoor weddings. If you have gone for a rustic theme, or a festival style, you may be hoping for some particularly stylised photos. Ensure you pick a photographer who can provide you with a portfolio of pictures that match the style you are hoping for, and communicate clearly with them about what you'd like from your wedding photos.
2. Make the sun your friend Think about the time of your ceremony and wedding breakfast, as well as your photos, and consider what the sun might be doing at these times. Ensure your guests are not squinting into the sun to watch your ceremony; it may be worth timing it later in the afternoon to avoid the midday heat. The lighting can be especially fabulous for photos as the sun is starting to go down - talk to your photographer about this.
3. Have a Rain Plan. Consider what you will do if it does rain on your big day. Most wedding venues, especially in the UK, have a back up plan in case it rains, or perhaps you've arranged for a marquee. If you've decided to have your ceremony outside and wedding breakfast inside, you should be able to move furniture around before the ceremony in order to accommodate it indoors if needed. Make sure that any marquees or tents you hire are sturdy and can withstand wind and rain.
4. Assume it will be windy. Even on a beautiful day, wind can be an issue, particularly if you've picked a location with a view meaning that it's on a hillside or clifftop. Consider this when choosing dress fabrics for the bridesmaids dresses and for the wedding dress - you don't want your bridesmaids 'doing a Marilyn'! Also make sure your hairstylist knows your wedding will be outdoors so that they can plan styles that won't be dislodged by the wind. Make sure any decorations and equipment that you bring to your venue or hire can withstand the wind and won't present a danger to your guests.
5. Ensure your guests are as comfortable as can be. Prepare for different weather eventualities. If it turns out to be hot and sunny, will your guests have plenty of shade? Consider purchasing some light-coloured umbrellas that can double up as shelter come rain or shine. You might also consider prodiving some little fans in case it is especially hot during your ceremony. Uncomfortably melting can be worse than being cold, and for some guests it could even be dangerous. Ensure there is shade and water on hand and don't leave them sitting in direct sunlight for longer than a few minutes without any option for shade. Make sure there is plenty of sunscreen on hand too - remember that sunburn + alcohol can be a disasterous combination! If it's looking like it could be a chilly, windy or wet day, try to contact your guests in the run up to your wedding and ask them to make sure they have extra layers. Consider also purchasing a few blankets that can be handed out for older guests if they do get chilly. Portable plug in fan heaters can make all the difference, so consider renting these.
6. Make it Sparkle Outdoor weddings can be stunning if you've picked a gorgeous location, but it's always worth ensuring everything is up to scratch at your chosen venue, and adding a few little details... visit the site in the run up to your wedding and make sure the grass is in good condition, flowers and trees are looking great, and think about any little extras you could introduce to really add an extra sparkle. Potted plants and flowers can add a bit of extra colour if your location is lacking in flowers, and consider how the whole area will look after dark. Fairy lights, lanterns, candles, and festoon lighting can make all the difference and turn a dark field into a magical wonderland - but remember to think about a power source for these items.
7. Make sure everyone can hear the ceremony. Outdoor weddings can present challenges where sound is concerned - wind, waves, rustling trees, singing birds, crying babies, and jingling decorations can all drown out the sound of the bride and groom making their vows. Remember that everybody present will really want to engage with this part of your day, so consider investing in a soundsystem that includes clip microphones, and make sure they work and you are comfortable with their use before your guests arrive.
8. Banish bugs Citronella candles make a big difference to the number of insects that might be bugging your guests - invest in plenty of little ones and place them stretgically around your venue, bearing in mind that drunk people and flames don't go brilliantly together.
9. Get the creative juices flowing Make sure your guests don't become dehydrated - remember that not everyone can handle alcohol in the sunshine. Offer fun alcohol-free drinks such as virgin cocktails, punch and fresh lemonade, and don't forget the water! For those who do enjoy an alcoholic drink, cosider some fun summer cocktails that are suited to daytime drinking: pimms & lemonade, mojitos, and prosecco & cassis are all-time summer favourites.
10. Keep catering in mind Ask your caterer about their experience in outdoor catering - how will they keep food at the appropriate temperature? Anything that needs to be kept in a fridge usually is unlikely to keep well in the heat, and meat or fish need to be eaten immediately if it's a warm day. Consider whether the meal you plan to serve is something that will fit in well with a hot day. A roast dinner might not be quite what people fancy if the temperature is soaring above 28 degrees. But also make sure the meal is sufficient for the level of alcohol you expect guests to consume! No one wants their guests to be asleep by 6pm at their wedding!