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Ceremony and receptions

great wedding BY LEILA KALMBACH


Turning the great outdoors into a

Maybe you dream of walking down the aisle barefoot, the sea lapping


at your feet, the sun setting behind you. Maybe you want to marry on a sunny rock overlooking a waterfall. Maybe you want to say “I do” in a field of wildflowers. The great outdoors can add an element of enormity and beauty to your event, and provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic


wedding, so it’s no surprise that so many people want to be in nature to say their vows.

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Ceremony and receptions

However, nature doesn’t always behave the way we’d like it to. It’s part of the power of the great outdoors that one day

here are some tips for making everything

ily move inside in case of rain, you might

go smoothly.

want to include a note in the wedding invi-

Expect the best, plan for the worst.

tations informing guests of the alternate

it can be 75 and sunny, and the next it can

Choose a venue that has both indoor and

be 45 and hailing, but this shift becomes

outdoor areas so that you won’t be stuck

Find out about permits ahead of time.

much less appealing when you’re count-

outside if the weather is awful. If it’s sprin-

If your wedding will be held in a public

ing on nice weather for your wedding.

kling or the temperature is not ideal, you

place, you may need a permit. Make sure

can always have the ceremony outside and

you ask about all the rules for weddings.

So do you want to risk it? If you do

location in case of rain.

have an outdoor wedding, you must be

the reception inside – or if the weather is

Some places limit the amount of time your

prepared for the possibilities. You must be

really bad, you can move everything

wedding can take place. There may be

able to be flexible and not stress out too

inside. Make a plan for how things will be

rules about photography, setting up tents,

much if some part of the plan has to be

set up both outside and inside so that you

table and chair setup, sound volume, lit-

changed at the last minute. If you’re not

and the people you hire to help you will

tering, serving alcohol and more. Be sure

OK with last-minute changes, you may

be prepared either way. You might also

you know ahead of time so that you don’t

want to stay inside from the get-go.On the

consider renting a sturdy tent in case of

run into last-minute snags.

other hand, if you prepare adequately and

brutal sun or light rain. In heavy rain,

Plan drinks to combat bad weather. If

know you’ll stay cool no matter what, an

though, no tent will save you from the

you suspect it may be hot out on the day

outdoor wedding can be a beautiful way

mud that will be created when the ground

of your wedding, plan to offer cool water

to celebrate your marriage. If you do

gets soaked. If you’re unable to hold your

or other beverages to guests as they get

choose to have your wedding outdoors,

wedding at a location where you can eas-

seated. If it might be cold or rainy, plan

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Ceremony and receptions

to serve hot coffee and tea. Make sure

Talk to your vendors about holding the

appropriate beverages are available to

wedding outdoors. Your florist will be able

your guests after the ceremony and

to advise you of which flowers will stay

throughout the reception as well – more

freshest even if the weather is unpleasant.

than just alcohol, which is dehydrating.

Your caterer will be able to help you choose foods that won’t spoil. Your rental and decor shop will be able to advise you

unpleasant weather.

of what sorts of tables, table coverings and

Blowing in the wind.Even on the most beautiful of days, wind can be a problem in outdoor weddings. Don’t let wind catch you by surprise. If you’re hoping to have your wedding outdoors, choose fabrics for

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Beverages can go a long way toward making your guests feel more comfortable in

erence. Make sure your hairstylist knows

decorations will fare the best in the outdoor conditions you’re likely to encounter. You may be surprised at all the little things you must take into consideration when planning a wedding outdoors, but your

your wedding dress and bridesmaids’

that you’re having an outdoor wedding so

vendors will be aware of what they can do

dresses that aren’t so light they’ll blow all

that he or she can plan accordingly for a

to help.

over the place. When you choose your

style that won’t get messed up within a

Consider the noise. Imagine having a

dresses, make sure to tell the person help-

matter of minutes. Also, make sure to alert

conversation with a friend inside a silent

ing you that you’ll have an outdoor wed-

the bridesmaids and groomsmen that

church. Now imagine one at the beach, the

ding. The consultant should be able to

there may be wind andthey’ll probably

waves crashing behind you, kids running

help you choose fabrics that will stay put

want to wear pomade, hairspray or other

around playing and shrieking, and gulls

or just blow lightly, according to your pref-

styling products.

cawing. You’ll have to talk a lot louder on

Ceremony and receptions

the beach in order to be heard by your

If you’re expecting flowers that haven’t yet

prevalent at dusk, when a lot of weddings

friend, and the same is true of your wed-

bloomed, you may need to bring in extras,

are just shifting into the reception. If you’ll

ding guests. If you plan on holding your

whether cut or potted.

have fans set up to combat the heat, you

wedding outdoors, plan ahead to make

Dealing with the sun. If your wedding

may be able to keep most bugs at bay at

sure you can hear what’s going on from

day is likely to be sunny – and in Cen-

the same time. You might also consider

everywhere guests will be seated. You

tral Texas, the chances are good – then

setting up citronella candles or bug zap-

might want to rent sound equipment,

plan ahead to avoid discomfort on your

pers, or leave out a bottle of bug spray for

including clip mikes for those with speak-

part and that of your guests. Plan the

guests to use.

ing parts, if you have any doubts that

event to be held in shady areas as much

It can be nerve-wracking not knowing

you’ll be heard. If you’re hiring a DJ or a

as possible, or consider putting up a tent

whether you’ll need to change your day-

live band, you may be able to use some of

or tarp to block out some sun. If your cer-

of plan on the day of, but with proper

their equipment for an extra cost.

emony will be held during the day,

planning you can be prepared for whatever

Preparing the venue. For an indoor

arrange things so that the sun will be

nature throws your way. Done right, an

wedding, most of your preparations will

behind guests, not in their eyes. If the

outdoor wedding is an experience that

be done the morning of the event. An out-

ceremony will be at sunset, you’ll prob-

can’t be beat, but only you can decide

door wedding, on the other hand, requires

ably want the bridal party to stand in

whether you’re comfortable with the

a little more prep ahead of time. Head to

front of the setting sun.

unknowns. For an experience as big and

your site a few days before the wedding

If there’s one aspect of the great out-

life-changing as getting married, being sur-

to make sure everything is as you’ve

doors that will really bug you, it’s the bugs.

rounded by big and powerful nature may

agreed: grass mowed, hedges trimmed, etc.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes tend to be most

be the perfect way to go. AWD 

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Turning the great outdoors into a great wedding  

Article on whether to hold an outdoor wedding, and how to set up a contingency plan. Originally published in the 2010 edition of Austin Wedd...

Turning the great outdoors into a great wedding  

Article on whether to hold an outdoor wedding, and how to set up a contingency plan. Originally published in the 2010 edition of Austin Wedd...