Is your wedding outdoors? Lots to consider. First there is the weather – unpredictable is 100% certain, so how to accommodate the possibility of rain, wind, fog, cold into your wedding plans?  I guess in the UK  the obvious answer is to always have a back-up. Wherever your venue, what is the onsite alternative – a marquee, a barn, an arbour?  Couples should always speak with the venue organiser so that the alternatives are covered and if last minute changes need to be made then the logistics already planned can seamlessly come into play.  

The important thing is to know what you are going to do, how long you will wait until you decide, and who is liaising with the venue so that the bride and groom do not have to be encumbered by last minute panic decisions. Talk to me about it.

At the moment, weddings booked for next year are 20/80 indoors/outdoors.  The conversations I have with couples about outdoor venues are more intense, more detailed.

Last year at Charlie and Mark’s wedding the rain was belting down until about 12.45. the ceremony was due to start at 13.00.  However we had agreed that one friend would liaise with the couple who would have the final say. We agreed to go ahead just as the rain eased off – seats were wiped down and confetti buckets uncovered!  However just as the vows were to be spoken it rained again but Uncle Tom came up trumps with his massive umbrella….. perfect!

Second there is a small matter of preparing your guests – let them know it is an outdoor ceremony and suggest they bring umbrellas and wellies just in case.

Third there is uneven ground.  Outdoor ceremonies are simply gorgeous. But sometimes not so easy for those with spiky heels, mobility issues, wonky legs, weak ankles, wheelchairs and zimmers.  Think about the route to the seating area and whether this can be chosen with the terrain in mind.  I have witnessed a few granny-tumbles before and after a ceremony. And many a heel laced with mud and grass cuttings. You might want to consider some hemp walkways for the main areas.

How about providing some ‘heel savers’ for the spiked heel brigade – it will raise a laugh if nothing else!

Outdoor weddings need careful planning

Fourth is space.  Being outside is gorgeous but the space is inevitably not as ‘contained’ as having a ceremony in a building so you have to bear that in mind when choosing the space you will use.  Think about how the seating will be planned – conventional straight lines, a horseshoe, a circle?  In what direction will the sun be shining – if you have your backs to north and the sun is full on then you will be looking south direct into the sun and your photo’s will be ‘squinty’! Try and view the venue at different times of the day and watch how the shadows fall as the sun moves around.  Also think about sound. Sound resonates in a building, but outside the human voice can drift away so this might dictate how you manage your seating – probably better to have fewer but wider rows, with a curve to contain the bride and groom and ensure your friends can hear you.

Fifth there is photography.  Outdoor options give your photographer loads more scope for creative and naturalistic shots. But talk with the photographer about what are those options, and include a contingency for weather.  A good photographer will raise this with you when you do your preparation with them but if they don’t then don’t forget to ask.