There’s always been a certain allure to outdoor weddings. At the right time of year, and when the weather cooperates, there’s simply nothing like one. No matter if it’s on an exotic beach or in your backyard, the natural beauty just adds something special to any wedding.
However, when the weather doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain, or when one of the many other possible problems surfaces, an outdoor affair can quickly turn into an unforgettable wedding for all the wrong reasons.
In our time in NY and NJ videography, we’ve covered a lot of outdoor weddings, some incredible, awe-inspiring affairs, and some not so much. So, we put together this little guide for planning an outdoor wedding so that yours can showcase all of the elements that enticed you to plan one in the first place, and none of the ones that tempted you to change your mind along the way.
Designate areas where people can cool down or warm up.
No matter the season, whether there’s a possibility of it getting a little too cool or uncomfortably warm at your outdoor wedding, it’s always a good idea to designate certain areas where people can recalibrate. In the warmer months, that could mean creating shaded areas by sprinkling some tents or umbrellas around the space, or you could use portable air conditioning units to keep people cool.
In the cooler months, you can put propane heaters in certain areas or, if possible, you can use open fires to provide warmth as well as serve as attractive additions to the visual appeal. Now, in our time creating wedding videos in NJ / NY videography, with these types of heating and cooling accessories, it usually takes extra time to set everything up and break it all down, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
The truth, though, is that tents and umbrellas can help with the sun, but if the weather really takes a turn for the worse, they may not be enough. So, for worst-case scenarios, it’s always a good idea to have some kind of nearby indoor Plan B. On top of that, some outdoor locations may not be inherently comfortable at all, so you may need to create certain lounge-like areas, not just for warming or cooling purposes, but so guests simply have a place to relax and get comfortable.
Get with the program.
Another measure you can take to ensure guests stay comfortable at your outdoor wedding is to make the wedding programs so that they can function as fans or cooling devices as well. Let’s face it, if it’s hot enough, guests will probably just use traditional programs to fan themselves anyway, so why not prepare for that and make it easier on them? You can also hand out sunglasses as well.
If the outdoor wedding is taking place in the cooler months, then, rather than fans, you can give out coverups or throw blankets along with the programs. And as longtime NY / NJ videography experts, trust us, whether it’s a crafty fan or a quaint quilt, accessories like these solve a tangible need while, at the same time, injecting a little originality into the ceremony.
Choose your beverages carefully.
At outdoor weddings in the spring and summer months, hydration is a factor. You need to make sure there’s plenty of water and that it’s easily accessible to guests at all times, whether you set up a hydration station or just have water bottles available. You can also use fruit-infused water or freshly squeezed orange juice to keep people hydrated, in addition to water.
For outdoor weddings in the cooler months, you can go with more savory cocktails like spiked coffees, hot chocolates, hot buttered rum, and warm ciders to keep people cozy and comfortable. Also, while you can use your drink menu to help fight off the heat or the cold, you can also cleverly tie the drinks in with your theme to help celebrate the season and the outdoors.
Don’t forget about the bugs.
We’ve been in NJ / NY videography for long enough to know that another constant threat at outdoor weddings is the invasion of bugs. So, try spraying the area down or having bug spray easily accessible to guests. You may need to cover the food as well to ensure the bugs don’t find their way onto your menu. Another option is to use citronella candles or lanterns.
On that note, if your outdoor celebration is expected to run into the evening, you can use creative lighting like paper lanterns, mason jars with tea lights inside, etc., to keep the space lit. Whether you hang them up or line a pathway with them, the point is, while you can use your lighting to fight off bugs, you can also use it to add to your wedding’s overall aesthetic.
Consider the restroom and navigation situation.
Just because your wedding’s outdoors, that doesn’t mean your only option for remedying the restroom situation is a shabby looking porta potty. There are luxurious restroom trailers available now that basically offer the same amenities as a luxury hotel bathroom, complete with hot and cold water, flushing toilets, and even heating or cooling depending on the season.
Now, the must luxurious restrooms around won’t do you much good if guests can’t find them, which brings us to another common issue at outdoor weddings. If you’re having your ceremony or reception at a somewhat unconventional or rustic outdoor setting, a space that doesn’t typically host many weddings, then you may want to create signs directing guests to the restrooms and other areas.
The point is, you don’t want to create a problem or frustrate guests, so you need to take measures to ensure people can easily get to where they need to go. The good news is, while it presents a little extra work, creating these kinds of signs also presents another opportunity to get creative and add something unique to your wedding, so make the most of it.
Whether you cleverly tie the signs in with the location or theme or they’re customized for you and your partner and your personal love story, don’t be afraid to do what it takes to make them your own.
About Us: Live Picture Studios, a longtime vet of the NY / NJ videography industry, has been creating cinematic wedding videos for the NJ, NY, CT, and PA area for years. At LPS, we strive to make memories magical through our unmatched cinematic storytelling abilities. Check out our wedding gallery to see what we mean.