Outdoor Wedding Planning
There is no doubt that outdoor weddings are a preferred choice by a lot of couples! While at first an outdoor wedding may seem easier and more relaxed let us break down some of the inside details and logistics of planning an outdoor wedding!
Britt got married in her parents yard in 2008 and Britt’s brother just did a similar wedding this year (2020). In addition to these 2 weddings Britt has been a part of 2 other outdoor weddings as well. She wants to share some first hand knowledge for planning a large event like this.
We would like to note that all of these weddings we are disussing had over 120 guests. So we will be discussing details on a larger scale.
There really is nothing better than getting to say your I Do’s on a beautiful summer day outdoors surrounded by your friends and family. If you are lucky enough to have a friend or family member with land big enough to host an event like a wedding then read on to see some of the things you need to consider!
Want to have peonies as part of your wedding flowers, but NOT getting married during peony season?? Did you know we have a technique for preserving peonies for MONTHS!!! Check out how we preserve them!
Now, we are not gonna sugar coat it … outdoor weddings are a TONE of WORK! More than an indoor venue by far! No matter what location you pick or how gorgeous you think the wedding location is the owners of that land/ home are going to want to do improvements. When Britt got married she spent WEEKS at her parents place washing siding, eavestroughs, painting the deck and benches and cleaning out the garage and tending to the garden.
Britt’s brother chose to have their ceremony in Britt’s yard and the ceremony in their parents yard across the field. This meant 2 yards to prepare and maintain, which meant even more maintaining and a longer TO DO list.
If you are not getting married in your own yard be prepared to spend countless hours helping the home owners months before the wedding getting their property looking gorgeous and pristine.
Outdoor Wedding Tent
Wedding tents are becoming more popular and are coming in more sizes. When choosing a size of tent you not only need to be mindful of the number of guests, but also leaving room for a dance floor, bar, DJ and tables for serving food. Britt set up a smaller tent outside the larger tent just for food which worked great. It is also nice to have enough space that you don’t need to set up the head table on the dance floor. Setting it up on the dance floor means having to move it later in the night.
Table and chair rentals! When you rent an indoor location usually they come with tables and chairs that fit the space. However, with a tent rental you will be responsible for sourcing your own tables and chairs. You will also probably want to invest in a higher quality chair that will be sturdy on uneven ground and also looks great for the ceremony. Unless you are planning on doing separate seating at the ceremony, most outdoor weddings use the same chairs for the ceremony and reception.
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Some tents now come with lights already hung in them, however we have not personally seen one. Setting up the lights in a tent is a BIG project. Britt’s brother is an electrician and it still took them HOURS to set up the lighting in the tent.
This also means that when you are allotting time for decorating it will take longer than you expect because you will have to wait to set up tables and decorations until the lights and any ceiling decorations have been set up.
Chatting about lights brings us to the next thing to consider … POWER! Where will you get your power source for the lights, DJ, microphones, food, etc… Britt’s family was lucky to have a major power source near by, but it still meant running cords across the yard and hiding them so guests didn’t trip over them. The next option is generators. While generators may be the only option keep in mind they are loud and you may need to turn them off during speeches.
Our biggest tip! Keep it SIMPLE!! Less is more. Keep the meal to a few good quality choices rather than multiple options. At Britt and her brothers weddings they both chose to have family prepare the meals. It is a lot of work, but a lot of people are willing to help out if you ask in advance. Two of Britt’s friends hired a local company for their weddings that has a massive portable BBQ and is set up for hosting outdoor events, which is another great option!
Britt and her brother both chose to have Beef Tenderloin steaks as their main course. They brought in big BBQ’s and had family prepare the meals!
Britt’s Wedding Menu:
Appitizers: Fresh Veggies (no dip because keeping things cool like dips is hard)
Main Meal: Beef and Pork Tenderloin
Baby Potatoes from the Garden
Literally that was all and a decade later people are still talking about how delicious that supper was!
Britt’s brothers Wedding Menu:
Appetizer: Fresh Seasonal Veggies, crackers and cheeses
We also recommend purchasing disposable plates and cutlery. Trying to deal with that many dishes in a standard home is not realistic. You can get a lot of nice looking plastic and wood plates that your guests will still be happy to eat off of!
Food Considerations ...
Fridge and Freezer Space! Be realistic about where you will store all of things needed for the wedding – food, beverages, ICE!! So much ice! Also you will need food and snacks for people hanging around and helping the day of the wedding around your home. Breakfast, lunch snacks, etc… Also typically there are a large number of people around the morning after the wedding … maybe ask a few family members to cook breakfast! Now you will want to do this to encourage people to come back in the morning to help clean up! Cleaning up is a big job!
You will probably need porta potties – yes they are ugly but very necessary. One thing about outdoor weddings is that for most men the outdoors are their urinal. Britt had 180 guests and only had 2 porta potties. However, due to covid and helping with sanitation Britt’s brother’s wedding had 4 porta potties for 120 guests. Set up wash stations outside of thebathrooms with some water in jugs so people feel like they can wash their hands good without trying to go inside the person’s home. Whomever the host of the wedding is probably does not want over 100 people traipsing thru their home.
Parking is always the hottest topic at any outdoor wedding! Usually people will be camping and so leaving room for that needs to be considered as well. At Britt’s family land it was trying to find space for people to park, while keeping the cows locked up haha. Set up a sign and even park a few vehicles in the direction you want to encourage guests to park a certain way.
When you choose to have an outdoor wedding you know that weather will be an obsitcal and something you cannot predict. You can choose to rent a back up venue. However, we feel most couples are willing to brave the weather when they make this choice. Britt’s friend got married in a church and the reception was in a tent on family property. It was cold and rainy that day but everyone wore jackets and still enjoyed the evening in the tent!
Music is a big part of a wedding! Especially for an outdoor wedding if you can find someone to play live music we highly recommend it. Live music sounds more organic in an outdoor setting! Britt’s aunt and cousin played guitars at her ceremony and it is still talked about years later!
BIGGEST ADVICE FROM BRITT!!
You need a “PERSON.” With outdoor weddings there are so many little details that will need to be done the morning of the wedding and in between the ceremony and reception that as the Bride and Groom you will not be able to do on your wedding day. Find a person that is not in the bridal party that can coordinate or carry out these little tasks! For instance, you will proably not want plates and cutlery set out until just prior to the recption. Fresh flowers will need to be in the tent last minute to prevent wilting (hot mornings in a tent will wilt those flowers before guests ever arrive). Chairs and florals from the ceremony will need to be transferred from the ceremony to the reception.
Odds and Ends
Other things you will need to arrange that do not come with a tent rental. Dance Floor (However tent companies are beginning to provide these), a bar, podium, garbage cans, outdoor lighting for people walking around the yard. Ash trays for smokers - you don’t want to leave behind cigarette butts in your families yard. Tents have large ropes and spikes to hold the tent up. Have something prepared to mark these stakes.
Safe Ride Home! When you have an outdoor wedding chances are that the wedding won’t be in town limits! Taxis may be limited or non existent! Arrange for some friends or perhaps a local organization that is looking to raise money to hang out at the venue and provide safe rides home.
Permitts. Depending on where you live you will need to acquire a liquor permit and possibly a permit for hosting an event.
Having a Wedding during COVID-19
One last thing that we would like to touch on is having a wedding during a global pandemic. Britt’s brother’s wedding occurred in July 2020 during Covid-19. Restrictions had been eased during the time of their wedding, but some of the things they did to encourage good hygiene and limit the spread at the wedding …
- Multiple hand washing stations
- Food was a buffet style but they had a few people (who wore masks and gloves) dish the food onto the plates.
- Drinks were served in disposable cups and new cups were given with each drink by the bartenders.
- Opposed to having a “toonie” bar the couple put out a jar that people could pitch in money if they wanted which prevented the exchange and handling of money.
- There were masks set out if anyone wanted one.
- The couple asks guests not to attend if they felt ill.
- Guests were told if they were not comfortable attending they respected their wishes not to attend.
We hope that these tips on planning an outdoor venue don’t leave you feeling overwhelmed by choosing to have a wedding like this! To encourage you a little bit more to have an outdoor wedding check out these amazing images captured by the talented White Creek Ranch Photography.