outdoor wedding planning advice

Outdoor Wedding Planning Advice (9 Ways to Ensure Success)

As wedding photographers we mostly think of weddings in terms of creating great images which means thinking a lot about light. It also means thinking a lot about emotion and experience. The more fun our couples are having, the more they enjoy their day, the easier it is for us to create meaningful photos to tell their story. Thus, Brides (and Grooms), this post is for you! Outdoor wedding planning advice to help you embrace rain on your wedding day, wind in your hair, and sand in your toes. Outdoor wedding planning advice tailored to help you find the right balance of rugged luxury.

We’ll be walking through 9 ways to ensure success but one thing to remember is that success has A LOT to do with managing your priorities and expectations. Make sure you download our FREE e-guide: Prioritize your planning so your wedding is a memorable adventure. One big question to think through before we get started. Are you eloping or having a lot of guests? Outdoor wedding planning gets more more complicated as more people get involved. These tips will help you determine just how complicated things can get so that you know what you are getting into. The simplicity of being in nature is still worth it as long as you do a little planning ahead of time. We’re here to help!

outdoor wedding planning advice

outdoor wedding planning advice

outdoor wedding planning advice

1. plan b: shelter

An outdoor wedding might be your dream, you might not picture your day any other way. But what if it rains, snows, or the wind blows your guests away? If you love nature like we do, you also appreciate that it’s unpredictable. Thus, the importance of a plan B. Shelter. Don’t just take my word for it, want to know what colorado wedding planner and owner of Glow Events says? “ALWAYS HAVE AN INDOOR BACKUP PLAN! Also, it is super kind to have a water station in the hot months (especially in CO and for out of town guests). Oh, we have a blog about how rain during your wedding can actually be a good thing!”

2. define the adventure level

There’s a part of me that wants to say embrace the snow storm, that’s part of the fun. However, after shooting 7 years worth of weddings I’ve decided there are no rules. Every couple sets their own adventure level. I think it mostly depends on the details of your wedding. If you’re planning an elopement, sure, anything goes. But if grandma is coming, we might need to think about her comfort as well. We always talk to our couples about finding the right amount of adventure for their wedding. It reminds me of planning our own honeymoon. We wanted adventure, exploration, hiking, and more… but we were also looking for a little relaxing on the beach and a few decadent meals.

3. when nature calls

Here’s a hard reality of outdoor weddings. They aren’t actually as simple as we like to think. We love the simplicity of nature and want to plan to celebrate a wedding there. But give 200 guests a belly full of beer and suddenly they’re in search of a bathroom. We’ve seen venues with insufficient plumbing to handle the quantity of guests and we’ve even seen port-a-potties overflow. A venue might be able to hold a lot of guests outdoors because they aren’t confined by four walls. However, the ability of a location to support guests also consists of the ability to tend to a few creature comforts.

4. unplugged

Depending on where you’re having your outdoor wedding, maybe you don’t mind that your guests don’t have cell reception. Maybe low-tech will be a refreshing way to celebrate. But that band, or the caterers, they need power. And electricity might help you see. We’ve seen outdoor receptions get a little too dark because lighting wasn’t properly considered after the sun goes down. At least light the way from the dance floor to the bar!

5. shade, sunset, and sky

Consider the time of year you’re planning your wedding and the comfort of your guests. Will a mid-day mid-summer ceremony mean pit stains on your bridesmaids dresses and sloppy sweat on your groomsmen? Will a sunny ceremony site leave your guests standing off to the side? If it’s a shoulder season will your guest be prepared that it might be cold OR hot? What can you do to plan and prepare for making everyone a little more comfortable in the elements? Fans, sunglasses, heat lamps, blankets, bug spray, water and lemonade, and considering location such as setting some things up in the shade or making sure your guests are staring at the sun.

Consider the backdrop. One of the joys of being outside is how the beautiful sunshine can warm your skin. As it cools off and the sun sets, the sky changes colors creating a romantic backdrop for dinner, speeches, a first dance or portraits. In photography we talk about the magic hour, the time before sunset when the light is beautiful. We also talk about blue hour, when the sky turns a dark blue after sunset.

outdoor wedding planning advice

outdoor wedding planning advice outdoor wedding planning advice

6. food

Don’t let your ice cream cake melt because your venue doesn’t have a freezer. True story. Not something you want to have to worry about. Nor should you have to. That’s what your wedding planner is for. You can also talk to your caterer, florist, and baker and ask them to connect with the venue to make sure they’ll have everything they need to keep your flowers fresh and your food delicious! Another fun and creativehttps://www.bergreenphotography.com/another-word-for-creativity idea is to consider including seasonal food in your menu.

7. rentals

Sometimes outdoor weddings require extra costs such as renting tables, chairs, tents, lighting, and a dance floor. Make a list of all of the potential items, figure out what your venue includes, and make sure you budget accordingly.

8. flow and experience

Some indoor venues have a clear flow between parking, the ceremony, cocktail hour, and the reception. With outdoor venues sometimes it’s not as obvious and might require you to create a flow. Will it be clear how to get from point A to B?

One thing is for sure, outdoor weddings lend themselves perfectly for capitalizing on the ethereal experience of being in nature. Depending on how “off-the-grid” your wedding will be, you might be interested in these 3 tricks for planning a remote wedding in a wilderness location.

9. capturing your day

If you’re getting married outdoors, the location you choose becomes the setting for your story. As photographers, we love using various techniques to capture your day. As you plan there are things you can do to ensure great photos. Many of them are already listed above, like planning for lighting, shade, and sunset time. Beyond that, just enjoy the experience. Some of the challenging aspects of an outdoor wedding make for great images.

We’re putting together a comprehensive post on outdoor wedding photography tips that will give you ways to specifically plan for getting great photos. Make sure you follow our blog or sign up for our newsletter below to stay in touch. If you’re more of a speed reader, you can see two simple wedding photography tips for outdoor weddings that boil it down to embracing the challenges and planning for the light.

outdoor wedding planning advice

outdoor wedding planning advice

In review:

  1. Have a plan B in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
  2. Define the level of adventure in order to determine how comfortable you want to be.
  3. Make sure your guests are comfortable by providing sufficient comfort stations.
  4. Enjoy a low-tech wedding but make sure you can still provide music, food, and light.
  5. Consider other ways to make your guests comfortable if the weather is too hot, too cold, or just right.
  6. Keep the food and flowers happy too!
  7. What else are you forgetting? Tables, chairs, dance floor, lights. An outdoor wedding often requires additional rentals.
  8. Be the architect, build a flow and experience for the day.
  9. When it comes to photos, embrace the challenges and plan for the light.

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We are Marc and Brenda Bergreen, a husband and wife photography team specializing in outdoor weddings and other adventures. Capturing people in nature and the mountain lifestyle is a passion that became a dream that became a life.

Based in Evergreen, CO we travel throughout the state as Colorado mountain wedding photographers. We also frequently travel to California and other wedding destinations to document love and adventure in a variety of memorable settings. Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know how we can help! Be sure to follow us (weddings instagram & adventures instagram) and/or like us (facebook) to stay tuned.

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