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Inspiration Detail | The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

Beauty is often found in the most natural of settings. It’s hard to beat the Midwest countryside, city skyline or about anything in-between for a stunning wedding backdrop. Despite our beloved region’s reputation for variable weather conditions, outdoor weddings can offer a uniquely beautiful experience if you get the weather’s cooperation. So if you have been dreaming of an outdoor wedding, we have provided a few tips to consider while planning your big day with an outdoor element.

When considering the location of your outdoor ceremony and/or reception, determine where in the sky the sun will be positioned at the time of your event. To determine this, you can download a smart phone sun-setter application that will track the placement of the sun throughout your wedding day. If both the ceremony and reception will be held outdoors, think in terms of functionality. How will guests transition through the evening? What outdoor spaces will provide shade for guests? Be courteous and avoid seating your guests in direct sunlight or facing them into the sun. You would not want sun glare to interfere with their view or enjoyment of the occasion. 

Also, depending upon the time of year, the temperature may be a factor. You will want to do everything possible to make your guests comfortable in an outside environment. If covered or shaded areas are limited, consider having a mid-morning or early evening wedding to avoid everyone being subjected to the heat. 

Depending on your outdoor site, consider all rules and regulations for the location. A local park may make a beautiful backdrop for your wedding. However, before you order a tent, tables and chairs and other necessities, check with your local parks and recreations department. Many city parks require event permits and may have other regulations that you must consider. 

Serving refreshing drinks, such as iced tea, lemonade or water, as people arrive at your outdoor celebration will keep guests cool and comfortable. To avoid bug bites and sunburn issues, offer guests repellent wipes ($25 for 48 at lafreshgroup.com) and sunscreen wipes ($5 for 30 supergoop spf wipes at sephora.com). 

It is best to avoid serving heavy foods when hosting an outdoor reception. Guests will appreciate a fresh and light menu when trying to beat the heat. Replacing potato salads with pasta or tomato selections are great alternatives. You will also want to avoid serving fried foods as they will become soggy in short order due to the humidity. Baked chicken and fresh vegetables are always a crowd pleaser that will remain tasty despite a warm environment. 

If you are hosting a summer reception, guests will often drink more to stay cool. Be certain to offer guests non-alcoholic beverages and keep plenty of ice water within reach. By offering non-alcoholic beverages, guests can enjoy fun and fruity drinks without mixing high-alcohol beverages with high temperatures.

Be aware of the challenges that the outdoor elements will create when selecting flowers. Choose blooms that will be able to stand up to the heat, such as orchids and roses. Keep arrangements in the shade and out of the wind to extend their life. Avoid tall décor pieces as they may become hazardous on a windy day. Elements like driftwood, clear lantern candles, low floral arrangements and heavy vases are great outdoor décor alternatives that should withstand whatever the weather presents. 

Rent outdoor lights or hire a company to hang outdoor lighting to enhance the setting and to keep guests safe. Strings of large bulbs are a gorgeous way to add ambiance to your reception space. Battery-operated lanterns look beautiful hanging over a dance floor. If you plan to hang mason jars or tea lights from trees, opt for battery-operated candles to avoid any fire hazards. 

Tents can be glamorous and perfect for a Nebraska spring, summer or fall wedding. They offer protection from most weather elements while also allowing guests to enjoy the great outdoors. Tent rentals can vary, so discuss your ideas with your rental company. The multitude of options can span from traditional white canvas tents to tents with plastic, see-through roofs allowing you to dine under the stars. 

If you have a friend or family member with a spacious barn, this can be a chic way to host a rustic wedding. If you don’t have a personal connection to a barn space, you will find some venues that offer a barn for rent. The key to hosting a dinner in an old barn is to clean, clean and then clean some more! Sweep and power wash all floors if concrete; rake dirt floors for debris. Hanging lights or large chandeliers will add sophistication to the venue and provide plenty of ambiance and lighting for guests. 

For a smaller wedding, hosting your reception in a garden is as romantic as you can get. A long, family-style dinner table is very elegant and brings an intimate feeling to a smaller reception. Renting lounge furniture and a dance floor will encourage guests to sit, relax and enjoy the evening surrounded by fresh flowers and the moonlit sky.

No doubt outdoor weddings are beautiful, romantic and memorable. Just remember the importance of thinking through all possible weather threats in advance. Also, be certain to walk through your reception venue more than once, considering the experience from the vantage point of your guests. You will want to be assured of their safety and comfort throughout your special day. Finally, always have a backup plan if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Being prepared with a plan will allow your day, no matter the weather, to be everything you dreamed it would be. 

You will find a quick reference “Weather Guide” in FROM OUR NOTEBOOK at the back of this issue. |NWD|