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Professional Tips to Ensure a Snafu-Free Outdoor Wedding

Industry experts offer up their advice for managing Mother Nature on your big day.
Sara Hubbard

Hosting weddings al fresco has become more and more common with pandemic safety concerns bringing celebrations outside. While there is little that is more romantic than a barefoot beach wedding or a woodland nuptials, the uncontrollable and often unpredictable forces of nature can quickly turn the perfect day to ruin. Not to fear, though, as we’ve compiled the best advice from wedding pros to keep everything under control. From seating charts to venue, take a scroll down to find the best ways to mitigate disaster when celebrating lifelong love in the great outdoors.

Bring in the Boombox

A sound system probably isn’t at the front of any couple’s mind when planning their outdoor wedding, but it should be. Nobody wants to be straining to hear what’s happening at a wedding, so save yourself a whole lot of stress and be sure to invest in a good speaker system for your officiant as well as you and your betrothed. "Voices simply do not carry in the wind. Consider renting a portable speaker and wireless microphone so all your guests can hear the ceremony,” says Hilary Keiser of Elite Events Rental. Everyone in attendance will be very grateful they could actually listen to your vows rather than trying to read your lips.

Find a Venue that Values Flexibility

The only guarantee in an outdoor wedding is unpredictability. The forecast may have predicted sun for weeks leading up to your big day only for you to wake up to stormy skies. “When it comes to outdoor weddings, we all know that Mother Nature can sometimes be uncooperative on the day of the event,” the team at Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm says. “The good news is, we have been through this many times, and we are here to help! Our goal is to hold wedding ceremonies outdoors as much as we can, surrounding guests with all of the beautiful natural backdrops found throughout Arbor Day Farm. That may mean waiting until the clouds have cleared to set out ceremony chairs or working with the bride to provide clear umbrellas in the event of rain (which makes for great photos by the way).”

Keep your Tabletops Secure

The last thing you want is for all of your beautiful place settings and centerpieces to be swept away in the wind. As a precautionary measure, Hilary recommends lifting the hems of your table linens to reduce the chance of disaster. "In the wind, shorter tablecloths risk blowing up and off the tables before guests arrive. We recommend floor-length tablecloths outdoors because these linens are heavier and are more likely to blow under the table," she says.

Check the Forecast. Then Check it Again

Rain may be the first fear that comes to mind when considering how Mother Nature may misbehave, but there are many other ways she can wreak havoc as well. Remember that extreme heat, high winds or high humidity can all take a toll on you and your guests. Tents can be a good solution to any number of meteorological mishaps – blocking out harsh sun as well as rain. “Event tents are a terrific way to host outdoor weddings as they provide welcome coverage in all types of weather,” says Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farms’ team. If you know it’s going to be hot, have personalized fans made that can double as ceremony programs or include your monogram. Providing chilled bottles of water or other beverages will also keep your guests happy as they enjoy your big day.

Wide Open Spaces

Keeping your celebration safe means keeping everyone at a distance. Find a location with lots of open space that makes it easy to socially distance your guests. Also, figure out a seating chart ahead of time. Knowing which of your guests live in the same household means you can cluster them together – thereby letting everyone be separate yet together. Communication and organization is key here. Have your calligrapher put together a seating chart and name cards to provide a gentle yet clear reminder that caution is of the utmost importance.

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