Secrets to a successful outdoor ceremony

Outdoor wedding

Top tips for planning an outdoor ceremony

The dream wedding ceremony…? A great big gathering outdoors on a gorgeous, blue sky, summer’s day. Obvs.

For some this is the absolute dream come true, but for many this dream can quickly become a nightmare when you find yourself staring out of the window in your wedding dress watching the rain come down right before you’re due to say I do!  …and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The reason it went so wrong? Poor planning.

One Celebrant gives her top tips for the perfect (practical!) outdoor ceremony, so you’ll soon find yourself planning the wedding you wished for – whatever the weather!

 Stephanie Ronan Sarah Wenban Photography Samantha Kelsie UKCelebrant 21

Knowledge is Key

Let your guests know your perfect plan in advance so they can prepare themselves to brave the elements. Include a note in your invite or on your wedding website to inform them that you plan to hold the ceremony outdoors, and give details of the conditions underfoot so that they can dress appropriately for both the weather and location. If you’re willing to brave a light shower on your wedding day then let guests know they’ll be braving one too. At least now they can bring the brollies if needed!

Have a Plan B for your outdoor wedding venue

B doesn’t stand for ‘back up’ it stands for ‘Brilliant Bride!’ Ok, I’m fibbing. B = Back Up. But even so, a brilliant bride always has a back-up plan! Anyone can hope to have an outdoor ceremony and fingers crossed they’ll get it, but the simple fact is this: it might rain on your wedding day and if it does, there’s nothing you can do about it. But what you can do is have a Plan B just in case (and be willing to use it!)  

Lisa Romane Wedding Ceremony Natalie J Watts Photography Samantha Kelsie UKCelebrant 1

Wedding shower? Supply towels!

Perhaps there’s a light shower in the morning, but by the afternoon the sky is bright with brilliant sunshine… hooray! You got the day you wished for! But you also got your guests’ bums wet. Bring along a few old towels so that if it does shower briefly between the set up and the ceremony, at least you can mop the moisture off your seats and keep everyone smiling.

Ponchos are funky guest cover-ups

Crisis… averted! Plastic ‘emergency ponchos’ are cheap enough to buy in bulk, so place them under chairs before the service if you’re determined to make your guests stay put in a down pour. Just think, your photos will look far funkier with a flock of neon-plastic-wearing smiley folks than those dripping wet with ruined corsages.

Hot weather wedding advice

If you are lucky enough to hold your wedding on what turns out to be the hottest day of the Summer, your guests will be eternally grateful to find a bottle of water and a paper fan placed underneath their seat in the ceremony. You can even have your ushers pass around the sun-screen for those who didn’t prepare to get burnt shoulders and heatstroke!

Laura and Nicky Dalibora Bijelic Photograhy Samantha Kelsie UKCelebrant 36

Consider ceremony supplier comfort too

Remember: it’s not just the guests you need to consider, it’s important to consider your suppliers as well. If you plan to brave so much as a shower, make sure your officiant knows this too so they can be sure to bring a waterproof cover for their folder, and ask someone like an usher to be on hand to hold an umbrella over them whilst they marry you. Similarly, your musicians will require cover come rain or shine to protect themselves and their instruments, so place them under a tree or small marquee to keep them playing bright.

Sounds like a great venue location

It’s not just the weather that can disrupt an outdoor ceremony, it’s noise pollution too. If you’re planning to be outdoors then make sure you visit your venue well in advance to listen out for any possible sounds that could interrupt your ceremony. These can include: traffic noise, flight paths, other people and buildings, or even livestock. If you’re holding your ceremony at home, let your neighbours know too, so they don’t use their lawn mowers at I-do-o-clock!

You’ve got the power!

If you’re using microphones for speaking or a sound system to play music, make sure you’ve charged up your devices and stocked up on new batteries (with spares!) to use on the day. There’s nothing worse than having your music cut out mid-way down the aisle because you forgot the trees have no power sockets… and be aware that wind can affect the sound quality of a microphone too.

Go With The Flow

Freak flooding aside (cue Plan B), if you have an outdoor wedding,  do be willing to go with the flow of whatever happens on the day itself and accept that you’ll be cool if change happens. If not? Well then my best suggestion is that you plan to make being indoors your Plan A to begin with… simple.

Above all,  have a great ceremony!

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Jennifer Claire is the Founder of The Celebrant Directory and lives and breathes all things ceremony! After officiating big days for 10 years, she now focuses on giving you the tips you need to create your perfect celebration.

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