Do you have this romantic dream of tying the knot with your loved one with nothing but blue skies and sunshine above your heads? Of course, we want you to have your dream wedding day but bare in mind that there are quite a few practical issues to consider, especially if you want to get married outdoors.
You can’t get married outdoors
If you’re marrying in England, unfortunately you can only be wed under a fixed roof. This could be a verandah of a house or even a bandstand but it has to be fixed. You can’t get married in a marquee. You can however get married in a beach hut – Bournemouth beach has recently been licensed for marriages so a traditional wooden beach hut is an option here.
Although you can’t be married outside under the full sky, you can have a blessing somewhere, such as a beach or a forest, even on top of a city rooftop, if that’s what grabs you.
Generally speaking, we don’t think an outdoor wedding is an option in winter. Spring is possible but the day might be sunny and bright, the evening and night can be chilly with a frost, so you need to think about that, the same applies in autumn. Summer is the best season for having an outdoor wedding but you’ll need to have a backup plan in case it rains, plus summer evenings in late August can still be quite chilly.
Think about cover
Even if the weather forecast is amazing, with not a cloud in sight, make sure you have shelter somewhere – maybe a marquee or a nearby barn to flee to in case of an unexpected thunderstorm.
Inform your guests
Tell guests that most of the ceremony and wedding will be outdoors, as you don’t want people shivering in light frocks and bare legs. Make your invitation descriptive so it’s obvious that there’s an outdoor theme and your friends can accessorise appropriately with pashminas, wraps and maybe even wellies!
Forgo the traditional breakfast
Outdoor weddings give you an opportunity to ditch the formal three-course meal. If you’re holding the wedding ceremony in an open-sided barn or marquee, then a buffet-style set up will work well. It also works out cheaper, especially if you’re handling the catering yourself and you’re planning a DIY wedding.
An informal celebration
At an outdoor venue you could have a table plan or free seating depending on numbers and how formal you want things to be. Maybe just direct guests to a particular table but let them work out the place setting themselves?
What food to serve?
This is the perfect opportunity for offering afternoon tea on the lawn (weather permitting, of course). You could then have a hog roast or just keep it to tea.
Set up a marquee
We love a good marquee at an outdoor wedding. However, you might also want to include blankets for the chilly evenings. Yurts are more robust and stable than marquees, they can offer a large inside area and so are more suitable for weddings when the weather is more uncertain. Some yurts even have interior wood-burning stoves so they’re perfectly cosy for cold-weather weddings.
In fact, set up two!
We love the idea of having two marquees – one for dinner and dancing and another as a chill-out area. Yurts and tee-pees are fun and relaxed, furnish them with cushions and chairs for lounging! You could even use hay bales!
Don’t forget generators
If you’re using marquees, remember to hire a reliable large generator. You’re going to need to power lighting, heating, a sound system… get advice from your venue if you’re unsure.
Toilets are a must
You may well need to hire some outdoor toilets – again ask your venue or your hire company about what’s on offer.
Think about lighting
As well as lighting for inside your marquee, you’ll need to light your guests’ way to the car park and toilets. Fairy lights look attractive strung through the trees, but remember it may be windy so plan accordingly.
Gather around the fire
A fire at an outdoor venue can be a great place for guests to gather around. Just make sure there’s a fire blanket handy and keep a close eye on any children around.
Outdoor weddings are versatile
An outdoor wedding works for all numbers of guests. You can have a small intimate weddings with just 25 guests and a cosy reception or you could have a huge open-sided marquee that seats 250. It just depends on your budget!
Personalise your outdoor space
An outdoor wedding allows you to personalise your big day in a way that a brick and mortar venue doesn’t. You’re not bound to any particular style so use that to your advantage. You can have an English country garden theme, rural or rustic… whatever takes your fancy!
Provide some umbrellas
You might need to have a few brollies to hand and maybe some wellies, too, if the weather is forecast to be wet.
Check for any restrictions
If you’re outside there may be restrictions on how long you can play music for, especially if it’s loud. Make sure you know any limitations on music before you decide on a venue.