Wedding Tips & Advice

What You Need to Know About Planning an Outdoor Wedding

Fort Casey wedding photos by Luma Weddings

Many couples want to get married outdoors, surrounded by natural beauty and amazing views. Outdoor weddings can be lovely, but they also pose concerns that you won’t have with an indoor wedding. Whether you select a site at a beach, the mountains, a beautiful park, or even your own backyard, planning an outdoor wedding takes special considerations.

The Pros and Cons

The natural scenery makes an incredible backdrop for your wedding photos, but there are also other advantages to an outdoor wedding. You may be able to accommodate more guests at an outdoor venue compared to the typical indoor banquet hall. You can also save money on decorations since the natural beauty of the setting provides its own décor. The informality of an outdoor setting can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the mood you want to create for your wedding.

Aside from the unpredictability of the weather, there are also other disadvantages to think about. Some outdoor venues such as public parks may have restrictions on alcohol use or music. Rental expenses for tents, chairs, tables, and other facilities can be comparable or even more than the costs of an indoor wedding. Also consider the terrain and whether guests who are elderly or disabled may be comfortable.

Preparing for Bad Weather

Most couples plan their weddings months in advance so they have only a vague idea of what the weather is going to be like on their special day. With an outdoor wedding, you must always have a backup plan. Many venues have indoor as well as outdoor spaces, so you might want to inquire about this when you’re booking the site. If there’s a bad storm, you’ll need to make the change at the last minute.

 Most rental tents provide adequate shelter for moderate rain and wind, especially if they are equipped with sidewalls. Portable propane heaters can take the edge off the cold, and fans can be used for excessive heat. You may also make umbrellas or blankets available for your guests.

Let Guests Know

It’s important to inform your guests that the wedding will be held outdoors. An invitation enclosure card is a good method of providing people with information about the venue and what to expect. Let guests know about the level of formality since many outdoor weddings tend to be less formal than indoor weddings. If there’s an outdoor theme, such as a barbecue, beach, or picnic, they will want to know.

Even if the wedding is more formal, guests will want to consider certain clothing choices. For example, stilettos don’t work well on a grassy lawn. On the enclosure card, it’s acceptable to make recommendations for dressing style.


Many outdoor venues will supply seating, but you may have to rent your own. In this case, you can get creative. For a very informal, backyard wedding, you may ask guests to bring their own lawn chairs. But, for most styles of wedding, you will want to rent chairs and tables. Wooden chairs, sometimes folding chairs, are popular choices because they are sturdy and work on almost all terrains.

For a daytime wedding, you’ll need to arrange wooden chairs under a tent. Wood furniture should be kept out of the sun to prevent damage. If the wedding is held in the evening, setting up chairs and tables under the stars can be beautiful and romantic.

Outdoor-friendly Menu

An outdoor wedding inspires many creative possibilities for the menu. A barbecue is always popular, with meats cooked on outdoor grills and served with a variety of salads and sides. Be sure to also offer vegan alternatives. Large iced coolers with canned and bottled drinks (including beer and wine, if you wish) can be fun ways to keep drinks cold.

In summer heat, keeping the wedding cake fresh can be a concern. Many brides and grooms like to display the cake throughout the reception, but in high temperatures, the icing could melt. Ask your baker for alternatives to icing or other ways to keep your cake cool.

Controlling Pests

Keeping bugs away can be a challenge, especially in some venues and at certain times a year. You don’t want guests to be uncomfortable swatting mosquitoes, flies, or bees, and ants can be a problem anytime food is served. While it is possible to prepare the area by having it sprayed by an exterminator, you may opt for more natural remedies, such as citronella candles or torches.

You may also try attaching dryer sheets under guests’ chairs. These contain organic chemicals that repel bugs. Finally, consult with your florist for flowers, such as marigolds, that don’t attract insects.

Sanitary Facilities

If your outdoor venue is held at a site where there is an indoor facility nearby, such as a golf course, you may not have to worry about toilet facilities. However, if there’s a long distance to the nearest restroom, then renting portable potties is a must.

Don’t worry; there are alternatives to the hot, smelly, plastic outhouses you’re familiar with from outdoor concerts and festivals. Some rental companies have luxury portable toilets that resemble camping trailers or RVs.

Getting There

Transportation and parking are concerns for any wedding, whether it’s outdoors or indoors. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in a park, at the beach, or other remote location, you will want to inform your guests where parking is available, and you may also offer courtesy shuttles to the venue.

If guests are expected to walk a distance from parking to the wedding site, mark a path, illuminate it with solar lights, and make sure it is obstacle-free. Wedding ushers may be able to help out for guests who may need assistance. 

Flexibility and creativity are necessary with planning any wedding, but if you choose to tie the knot outdoors, you’ll need to make sure all your bases are covered. Start early, make a checklist, and consider the possibilities. An outdoor wedding can be a joyous and memorable event.

Read this next: The Keys To A More Photogenic Wedding