There's something special about an outdoor wedding: the intimate and warm setting of your own backyard, the classic ocean backdrop, the beautiful acres of farming hills or the romantic botanical garden. But as gorgeous as these sites are, there's also a great deal of work and orchestration that goes into planning an alfresco celebration. Kristine King Events offers tips on how to pull off a flawless outdoor reception!
1. Keep your guests comfort top of mind
- Provide beverages to keep everyone hydrated throughout the evening. We suggest having a self-service beverage station with fruit infused water, ice tea’s and lemonade to keep everyone cool and feeling refreshed.
- During those hot summer months keeping your guests cool is key. A neat idea for your ceremony is making wedding programs into fans. This not only provides them information about your wedding day but it also provides an alternative to keeping cool. For the reception, keep your area cooled with ceiling fans or portable air conditioning units
- Protect your guests from the sun by coordinating your ceremony to be in a more shaded location and not in the direction of the sun. A suggesting for the ceremony is to provide parasols (umbrellas) for guests to pick up as needed to protect themselves and also assemble large patio umbrellas throughout the ceremony seating area. For the reception, make sure that your area is tented or has some type of covering.
2. Have a back up plan
Always have a plan B or back up plan. In case there is a threat for inclimate weather we suggest having your back up plan in place with your venue location and all of your vendors. Also, decide on a “call time” when the final decision will be made to execute your plan B, which should roughly take place 4-5 hours before the ceremony starts. This gives all vendors adequate time to relocate any equipment, and the opportunity to update your guests.
3. Plan your lighting
To help guests see and to set the mood plan what lighting arrangements fit your theme. Consider lighting options such as candles, lanterns, torches, chandelier lighting in your tent, add paper lanterns, pinspot lighting, twinkling lights or stately chandeliers. Light up surrounding walkways for easy access to the bathrooms. A few fun examples are adding luminaries and small lights along the paths or Mason jars with tea lights hanging from nearby tree branches. It is important to plan your lighting around both daylight and evening conditions. Although you may start in daylight, dusk will fall and you will need to have lighting for the remainder of your evening.
- Remember to: Have an electrician check out the space before lighting up your tent. Not only will he be able to make sure you pass all the proper inspection laws, but he should also be able to make recommendations as to whether you'll need to rent an extra generator and how to safely secure your lighting fixtures.
4. Create a relaxing space
Whether you've chosen a grand, grassy lawn or a small backyard, pick an area and make it more inviting with lounge furniture and lots of pillows. If you don't have room to bring in couches and plush chairs, arrange your dining area with smaller 4-6 person reception tables instead of larger 8-10 person tables to create a more intimate look and feel.
- Decorating the tent is also a way to create a more intimate feel. Drape fabric from the tent's ceiling to soften the space or to create sectioned off “rooms.” Hang pomanders from the frame's cross sections, and add other details to welcome guests and enhance your wedding's unique design. Cozy it up! The more you bring into your tent, the warmer it will feel. Colored linens, vibrant up- lighting and quirky knickknacks set a great vibe.
5. Keep the bugs at bay
We suggest placing citronella candles throughout the space and also providing bug spray for your guests to use at their will. To control insects on your wedding day, think about having your site sprayed by an exterminator two days beforehand. You don’t want to observe your guests swatting or complaining about the bugs.
If there aren't any restrooms nearby or just a few you can consider renting them. You can find luxury portable restrooms with amenities like in—room music, granite countertops and air conditioning or heaters depending on the season easily these days. Remember to give guests something to talk about with a few subtle extras like luxe soaps, fresh flowers and monogrammed towels. The general rule of thumb is to have one bathroom or stall for every 35 guests. This way, guests will spend less time standing in line and more time partying on the dance floor!
7. Get your permits
It is important to ensure you have all your permits before the big day. When planning outdoor weddings at your home, consult with your local homeowner’s association for rules and regulations, and send a nice note to your neighbors to inform them of your event. Taking these precautions, keeps the local authorities away and the possibility of your event ending early. If you choose to have your event in a local governmental park, make sure that you have obtained the required permits, and that you are aware of any noise ordinances that you must obey.
8. Creating the menu
Having an outdoor wedding gives you flexibility to get creative with your menu. Under a tent you might throw a New England clambake, a spicy Southern barbecue or even a Hawaiian pig roast. You can get super creative for an outdoor event so have fun planning the menu!
- When using dairy or egg products, make sure that you are able to keep them cool, or use alternative food choices. You don’t want to run the risk of the heat jeopardizing the integrity of your meal and your guests getting sick.
- Regardless what food appears on your menu, plan to have plenty of cold water and refreshing nonalcoholic drinks on hand—especially if the weather is hot and humid.
9. Pitching a tent
Whether you're going for formal or casual, tents come in all shapes, sizes and materials. Work with your local rental company to figure out what style fits your vision (and the venue's spatial constraints). And make sure you choose a tent that works on your surface—pavement, grass, sand ect. It is also important to weatherproof your tent. For a summer wedding, bring in fans and portable air conditioning units.You may also want to add floor surfaces (to correct uneven ground) and wall panels (to protect against wind or rain).
We hope that our tips were helpful and will assist you in planning your outdoor summer wedding!