Outdoor weddings can be stunning. You might enjoy the light breeze flowing through your hair and soft, diffused lighting for the perfect photos. But you could also get a rainy day, a wave of mosquitos or cold guests. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, logistics can get complicated. After all, you might be planning two ceremonies — one outside and one as a backup. So how do you have an outdoor wedding reception that checks all your boxes and is reliable?
Between venues, decor, outfits, transportation and much more, we’ve got a full list of tips and tricks to help you ace planning an outdoor wedding and reception.
Venue Ideas for Outdoor Weddings
Just because your wedding is outside doesn’t mean the venue is any less critical — it may be even more essential. After all, nature provides your backdrop, and the venue will be in all your photos. An advantage of outdoor ceremonies, though, is they can give you a lot of options for finding unique locations.
Remember that for all outdoor locations, you’ll need to know the venue inside and out. Understand logistics like where you’ll have access to electricity, how close and how nice the restroom facilities are, where guests will park and where your caterers can prepare food. Plan for any extra costs — these may include buying a generator or transporting guests from another location. Considering these aspects before you look at venues will help you avoid problems down the road.
Without further ado, here are a few location ideas.
Add some elegance to your outdoor venue by holding your wedding at a winery. With beautiful scenic backgrounds, exceptional drinks and wide-open areas perfect for holding guests, wineries make an excellent choice. They also give you a fun theme to work around, and you can decorate with wine barrels or bowls of grapes. Merlot makes for a rich wedding color, and a wine-blending ceremony adds a unique touch.
2. The Beach
Many brides dream of a beach wedding. Cool, white sand, a gentle breeze and the coastline behind you as you say your “I Dos” — it’s a lovely scene. But it also comes with a few logistical considerations, like preventing sand from getting everywhere and being prepared for strong winds. If you take the right precautions and follow some practical outdoor wedding tips, however, it can be a truly gorgeous experience.
3. Golf Courses
A golf course is often an underrated spot for weddings. They have perfectly manicured grounds, pretty scenery and accessible facilities. If the bride and groom are fans of the sport, it makes for a great theme, too. This location is a great outdoor wedding idea for summer if you hold your ceremony in the warmer months.
4. Farms and Fields
Want a barnyard wedding or one filled with fresh produce? Try a farm. Holding your ceremony in a barn is a popular option for a rustic theme, but you can also go to less-traditional farms, like orchards and flower farms.
Take photos in between rows of apple trees for a venue that screams “fall wedding,” or say your “I Dos” in front of waves of bright, blossoming tulips. You could also use some of these items in the decor. Try using an overflowing basket of apples as a centerpiece or weaving flowers into garlands to place on tables or drape across the backs of the chairs.
5. The Forest
For a whimsical wedding that feels like it was plucked from a storybook, go for a forest ceremony. You can opt for bohemian-chic decor or something more elegant or natural for your outdoor wedding decoration ideas. You could use mismatched wooden chairs for seating and add candles in mason jars to your tables. There are plenty of options here, but a wedding in the woods gives you a gorgeous and unique ceremony sure to capture everyone’s attention.
6. Botanical Gardens
If you want a wedding lush with life and greenery, a botanical garden is a great way to do it. Many gardens have large open areas for holding events, perfect for a ceremony under the sun or a tent. Incorporate outdoor wedding tent ideas to protect guests from the elements. Clear-roofed tents can create a cool greenhouse vibe when used in gardens. Your decor can be modest and earthy, but you’ll want to incorporate some of that luxurious plant life.
7. A Backyard
If you or someone you know has a large, beautiful backyard, a wedding there can be an excellent and budget-friendly choice. Plus, it might have some special meaning to the couple, like a childhood home. Add this venue to your outdoor wedding reception checklist if you want to make the ceremony more meaningful.
Things to Consider When Planning a Wedding Outdoors
Ceremonies in the great outdoors come with a long list of unique circumstances — most of which don’t factor into indoor weddings. Planning an outdoor wedding and reception is a little trickier since more of it is left to Mother Nature’s whim that day. Consider the following outdoor wedding planning tips as you create your special day.
Think About Your Look in the Weather
A windy day can make it hard to see your beloved groom if your hair is flying in all directions. Make sure your hairdresser and makeup artist know that your ceremony will be outdoors. They can ensure your look is resistant to humidity and wind. They may go for a tight updo with strategic pinning instead of something loose and flowing, and they could use waterproof makeup so you won’t sweat it off or lose it in the rain.
Another crucial part of planning an outdoor wedding reception is your dress. While it’s hard to avoid getting your dress dirty, you can minimize the grime by choosing a more nature-friendly style. A shorter hem and no train are essential factors. Your shoes will also play a part in how smooth the day goes. If your venue involves any grass, dirt or gravel, don’t wear pointy heels. They’ll sink into the ground. Try flats or wedges instead — the wider surface area helps them stay above ground.
Prepare for Your Guests’ Comfort
Depending on your region, the climate and the time of day, you may have several unwanted additions to the event. Thankfully, you can help your guests combat bugs, sun glare and extreme temperatures. A tent with sides can keep bugs out, provide insulation from wind and offer a shaded area. Think about the positioning of your ceremony relating to the sun as well. Your guests shouldn’t be squinting to see you against a harsh glare, for example. You can also include things like:
- Bug spray
- Blankets and space heaters for cold temperatures
- Water for hydration on hot days and fans to improve airflow
Outdoor venues also tend to make it harder to hear, so unless your wedding is particularly small, add a mic to your ceremony, so everyone can understand what you and your officiant are saying.
Make sure your guests know what to expect from the start. Consider adding attire suggestions to your website, so they know how to navigate formalwear in an outdoor setting and what the venue will be like.
Another thing to consider is transportation in large areas. If there will be a lot of walking involved in the ceremony’s location, such as a golf course, consider renting golf carts to help people get there. Older people, pregnant guests and kids might need extra help.
Decor Ideas for an Outdoor Wedding
Whether you’re sticking with classy and elegant theme or using the outdoors as a vehicle for your rustic, country vibe, decor in the outdoors is a little different than in a traditional venue. You have unique options but also some limitations to consider when planning an outdoor wedding and reception. Here are a few outdoor wedding decoration ideas:
- Ceremony backdrops: You have more freedom to experiment with backdrops in outdoor ceremonies than with indoor venues. You can get creative here and use your environment, such as draping fabric over a tree to create an arch. You could also set up a minimalistic wooden arch and weave vines and greenery around it. Curtains are also excellent choices. You can even make one out of flower garlands, letting them cascade behind you.
- Hanging decor: Depending on the environment, you may have many opportunities to hang decorations. Chandeliers look great inside a tent, and light-filled mason jars can add a fairytale feel when hanging from tree branches. Drape greenery all around if you want to embrace the venue’s natural tone. You can even make paper origami figures and hang them from the trees or tent for a whimsical feeling.
- Greenery: Adding plant life is a great way to brighten up the area, and you can create some clever decor with it. Wrap vines around your chairs, put small trees inside your tent or hang garlands over the tables. You can even use garlands as a curtain at the entrance to your tent or venue.
- Lighting: If your reception is also outside, you’ll need to think about lighting once the sun goes down. Even an overcast day will make illumination a necessity under a tent. String lights, lanterns, tented lights and other sources create a warm and cozy environment that will keep everyone dancing well into the night.
- Food: Try turning to your venue for outdoor wedding food ideas. If you have the ceremony at a garden or golf course, you can have snacks that reflect the theme, like a cake with flowers on it or golf-ball-decorated cookies. On a more logistical note, make sure your food is well cared for. Keep a mesh net over it to keep bugs out, and make sure your caterer has a way to keep everything cool if the weather is hot.
- Seating: Similarly, look to your theme if you want to develop seating ideas for an outdoor wedding. If you’re going bohemian, set up some mismatched chairs and lanterns down the aisle. Haybales can drive home a country concept, or you can drape your chairs with fabric or greenery for a more elegant look.
- Games: Make use of your outdoor space and put up some lawn games, like giant Jenga, cornhole and a ring toss. These unique additions are certain to garner attention as the reception gets going.
- Balloons: Use balloons that will wave in the breeze for a more dynamic display. They’re a great idea for lining an outdoor wedding aisle, along with other decoration spots.
When working with a tent, don’t forget to decorate with its unique features in mind. Some impressive designs exist that can completely transform a wedding or reception inside a tent.
Have a Backup Plan
Outdoor weddings need to have a Plan B, but make sure it’s one you will enjoy and not just something you’ll settle for. It may be as simple as moving from the open area on the grass to the event space located on your venue’s property. Other times, it might require more foresight and planning, such as setting up a tent when the weather forecast turns sour.
The most significant threat to your special day is typically rain, but it can vary, of course, depending on the time of year and your location. If the forecast doesn’t call for good weather, be sure to:
- Check the rain policy for your rentals: Some equipment cannot be used if there is a threat of rain or if the ground is wet. Understand what your different vendors require if rain occurs for part of the day but isn’t enough to go to Plan B.
- Know where you’ll go: Does the venue have an indoor area, or will you be renting a tent? Many couples plan to use a tent regardless of the weather, which minimizes any last-minute panic and makes the day more comfortable for everyone.
- Offer assistance to your guests: Give your guests ponchos or towels to help them dry off if they had to trek through the rain.
- Consider rainy-day photos: If you don’t mind getting your dress a little wet, try taking some pictures in the downpour. They can turn out very romantic and unique, such as a kiss under an umbrella. Try a photo where you and your partner gaze lovingly at each other while standing in rain boots, as you hold your dress high off the ground. Rainy-day pictures truly tell the story of your wedding day.
Partner With Peerless Events & Tents for Your Outdoor Wedding
Whether you’re going all out or looking for outdoor wedding ideas on a budget, celebrating your big day in the great outdoors is an excellent opportunity to have a beautiful and memorable event. One way to minimize the stress of an outdoor wedding is to use a tent from the start. A classy event tent allows you to experience the day within a more controlled environment, complete with sidewalls if needed. Our tents are versatile, affordable and incredibly clean.
Aside from the tent, we also carry other equipment you may need for your wedding day, including everything from glassware to seating to food prep. We even help with stages and dance floors, audio-visual equipment, lighting, heating and cooling and many more accessories. Planning an outdoor wedding is no easy task, so let us make it a little easier for you. Browse our catalog today to see what party and tent rentals we can supply for your big day, or contact us at any of our four locations.