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"Embracing Nature: A Quick Guide to Outdoor Wedding Planning"

Updated: Jan 31



Embarking on the journey to plan your dream outdoor wedding? Envision a celebration bathed in the sun's warm glow, caressed by a gentle breeze, and surrounded by the serene beauty of nature! From the unpredictable dance of weather to the understated elegance of casual attire, the family-style feast, and the thoughtful details that carve out your unique love story, welcome to a short guide on crafting a casually elegant outdoor wedding.

 

How to Plan an Outdoor Wedding. Key considerations:


An outdoor wedding journey can either unfold like a magical fairytale with meticulous organization or take a nightmarish turn if preparation lacks due consideration. My first piece of advice? Enlist the expertise of a seasoned wedding planner, especially one well-versed in the intricacies of outdoor weddings. They bring insights that might never cross your mind – but more on that in a moment!


Begin by deciding whether you're opting for a venue or venturing off the beaten path, perhaps exchanging vows on a secluded beach or within the enchanting embrace of a forest. And don't assume that the latter automatically translates to cost savings; there's a myriad of considerations.


Whether you settle on a venue or go off-reservation, the key is to create an outdoor celebration that beckons warmth and joy. Contemplate everything from navigating bug seasons to ensuring suitable toilet facilities. The goal? Craft an event where you revel in the moments rather than being weighed down by stress. While I'm no event planner, I've witnessed enough to recognize the potential pitfalls.



Remember, your outdoor wedding is an extension of your unique style. Keep it casual, embrace the unexpected, and let the natural beauty enhance your special day. Happy planning!




Here are a few common Wedding FAQs


  • Best Month in Seattle: 

    • Choose months with milder weather, like late spring or early fall. You can check Washington's historical weather data here

  • Best Time of Day: 

    • Sunset ceremonies are stunning, and the softer light makes for great photos! Check out sunset times in Washington here

  • Activities-Fun and Games?

    • The best way to keep your guests happy is to get them engaged with each other!

  • What about Facilities?

    • An often neglected issue that deserves thoughtful consideration

  • Cost: 

    • Crafting your budget is a pivotal step. Decide your budget first, then make decisions accordingly. This approach ensures a debt-free celebration and leaves you a happily married camper.

  • Backup Plan for Bad Weather: 

    • Always have a Plan B – whether it's a tent or an indoor space.

  • Wedding Theme: 

    • Let nature inspire you – a garden party or a rustic chic affair could be perfect.

  • Food:

    • What type of food fits your theme, your budget, and the surroundings? Is your event near the beach? Perhaps you want to consider a seafood-forward menu!

  • Outdoor Wedding Attire Considerations

    • Casual elegance is the key.

  • Wedding Day Planner. Do you need one?

    • In the grand symphony of your outdoor celebration, a wedding day planner is the conductor, ensuring that every note is harmonious and every moment is orchestrated to perfection. With their expertise, you can bask in the joy of your special day, knowing that the behind-the-scenes magic is in capable hands.




Activities-Fun and Games

What captivates me about outdoor weddings is their inherent casual vibe. There's an undeniable charm in being amidst people reveling in joy, celebrating love, and, of course, relishing the culinary delights we caterers bring to the table. Yet, as delectable as the offerings may be, the revelry of a party has its limits.



Consider this – instead of, or alongside the traditional dance floor, why not offer your guests the chance to connect, bond, and revel in enjoyable activities? Picture this: as you and your wedding party are captured in memorable photography sessions, your guests are engrossed in a lively game of "tug of war," cornhole, or badminton. 


Seeking inspiration? Wedding Wire is a treasure trove of fantastic ideas here. Another spot to check out for games is Bride.com


For a personalized touch, Etsy.com opens up a world of customized ideas, like the charming cornhole boards featured below. Dive into the possibilities with this quick link: Etsy - Personalized Cornhole Boards.     


Portable Bathroom Facilities - when you gotta go...you gotta go!

One often overlooked yet crucial element is ensuring your guests have access to elegant restroom facilities. Portable bathrooms have come a long way from basic setups. These upscale options provide both comfort and style, seamlessly blending with your outdoor ambiance while offering a touch of luxury. From climate-controlled interiors to chic décor, these facilities ensure your guests' convenience without compromising on the sophistication of your outdoor affair. Consider these portable gems to add a touch of practical elegance to your celebration under the open skies.  cozycoverestroomtrailer.com)


"Crunching Numbers": Indoor VS Outdoor


If you are trying to decide if an outdoor wedding will save you money, here are some quick comparisons between indoor and venue weddings and wilderness weddings:


1. Venue Costs:

  • Outdoor weddings: While some outdoor venues may have lower rental fees, others, incredibly picturesque or exclusive locations, can be more expensive. Public parks or backyard weddings might be most cost-effective.

  • Indoor weddings: Traditional indoor venues often have higher rental costs, especially if they include amenities like ballrooms or historical buildings.


2. Decor Costs:

  • Outdoor weddings: Natural outdoor settings may reduce the need for extensive decorations, potentially saving costs. However, factors like weather conditions may necessitate additional decor investments.

  • Indoor weddings: Indoor venues may require more decorations to create the desired ambiance, contributing to additional costs.

3. Seasonal Considerations:

  • Outdoor weddings: Choosing the right season is crucial. Off-peak seasons might offer cost savings at a venue. However, outdoor events in the wilderness will incur additional expenses.

  • Indoor weddings: Indoor weddings are less dependent on weather conditions and are often more feasible year-round.

4. Rental Expenses:

  • Outdoor weddings: Additional rentals for tents, flooring, and climate control may be necessary, especially in unpredictable weather.

  • Indoor weddings: The venue may already provide essential amenities, potentially reducing the need for extra rentals.

5. Guest Comfort:

  • Outdoor weddings: Ensuring guest comfort in changing weather may require investments in amenities like shade structures, heaters, or fans.

  • Indoor weddings: Climate control is usually built into indoor venues, enhancing guest comfort without the need for additional investments.

6. Catering Considerations:

  • Outdoor weddings: Most outdoor venues will allow you to choose your preferred caterer and adapt your menu to your preferences and surroundings

  • Indoor weddings: Indoor venues may offer a more limited range of catering options if they only offer in-house options, allowing less flexibility. 


Venues

 There are many outdoor destinations a couple can explore when it comes to choosing wedding venues. Orchards, state parks, beaches, farms, or even a friend’s property are possibilities. The cost of each choice will vary greatly depending on many different factors, which, in reality, may conflict with what you have your heart set on. 


You can expect to pay anywhere from nothing to several thousand dollars for an outdoor space. The location, plus the amenities offered, will determine that price. Check your budget against your dream spot and determine what's best for you!


Try to keep the ceremony and reception in the same venue so that you are not paying twice for certain things.


Among the essentials for an outdoor wedding are 

  • outdoor tent rentals, 

  • tables, chairs, 

  • wedding arch, 

  • stage, 

  • photographer/videographer, 

  • bartenders, 

  • music/entertainment. 

  • catering


In Seattle, summers are much more predictable than the rest of the year. Once you get past mid-September, you can expect the unexpected or, should I say, the undesired. You may want to consider a few things as part of your rainy weather backup plan:


Attire - Outdoor Wedding Attire Considerations

Casual elegance is the key. Inform your guests about the outdoor setting so they can dress comfortably and stylishly. Think light fabrics, flowy dresses, and breathable suits. You want everyone to look great while feeling at ease.



Outdoor Wedding Weather Considerations


This is the big one – Weather. It is probably the biggest concern for couples contemplating the idea of an outdoor wedding. Mother Nature can be unpredictable, so it's best to be prepared. In Seattle, summers are much more predictable than the rest of the year. 


Also, consider the time of day – is it a sunny afternoon or a starlit evening? Make sure your guests are comfortable with appropriate attire and seating.

Title: "Letting Nature Take the Spotlight: Communicate your "Outdoor Wedding Vibe" to your guests in advance.


Backup Plan Ideas for Bad Weather:


  1. Venue Selection: Opt for a venue that offers both outdoor and indoor facilities. This way, if the weather takes an unexpected turn, you can seamlessly transition the celebration indoors. Look for venues with charming indoor spaces that align with your wedding aesthetic.

  2. Tent Rentals: Explore the world of stylish tent rentals. Many companies offer elegant and weather-resistant tent options that can be set up quickly. Choose a tent style that complements your wedding theme, whether a classic white tent or something more unique like a clear tent that lets you still enjoy the outdoor views. A word of caution here; Tents can be costly and it is wise to make arrangements early on in your planning.

  3. Catering with Cover: Work with a caterer who can provide mobile food stations or food trucks with built-in coverings. This way, your guests can enjoy delicious bites without worrying about the rain affecting the dining experience.

  4. Seating: Ensure that your seating arrangements are weather-resistant. Opt for chairs and tables that can withstand a sudden downpour. If you have a tent, consider setting up cozy lounge areas with comfortable seating.

  5. Decor: Choose decorations that can withstand rain. Consider waterproof fabrics for tablecloths and seat covers. Utilize potted plants or flowers that can easily be moved indoors if needed.

  6.  Wedding Invitations: To ensure your guests are as prepared as you are for the alfresco celebration, consider preparing them well in advance by including your plans on your invitations. Here is an example:




  1. Communication Plan:  Keep your guests informed about the backup plan. You could even include details about the alternative indoor space or the tent setup in your invitations. Clear communication will alleviate any uncertainties and ensure that your guests know that you have a backup plan.

  2. Vendor Coordination: Coordinate with all your vendors, including the florist, photographer, and entertainment, regarding the backup plan. Ensure they know the alternative arrangements and are equipped to adapt to changes in real-time.

  3. DIY Emergency Kits: Emergency Kits: Create DIY emergency kits for unexpected weather challenges. Include items like umbrellas, blankets, and even stylish rain ponchos for guests. You can also have baskets of bug wipes handy, just in case.




If all else fails... embrace Mother Nature.


As Wedding planner Lindsey Roman beautifully puts it in her blog:


"it rained on my wedding day, and it was the best thing ever."


"They say rain on your wedding day brings good luck. Well, I call that nonsense. It's probably just some well-meaning groom's attempt to pacify his worried bride. But let's face it, when those first raindrops fell on my wedding day, I was a wreck on the inside, desperately clinging to the hope that the rain would magically vanish."


However, Lindsey's story takes an uplifting turn:


"As I sat in the bridal suite, hoping against hope for a break in the clouds, someone handed me a note from my soon-to-be husband, Andrew. Titled 'In Case of Rain,' it contained words that washed away my anxieties. He reminded me that our wedding wasn't about the weather or the perfect setting. It was about us. Marrying my best friend."


Reflecting on the day's events, Lindsey shares:


"The rain persisted, and we had to adjust our plans. No outdoor ceremony in the orchard, but you know what? It didn't matter. We moved it into the barn, the same place we'd dance the night away. And guess what? It was magical. The rain stopped just in time for photos, and in that barn, surrounded by love, I realized how silly I had been to stress over the 'perfect' outcome."


See full story on Linsey's blog


Why hire a Wedding Day Planner?

Embarking on the grand adventure of planning an outdoor wedding? Picture this: a day filled with love, laughter, and the sweet symphony of nature. Now, to ensure your dream celebration unfolds seamlessly, consider enlisting the expertise of a wedding day planner. Let's explore the invaluable role they play in turning your outdoor extravaganza into an unforgettable reality.


  1. Weather Warriors: From sudden rain showers to unexpected bursts of sunshine, they've got your back, armed with contingency plans to keep the celebration on track.

  2. Logistical Magicians: Coordinating an outdoor event involves a multitude of logistics – from vendor coordination to managing the flow of events. A skilled planner ensures that every detail, from the ceremony to the reception, unfolds seamlessly, allowing you to savor every moment stress-free.

  3. Décor Dreamweavers: Transforming an outdoor space into a wedding wonderland requires a keen eye for design. Your planner will work with you to bring your vision to life, ensuring that every corner of your venue reflects the elegance and charm you've always dreamed of.

  4. Problem Solvers Extraordinaire: No celebration is without its hiccups, but a skilled planner knows how to navigate challenges with grace. From unforeseen changes to last-minute adjustments, they'll handle it all, allowing you and your guests to revel in the joy of the day.



Outdoor Wedding Food & Drink Considerations


Now, let's talk about the good stuff – food and drinks. Consider the outdoors-friendly options like BBQ, tacos, or food on sticks (kebabs, anyone?). These choices cater to diverse tastes and add a casual and laid-back vibe to your celebration. An outdoor setting is usually not the place for fine dining. Opt for a buffet as opposed to a seated dinner.


If the heavens open up unexpectedly, one thing that certainly can't get wet is the food. When hiring a caterer for your outdoor celebration, discussing their contingency plans for rain in advance is essential. Here are a few considerations to communicate to your caterer:



  1. Rain-Resistant Setup: Inquire if the caterer has a rain-resistant set up for food service. This might include covered serving areas or creative solutions to keep the dishes dry.

  2. Communication and Flexibility: Ensure clear communication with the caterer about their flexibility in adapting to unexpected weather changes. A seasoned caterer should have experience navigating such scenarios.

  3. Power and water self-sufficient This is very important for food safety and the overall feel of your event.

  4. Cost Considerations: Discuss the caterer's policy regarding additional costs in case of rain. Some caterers may include a rain contingency plan in their standard package, while others might charge an extra fee for additional setup or protective measures.


While we can't control the weather, we can certainly plan for it. When selecting a caterer, make sure they're not just experts in crafting delectable dishes but also adept at handling the unexpected. With the right preparations in place, you can savor your wedding feast without worrying about the rain. Embrace the unpredictability, and let every drop add a note to the symphony of your special day.


And don't forget the bar – refreshing cocktails or a well-stocked beverage station can keep everyone cool and in high spirits.


In conclusion:


As you embark on the enchanting journey of planning your dream outdoor wedding, remember that every element, from the choice of venue to the food on the table, contributes to the symphony of your special day. Crafting a casually elegant outdoor wedding requires thoughtful consideration, and the key to a seamless celebration lies in meticulous planning.


Enlisting the expertise of a seasoned wedding planner can be your secret weapon, ensuring that every detail, from the logistics to the décor, is orchestrated to perfection. Their ability to navigate the unpredictable dance of the outdoors, tackle logistical challenges, and weave a dreamlike ambiance sets the stage for an unforgettable celebration.


Whether you opt for a picturesque venue or venture into the wilderness, communication is key. Inform your guests in advance about the outdoor setting, allowing them to dress comfortably and embrace the casual vibe. Consider backup plans for bad weather, and let the charm of Mother Nature enhance your celebration rather than causing stress.

From the cost considerations of indoor versus outdoor venues to the seasonality of your chosen location, this guide has provided insights into the intricate aspects of planning an outdoor wedding. Remember, it's an extension of your unique style, and embracing the unexpected adds a touch of magic.


As you plan your outdoor dream day, let the stories of those who faced unexpected weather challenges, like Lindsey Roman, inspire you. Sometimes, the most memorable moments arise from adapting to the unexpected. So, whether the sun shines brightly or raindrops fall, focus on the love you're celebrating, and the magic will follow.

In the grand finale of your celebration, turn your attention to the delightful world of food and drinks. Opt for outdoors-friendly options that add a laid-back vibe to your feast, and communicate effectively with your caterer to ensure a seamless dining experience, rain or shine.


Embrace the unpredictability of the outdoors, savor each moment, and let the symphony of your special day resonate with joy, laughter, and the sweet symphony of nature. Happy planning, and may your outdoor wedding be a masterpiece of love and celebration!





               

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