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Professional Tips to Ensure a Snafu-Free Outdoor Wedding

Industry experts offer up their advice for managing Mother Nature on your big day.
Sara Hubbard

Hosting weddings al fresco has become more and more common with pandemic safety concerns bringing celebrations outside. While there is little that is more romantic than a barefoot beach wedding or a woodland nuptials, the uncontrollable and often unpredictable forces of nature can quickly turn the perfect day to ruin. Not to fear, though, as we’ve compiled the best advice from wedding pros to keep everything under control. From seating charts to venue, take a scroll down to find the best ways to mitigate disaster when celebrating lifelong love in the great outdoors.

A Luxe Backyard Fete

A wedding right in your own backyard can make for an intimate, cozy experience. Sure, it may not necessarily have the glitz and glamour of a five-star hotel, but there is nothing like saying “I do” at you or your parents’ home. And who’s to say you can’t make an at-home affair just as amazing as one at a venue? “Don't approach it like ‘my backyard wedding.’ Think of it as ‘I am building my own venue,’” says Ashley Kuehnel of Midwestern Bride. “Once you've changed your mindset you will see more of the details that need to be handled like parking, alerting neighbors, contemplating bathrooms and generators, and reminding yourself that when it's your property it's your responsibility.”

Enlist the Help of Professionals

When it comes to outdoor weddings, a DIY approach probably isn’t the best option. There are many moving parts involved in any wedding, but one held outside brings its own unique challenges. Be sure to have a team of vendors who know outdoor events like the back of their hands. "Hire a seasoned planner when hosting an outdoor wedding. Navigating all the details involved with tent rentals to restrooms is quite a feat. The best successes I have seen have been implemented by a professional," says Sally Vander Wyst of Milwaukee Flower Co.

Take Deeps Breaths

The only guarantee in an outdoor wedding is unpredictability. But even if the worst-case scenario ends up coming true, remember that the spirit of the day is rooted in love. Your guests just want to see you happy, and any collateral damage just makes for a good story for the future! “Be flexible. Make a plan and know that some things will change. At the end of the day, the celebration is about two people becoming a new family, and no matter the route, the end of the day always means that you're married!” says David Porto of Blue Plate Catering.

Always Have a Back-up Plan
“Outdoor weddings require double the planning because you must plan for two events: one with rain and one without rain. A very wise and seasoned planner once told me ‘I tell all my couples that Plan A is your rain plan and Plan B is your good weather plan.’ As a specialty rentals company, we emphasize this to all of our outdoor wedding clients in order for them, their guests, and our rentals to have a smooth experience regardless of the weather. Also, the weather forecaster can be incorrect so always have, as part of your good-weather plan, sufficient help onsite in order to quickly move things to covered areas should unpredicted inclement weather occur,” says Jan Oelke of Relics Rentals.

Make it an Option to Move the Festivities Indoors

Sometimes, keeping your whole celebration outdoors just isn’t in the cards. If the weather suddenly turns, instead of having to send everybody home or leave them to dance in the rain, make sure to have an indoor option at your disposal. “Planning outdoor events can be stressful. A way to reduce that stress is to work with a venue that can provide an interior back up space in the weather is not to your liking. Monona Terrace has a beautiful outdoor spaces and magnificent indoor spaces as well to cover you in case Mother Nature is not on your side for your special day. Be sure to ask your venue contact what options exist for you before booking,” says Breanne Chase of Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.

It's All About Timing

Take guests comfort into consideration when planning your wedding day timeline. It's important to choose a ceremony time where the sun is low on the horizon, so it's not directly in the eyes of your guests, and also to avoid the dreaded squinting photos. O & B Photo Co. suggests having your ceremony close to sunrise or within three hours of sunset. "At those times, the sun will be at it's softest and most flattering glowy self. The closer to mid-day, the higher the sun which mean more shadows, harsh light and squinting!"

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