WEDDINGS: Aiming for outdoors? Be sure to plan ahead

Many couples tie the knot outdoors, as nature can provide an idyllic backdrop on such a special day. In many ways, planning outdoor weddings is similar to planning weddings that take place with a roof overhead and four walls surrounding couples and their guests.

But there are some distinct features of both indoor and outdoor weddings, and couples planning the latter would be wise to consider the following factors before they commit to a location for their ceremony.

LAWS

Laws dictate what can and cannot be done in open spaces, and couples with outdoor locations in mind should confirm local laws and regulations before they commit to a location for their wedding. Research which permits you might need and if there are any rules or restrictions at each location you are considering. The cost of such permits may be negligible, but the rules may restrict what you can do in a given space and how long you can do it. Discuss these rules with each other to determine if the rules are something both of you can live with.

LOCATION

Proximity to your reception venue and the hotel where guests are staying is another factor to consider if you are planning on hosting an outdoor wedding.

A remote location might provide stunning views and privacy, but guests might tire if the ceremony location is far from the hotel and/or reception venue. This should not be too big an issue if the ceremony and reception are held at the same locale, but couples should still look for nearby lodging before booking remote outdoor locations.

WEATHER

Weather is perhaps the biggest factor couples must consider when planning an outdoor wedding. Outdoor weddings are best held during those seasons when the threat of precipitation is insignificant and temperatures are mild, but it’s still necessary to have a backup plan just in case Mother Nature does not want to cooperate. If possible, find an outdoor location that provides access to an indoor ceremony facility in case of inclement weather. If that’s not possible, monitor the forecast as closely as possible and arrange for a tent to be erected should rain start to fall. (Note: The cost of such tents can be considerable, so build this contingency into your budget.) If the forecast is calling for chillier temperatures than you had hoped for, email outof-town guests a few days in advance to remind them to dress warm.

LOGISTICS

No matter how beautiful a backdrop may be, photos of an outdoor ceremony can be compromised. Couples, along with their photographers, should visit the site in the weeks before their weddings to determine arrangements for the ceremony that will guarantee photos are not compromised by sunlight or shade. Facility managers can probably offer advice as to the best places to hold the ceremony and seat guests, but a run-through at the location with your photographer in tow can help ensure your photos come out perfect.

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