The Ultimate Guide to Planning an Outdoor Ceremony

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Getting married is a huge commitment for any couple. Over the years, you’ve been through the ups and downs, and now it’s time to tie the knot. One of the most exciting parts of getting married is planning the wedding. There are endless directions you can take to a wedding. You can have an extravagant wedding overseas, or elope at a courthouse. You can have an intimate ceremony at a church with close family, or you can have a big beautiful ceremony outdoors, the choice is yours. Oftentimes the excitement of planning a wedding can come with a lot of stress too, just remember that you are marrying the love of your life and will forever remember this day.

outdoor wedding venue

When planning your wedding, the first decision you will likely need to make is on the venue. For winter weddings, this usually means an indoor venue, but for weddings during Spring, Fall, or Summer, outdoor weddings are extremely popular. Planning an outdoor wedding will come with a lot of responsibility and crucial decisions. Let’s examine what needs to be done to plan an outdoor ceremony for your special day.  

Hire a Wedding Planner

wedding budget planning
Photo by Lum3n

Hiring a wedding planner should be the first thing you do if you want to plan a stress-free wedding. These professionals will help you plan the perfect ceremony and will take a lot of the responsibility off of your plate. Wedding planners know the ins and outs of what needs to be accomplished and they should be your go-to’s for anything and everything when planning your big day. A good wedding planner will help you from the start of the process through the day of the wedding, and even beyond. In a way, they’ll become your temporary best friend or even your lifeline. Wedding planners will make the wedding process seem seamless and will help in any way to make the journey more enjoyable for you. They will be there to give advice and tips on how to successfully have an outdoor wedding and will help you budget your finances. Do remember that even though wedding planners are the experts, this is still your wedding. If you don’t like a certain recommendation or idea they have, speak up. A wedding is a huge expense and you wouldn’t want to include something just because your wedding planner wants to. 

Figure out a Financial Plan

Before getting any further in the wedding planning process, it would be a good idea to figure out how you want to pay for the wedding. It is no secret that weddings can cost a pretty penny. Depending on where you live, the average wedding could cost you between $15,000 and $30,000. Every decision you make moving forward will directly impact how much your wedding will cost. Knowing the ballpark cost as well as having an idea as to how you will pay for everything will help keep you from putting yourself in massive debt just for a wedding.

As you have these financial discussions with your partner it would be wise to figure out exactly what you can afford out of pocket, and what you might need to lean on outside help for. Outside assistance would be any money you gain from friends and family, a loan, or other financial product.

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Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom

As you and your partner discuss finances with the wedding planner, consider breaking out costs in regards to how you will purchase them. Here is a list to help get you started:

Paying out of pocket

There will be some things that you and your partner can afford right away. The more you budget ahead of time, the more you will be able to buy out of pocket. Some smaller outdoor wedding costs that you and your partner should be able to afford are:

  • Tables and chairs rentals
  • Smaller decorations
  • Tent rentals
  • Invitations and table markers
  • DJ or Live Band
  • Wedding cake or other dessert options

Out-of-pocket expenses will add up fast, so make sure you list out everything you purchase.

Using a loan

After you cover out-of-pocket expenses, now is the time to tackle the higher-cost purchases. As mentioned, you likely will need to lean on an outside financial resource to be able to afford the wedding. This most often will come in the form of a fixed-rate personal loan that can be used for wedding expenses. Some larger expenses that a loan can help cover are:

  • Venue
  • Wedding Dress
  • Catering
  • Open Bar
  • Photographer

These are typically the most crucial aspects of the wedding. Selecting things like the perfect venue, or what food to serve will be costly, but it is also one of the most fun aspects of planning your big day.

Leaning on loved ones

Finally, you can lean on your loved ones to help pay for part of the wedding. Traditionally, the bride’s family handled most of the wedding costs, but today, the costs are more evenly distributed. If your bank account is getting a bit lower than you’d like, you can take it to your family and friends for smaller purchases. Some things they can help with are:

When you borrow money from a family member or friend, ensure that you two agree on the terms laid out. Mixing money with your loved ones can be a slippery slope to go down if you don’t formalize the process. While it may seem unnecessary, using something like a legal personal loan agreement document to guide your process could be helpful.

Plan for the Season

It’s vital to communicate your decision to your wedding party and guests as soon as you know when the wedding will be. This is because, depending on the time of year you hold your wedding ceremony, the guests will want to ensure they are well prepared. Since it’s going to be outdoors, different guests may need different things, depending on the season. If you choose summer, some people might need sunscreen available if they have fair skin, or bug spray if bugs are an issue. If you decide on Fall or Spring, cooler weather could put a damper on things if heat is not accommodated.

The season will impact things like the dress code. Dresses and tuxedos can be hot in the summer, so maybe going for a more casual look is something you consider if you have a summer wedding. In the winter, accessories like dress gloves, or traditional hats could be implemented to account for the cold.

Other things to consider when it comes to the season are, how muddy the ground might get, how weather can impact travel, and how lighting might impact pictures. It would be a good idea to visit the venue during the actual time of year you plan to get married so you can get accustomed to how the seasons impact the space.

Hire the Perfect Photographer

The biggest reason outdoor weddings are becoming more popular is due to the scenic views. No matter where the wedding is, the outdoors will make it more beautiful and romantic. It’s best to choose the best photographer that will capture the magic. Photographers have a big job at outdoor weddings. They must capture the perfect angles and need to time everything perfectly due to the sun and shadows. They must be cognizant of their surroundings and need to know when to zoom in to encompass the scenic background.

Hiring a photographer can be expensive, and you are putting a lot of trust in them to perfectly capture your greatest day.

Have a Backup in Case of Bad Weather

Having a backup plan for your wedding ceremony is extremely important, especially if you have an outdoor ceremony. You cannot control mother nature, and your big day may be a washout due to inclement weather. While it’s not impossible, moving your wedding to the last minute can be detrimental and expensive to you and your guests. In certain circumstances, it’s honestly impossible to do this effectively. Your best shot is to have a backup plan. It’s best to have another venue in mind by chance you may need to use it. This could be a nearby indoor venue or an additional outdoor venue that will ensure to keep you and your wedding party/guests safe.


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