When my sister decided that she wanted an outdoor wedding, one in the forest have you, I was thrilled at the idea. There were however many things that we needed to address and consider before the big day and I wanted to share all of them with you today!
When planning an outdoor wedding there are so many variables. There are a lot of thing you need to prepare for and plan.
The idea of saying your vows under a gorgeous sky, whether on the beach, in the mountains, or even a dessert location is so very dreamy. I know when my sister said she wanted to get married on our mountain property outside Bryce Canyon National Park, there were some mixed feelings.
First of all, there was no power, water, or toilet services on the property. We were about 1 mile from civilization. There was no good place for parking, and we knew that would be an issue as well.
All these things were things we needed to address, but we were excited about the idea of creating a magical woodland themed wedding in the forest.
Before I dive into it all, I wanted to show you a list of possible things you may have to deal with when planning an outdoor wedding. If you want to see the how my sisters outdoor woodland themed wedding turned out click here!
What you may need to worry about with an outdoor wedding:
- is it safe?
- backup location
- lack of water
- accessibility and transportation
- time of year
- time of day
- consider using tents or other overhead protection
- environmental considerations
Lets talk about some of the wedding planning concerns:
- Is it safe?
This was our biggest question. Did we chose an area that was free of obvious dangers such as fast moving rivers, cliffs, dangerous animals, and more. We made sure that it was an area that kids could also enjoy and parents would not worry about them. Think about your guests when planning your outdoor wedding.
Will the area be appropriate for those attending.
Make sure that it is handicap accessible if that is an area of concern for your family.
The first one is a big one. Weather. Before you plan an outdoor wedding, you will want to consider what the weather will be like. I know we cannot know for sure what the weather will be that far out, but try to pick a time of year when you usually have more dependable and pleasant weather.
It was our turn to guide my sister on this a bit. We have snow until May, and the rainy monsoon weather starts up in July, so her best time was going to be in June. This was also good because there was one week where the hotel we owned was not as busy, which meant we could easily get rooms for the guests.
- Have a Backup Location
I find this to be an important addition to an outdoor wedding plan. In case of inclement weather, we chose to use our large event space as a backup. It was still a really nice place, but she had her heart set on an outdoor location and we were going to do it!
We even added a sentence on the invitation that stated that the change of venue may happen if the weather was bad. Since the backup location was not far from the outdoor location, this would have been an easy change if needed.
- Running Water
There are so many things you need to consider before planning an outdoor wedding. This one is one of the biggest ones. Running water.
I know sometimes we may take for granted that water is just there, but it’s not. We were about a mile from running water. We needed to have a plan. When you have 80-100 guests who all travel to a destination wedding and that wedding is in the forest, you need to make sure you address these things to make their stay more enjoyable and comfortable.
Since there was no running water, we had to make sure that we brought some water jugs, for washing up(for the caterers) plenty of bottled water as well as some pretty glass dispensers with water as well. You need to think about what your guests might need. Since the wedding and its activities lasted about 3 hours, we needed to make sure we had enough for that time.
This also meant that the guests had no where to wash their hands so a cute little hand washing station would be a great addition too.
This was a big one! We were far enough from civilization that it was not convenient for guests to run over to the hotel and use the restrooms.
So what this meant was port-a-potties. We had a company come and deliver one the day before. We hid it in a grove of trees far enough away from the main area where people could find some privacy.
They had cute signs, and we tried to dress them up a bit. We made sure that they were clean and fresh. Having toilets was a necessary evil . You cannot expect your wedding guests to hang out for 3 hours eating, drinking and having a good time without having the option of a restroom.
We were so glad we ended up having one there, especially for the little kids that were there.
In addition to no running water, we didn’t have electricity either. This left us with one solid option. A generator. We had one, and it was a pretty quiet one, so we took it as far out into the woods as possible with an extension cord and only used it when we absolutely needed it, like for the DJ and lights.
There were lights strung int he trees over the space where we had the ceremony and it looked amazing.
We didn’t use the electricity a ton, but it was so nice knowing we had it in case we needed it.
This is a BIG ONE. There were so many things to plan for.
First of all, me, my mom, and some aunts were the caterers. Yes, we were doing this wedding on a budget. If you hire a caterer, they usually have ways of taking care of outdoor weddings.
We were lucky enough to have a catering trailer from out hotel business and we parked in out of the way of the wedding venue, but close enough to be accessible.
It was important to make sure that what we served would be a good option outdoors. We had some portable warming ovens that we used to keep the meats hot. We also had some chafing dishes that we used to keep the food hot while being served.
The key to all of this was making sure we had a way to keep the cold foods cold and the hot foods hot. We had coolers to keep the cold food cold and portable warmers for the hot food.
- Accessibility and Transportation
Since we were holding the wedding on private land, about a mile and a half from the resort, we needed to make sure the location was accessible.
We also needed to make sure that we had transportation available for the guests since there was limited parking out in the forest. We enlisted a few family members to transport people on our hotel gold carts. They were driven out and brought back. Some chose to walk back since the weather and scenery was so beautiful.
You have to make sure to take into account that some will try driving out there themselves. You really want to be prepared for all scenarios. We have the guests all this information in their hotel rooms and emailed it to them as well. It had all the ins and outs of what would be taking place and how they would be getting there.
It all worked out pretty great!
This goes along with the transportation. Make sure to assess the parking situation and make sure there will be ample amount of parking for the guests. If, like us, you have a location that is remote, make sure to provide some sort of transportation to the location.
- Time of Year
Like I said in the weather section, this is an important one as well. We had a pretty narrow window as to when the perfect time to hold an outdoor wedding would be. After the snow, and before the monsoon rains in July, which left June as the ideal time. August though October would also be a lovely time in our area especially since we have gorgeous changing leaves and crisp autumn air.
We just wanted to eliminate having to use our backup location if at all possible. There will always be unexpected events, weather, and such, we just wanted to make sure we controlled as much as we could.
- Time of Day
Depending on where you are holding your outdoor wedding you will want to make sure to consider the time of day. Pick a time when the bugs are at a minimum, when the wind is at its calmest and the heat of the day isn’t scorching you. What about a beach wedding. You will want to choose a time when the tide is low tide or high tide depending on what you want.
Also take into consideration the photography. If you choose the middle of the day, you will have very different photos from an evening wedding. 5 or 6 in the afternoon is ideal for photography. It can be difficult to choose the perfect time if you are dealing with an outdoor venue, or if there are other factors at play. Just make sure your photographer is aware of the time and can compensate for full sun and harsh lines.
Since my sisters wedding was in the forest, the time of day was difficult to choose. We had to make sure we chose a time that was proven less buggy, but also was convenient for everyone as well as good for photos. Since there were so many trees, the light was always being filtered and there was not a clear shot from the sun. It proved to be difficult but also really pretty.
An evening wedding would also be gorgeous! Imagine the twinkle lights, lanterns and music. There is something entrancing about an evening wedding in the woods.
- Consider overhead protection or event tents
If you are doing the wedding yourself sans wedding coordinator, you may want to consider renting an event tent. This can be a great way to check off a few of your worries with one go. This can prevent any weather problems, since you will have some protection. If you are having it in a hot location, you will want the shade and protection of the tent.
You can also create some DIY ideas of your own if you are very budget minded. We decided to tie some rope to the ends of some dropcloth fabric and create some overhead protection by tying the ropes to the trees. It was a really nice way to add some shade and protection over the food areas without renting a large tent, since we didn’t have room for one anyways.
We also added a space for kids to go that would get them out of the way of the adults
Having a cute teepee and some games gave them a place to escape to and made the wedding a bit more kid friendly.
- Environmental Considerations
The last thing I want to talk about is the specific area you plan to have your outdoor wedding. Whether it is in the middle of the forest, on the beach or on a gold course there are things to consider.
Since ours was the forest, and we graze our cows in this area we had to make sure that they were moved to a different field and could not get back over.
We also paid attention to whether or not there were game trails, animals living in the area and what the rodent situation was like.
One thing we had to pay attention to was the trees. My sisters wedding was nestled in a grove of large ponderosa pine trees. They were beautiful, however the bottom branches had lost all their needles since they weren’t getting much sun and were dead. There were also at about eye level, which was dangerous. We went though and cut off any low hanging branches that could possibly be harmful.
We also cleaned up the underbrush in order to make it easy for people to get around. There was a lot of work put into prepping the area even though it was a natural outdoor area.
Also make sure to clean up the entire area and take out anything you brought in. Also remember to consider confetti and other paper products should not be used unless biodegradable, check out these biodegradable confetti options. Consider using the leaf confetti, where you use a hold punch and cutout confetti from leaves. Theres no need to clean this up!
Creating a memorable outdoor wedding is a lot of work, but it’s also so rewarding. I love outdoor venues. They are so relaxing and tranquil. You can customize the outdoors to suit your style and needs. There are obviously many things you need to take into consideration before planning one though. I hope that I have helped you to address some concerns or items you had never thought about.
These bulleted items are incredibly important. I hope that they help you conquer and create an amazing outdoor wedding for yourself!
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Have a great day!
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