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6 Things You Need To Prepare For An Awesome Outdoor Wedding or Reception

A beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony at the Texas Discovery Gardens in Downtown Dallas. Image captured by Dallas Wedding Photographer, Sarah Mae.

Outdoor weddings and receptions are becoming increasingly popular due to their natural beauty and versatility. As a wedding photographer, there's nothing I love more than capturing a beautiful wedding ceremony in nature, but anytime you hold an event outdoors there are certain elements that are outside your control. To ensure you and your guests have a good time no matter what the elements bring here are six tips for a successful outdoor wedding or reception:

1- Have a "Plan B" (in case of bad weather): While outdoor weddings can be beautiful, they are also subject to the elements. Make sure to have a backup plan in case of bad weather, such as renting a tent or ensuring an indoor space is available at your venue.

In the summer it is especially necessary to have waters available for your guests. Take a look at this water bottle provided at a beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony at the Texas Discovery Gardens in Downtown Dallas. Image captured by Dallas Wedding Photographer, Sarah Mae.

2- Plan for the heat or lack of it: While late Summer/ Early Fall is definitely the most popular time to hold an outdoor wedding/reception if you are unable to book a venue during this time make sure to have a plan for the elements you will have to face:

-For windy weather plan on having weights for items that can blow away, and covers for the food;

-For hot weather I'd suggest providing fans or misters and extra waters as wedding favors and tents up for additional shade to keep your guests cool;

-For cold weather I'd suggest having heaters or open fires for your guests to warm up at and provide hand warmers or light throw blankets as wedding favors

Broken heels are the last thing you want at an outdoor wedding, In this picture you see a cutely designed sign depicting where outdoor wedding guests can find heel protectors so their shoes don't sink into the turf while they're walking around. Image captured by Dallas Wedding Photographer, Sarah Mae.

3- Think about your guests' comfort: As you're narrowing down your prospective venues make sure the location is easily accessible for guests and has all the necessary amenities. You don't want to be the wedding couple that has half their guests gone before the cake is even cut because there is no restroom onsite. Also, while considering your guests' comfort think about how it will feel walking around the venue in your wedding shoes. If the grounds are primarily grass then consider having heel protectors available for your guests at the sign-in table, or think about gifting heel protectors to the members of your wedding party so they can walk around easily on your wedding day.

A useful wedding favor is the best kind of wedding favor. In this picture you see insect repelling bracelets that the bride and groom have prepared for all the guests attending their outdoor wedding ceremony at Texas Discovery Gardens  in Dallas, TX. Image captured by Dallas Wedding Photographer, Sarah Mae.

4-Keep the Bugs at Bay: This may or may not come as a big shock to you, but having an outdoor Texas Wedding is going to come with some element of bugs. ESPECIALLY if your wedding is in the summer. Make sure to ask your prospective venue what measures they take to keep June Bugs, mosquitos, etc at bay. If your venue doesn't already provide mosquito and June bug repellents, protect your guests by inserting mosquito repellent candles around the reception. Nowadays you can buy them in a variety of scents or make some with some pretty floating citrus and basil. You can even provide bug repellent bracelets as wedding favors as well.

Proper lighting is the requirement for good wedding photography. In this picture you will find sting lights hung up between the trees of this Outdoor Wedding Reception held at the backyard of Mars Hill Wedding Venue. Image captured by Dallas Wedding Photographer, Sarah Mae.

5- Preplan Your Lighting: Proper lighting is critical for an outdoor wedding or reception. Once the sun sets, if there are not ambient lights around the venue your guests will not be able to stay very long and it will be difficult for your photographer to capture quality images. Consider string lights, lanterns, or other lighting options that will create the right ambiance for your event.

Two wedding cakes are on full display at this outdoor backyard wedding reception at Mars Hill Venue! Image captured by Dallas Wedding Photographer, Sarah Mae.

6-Protect your arrangements (and the cake!): I once photographed a reception where the cake was placed near some floor-to-ceiling windows. The AC was on, but because the cake was constantly being hit by the suns' rays the frosting and fondant started to melt before it was time to cut the cake. Luckily, I saw what was happening and alerted the catering staff and wedding planner who acted quickly to hold the cake up while the bride and groom cut the cake, but it was almost a catastrophe. Don't let this happen to you. Instead, make sure your cake is placed in the shade. If possible, make sure any flower arrangements you have are also placed in the shade. You can also insert your flowers in glass vases with ice (the ice will help keep your flowers from wilting too quickly. If you can keep your cake and floral arrangements in a cooler or fridge before you need them that will help them to last longer too.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure that your outdoor wedding or reception will be beautiful, memorable, and most importantly, successful. Remember to have a backup plan and make sure that you are prepared for the elements including lighting, a plan to repel insects, and ways to ensure your guests' comfort. If you have any questions or would like additional help in planning your wedding (outdoors or indoors), feel free to reach out to me via my contact form!

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