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Love is in the Air

Planning A Fool-Proof Outdoor Wedding


Although you hate to think of it, bad weather is always a potential issue with outdoor weddings. Rain on your wedding day is said to be good luck but that doesn't' mean you and your guests want to stand in it. The good news is that there are things you can do to help cover all the bases during the unpredictable weather of spring and summer. One of the best and least stressful ideas is to go ahead and plan an alternative "bad weather" site. Some outdoor locations also have indoor alternatives so begin by talking to your site of choice and move out from there. Make these plans before you send invitations so you can include a second location "in case of bad weather." Some couples will include a separate "rain card" enclosure with the invitation, which tells what to do and where to go in case of rain. It's also a good idea to include an information number (a good friend's or your parent's voicemail) where you can record information about the day's plans. That way guests can call to find out about any location or time changes due to weather.

Top It Off

No matter what the weather, tents are a major - and wonderful - part of an outdoor wedding. They create an outdoor room that protects from the elements and give you a "frame" for your wedding day decorations. Tents can be pitched on almost any surface — grass, concrete, sand, you name it. Just be sure that you name it ahead of time so the rental company is prepared with the right equipment. You should also be sure that your tent is not interfering with underground power lines, sprinklers, or cables.

While you can't control the temperature outdoors, you can keep you and your guests comfortable by using ceiling fans, cooling systems or space heaters inside the tent. Talk with the tent company to investigate - and plan - a variety of options. Remember that spring weather can be very unpredictable so unusually hot or cold weather is always a possibility.

Creature Comforts

Make sure that your guests have all the necessities nearby. Unless your location has facilities that are easily accessible, consider renting portable toilets and placing them not too far from the activities. Fortunately, portable toilets have made some substantial improvements over the years and many can be fully stocked with flushing water and sinks. Fill them with fresh flowers, hand towels and other special touches and you're all set.

Light Of Your Life

If your wedding or reception is going to stretch into the evening, make sure that you have adequate lighting. Most tents can be equipped with overhead lights, but you can add romantic touches with votive candles and lanterns placed in the tent and hanging outside. Consider lighting that may be needed for safety as well. Be sure that the parking area, bathrooms and pathways are all well lit.

Bug Out

Nothing can be more disruptive at an outdoor wedding than a swarm of irritating mosquitoes on the dance floor or flies hovering over the buffet table. Keep your guests comfortable by doing all you can ahead of time to alleviate this potential pitfall. Find out from the facility manager what they do about bugs. If the site regularly hosts events, this question will have arisen before. If the potential for bugs is high, consider spaying the area ahead of time and using a tent with screening. If not, use citronella candles or special bug lamps in key locations.

Attractive Atmosphere

Borrow your decoration theme from the great outdoors and use plenty of flowers, flickering candles and colors from nature's pallet. If you're using a garden theme, go romantic with loose bouquets of daisies, Queen Anne's lace, cosmos or other wildflowers. Or have some fun by using containers filled with spring grasses or potted plants and mini garden tools. All of which can be taken home by your guests as favors.

Carry the outdoor theme to your food with plenty of fresh ingredients. Drop fresh strawberries and raspberries in the bottom of drink glasses, use fresh herbs to dress up the buffet table floral arrangements and hang baskets of flowers around the tent area.

Tips for Outdoor Wedding and Receptions

Have a backup plan. Ignore the weather forecast and have an inclement weather plan in place - just in case.

Don't get burned. If your wedding takes place outdoors, remember to use sunscreen. Keep some extra sunscreen on hand for your guests too.

Keep cool. Beat the heat by having plenty of water, ice tea, and lemonade on hand. Seek shade under tents, trees, porches and gazebos.

Keep it simple. Take advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds your wedding site and decorate sparingly. Be aware of all decorating rules before rearranging furniture, hanging lights, etc.

Watch the clock. If using a public venue, be aware of scheduling issues and noise ordinances that may affect your event.

Get permission. Be sure to secure all necessary permits well in advance of your wedding. If alcohol is allowed, determine if you need to get a permit to serve it. Find out if there are any areas that are off limits to guests.

Seek help. Confirm that a representative from the venue you are using will be on hand on your wedding day to trouble shoot any unexpected site issues that may arise. If available, consult the site's Event Coordinator as necessary.

Identify your needs. Confirm water, electricity, and all your other set up needs well in advance of your big day. Make sure amenities, such as kitchen use or a dance floor, are available, if needed. Rent any necessary equipment such as tables and chairs.

Count restrooms. Find out how many restrooms are available for your event, where they are located, and if additional ones are needed. Determine the availability of private changing rooms for the bride and groom.

Confirm parking. Make sure there is ample parking space for all guests and that those with special needs have easy access to the wedding or reception site.

Get covered. Determine if your site has insurance coverage or if you need to purchase a special wedding day policy.

Put it in writing. Make sure you have a signed, written contract with everyone you are working with, from the caterer and site administrator to the florist and disc jockey. Review all cancellation and extended hour policies with all vendors before your wedding

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