What to Consider Before Planning an Outdoor Wedding

David Tutera, star of WEtv's David Tutera's CELEBrations, sings with praises of weddings held in the great outdoors.

With so many wedding dates set for the warmest months of the year, it's natural to think about holding your celebration outside. The weather tends to be perfectly behaved, the trees and flowers are blooming, and the sun sets later to allow you to party into the night. Depending on your style, there are loads of different natural settings to choose from to suit your dream wedding. Here, some classics to consider.

Plus, get inspired by these 100 beautiful outdoor wedding ceremonies ►

outdoor wedding ceremony
Photo Credit: David Nicholas

Whether island or stateside, beach weddings tend to be destination affairs, with typically smaller guest lists and an intimate, laid-back vibe. When designing a beach wedding, I love to play up the location’s light, airy vibe. A simple, easy-to- do and inexpensive way to decorate is with bamboo poles draped with flowing, gauzy fabric. Oversize lanterns can be placed in the sand to create an aisle. I like to keep colors soft and simple, mostly white with touches of pale green or one exotic shade.

Imagine a long table, set for 75, nestled between rows of vines on a hilltop vineyard. A rustic setting such as this is romantic, intimate and truly swoon-worthy. The surroundings will provide you with a built-in decor that needs little to no additions in order to be perfect, and the open air will lend a lightness to your event that will keep your guests engaged all night long. If you choose to go this route, be sure to make a wine tasting part of your venue scouting, as a tasty vino will surely play a starring role at both your cocktail hour and reception dinner.

Many couples choose to go the route of selecting a location that is meaningful and ultra personal. To this end, a backyard wedding could be the perfect way to go. But backyard doesn’t have to mean low budget, bare bones or casual. Au contraire! Stunning landscaping, a gorgeous altar for your ceremony and an abundance of florals and string lights can turn your childhood home into the wedding destination of your dreams. Just keep in mind that it may take lots of extra décor to truly transport your guests, and all those dancing feet could take a toll on the grass.

One of my favorite approaches for an outdoor wedding is to create an enchanted forest. Try going for the unexpected and have your reception first, followed by a ceremony just as the sun begins to set. Delicate, twinkling “firefly” lights strung throughout will create a magical, fairy-tale feel. A forest wedding won’t allow as much natural sunlight to reach your guests, so even though the days are longer, be sure to stock up on enough lighting for the twilight hours.

Plan B

No matter what setting your choose for your outdoor event, you need to be ready with a backup plan in case the weather is not on your side.

A tent is the most important thing to have on hold, especially if there is no indoor space at your venue large enough to accommodate all of your guests for the ceremony and reception. Most rental companies will allow you to hold a tent until a few days before the event, so that you can monitor the weather. If there is more than a 30% chance of rain, get that tent up!

Be flexible about indoor and outdoor locations. If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony with an indoor reception, be open to moving the whole thing inside and “flipping” the space (from ceremony to reception) during cocktail hour if need be. It may not be exactly what you had envisioned, but it will definitely be better for everyone in the end if the weather is not cooperating.

Have supplies on hand for your guests (or be prepared to purchase them the day before if it looks like you’ll need them). Large golf umbrellas keep guests dry in the rain while they make their way from their cars to the tent and keep friends and family cool and sheltered from the sun at your beachside ceremony.