Would you believe there's more to worry about when planning an outdoor day than whether or not it rains? I know I know, I'm not trying to stress you out and add MORE to your planning plate, but these are all things you want to be aware of and they are all easily manageable. Living on the cape for the past year, I've seen my fair share of beach and outdoor ceremonies and I have learned it IS possible to plan your ceremony in a way that keeps your guests comfortable AND allows for stunning pictures to be captured in the process - rain or shine. These tips can be applied to all types of outdoor ceremonies so be sure to read on!
1. Have a Beautiful Plan B
Sure this is the number one thing EVERYONE tells you, so I wanted to knock it off the list right away. Believe me I feel for you on this one. My whole life I've dreamt of having an outdoor ceremony (When I was 10 I even asked my childhood Catholic Priest if he'd make an exception and marry someone outside). It stresses me out even now to think it could rain on my wedding day, and I'm not even engaged! The best way to curb the stress? Make sure you have a beautiful plan B at the venue and you'll end up being happy either way. Even a gorgeous tent like above is the perfect option and will be nice in rain OR shine!
2. Plan for the Light
Of course this portion is most important to me as a photographer. Chances are, if you like my photographs, it's because you like that soft natural light that I strive for. Every. Time. The absolute best time of day to ensure you don't have harsh dark shadows under your eyes is to plan your ceremony to be about two hours before sunset. In addition, you're going to want to be backlit while you're at the alter. The best way to plan for this is to visit the venue a year in advance on a sunny day to see exactly where the sun will be. Moving the angle of the ceremony by 10 degrees might prevent that light from being directly in your guests eyes! No way to bump your ceremony later? Try providing some shade at the alter and/or for your guests!
3. Keep Guests Comfortable
I'm going to have to bullet this section because there are soooo many things to think about here. All of these suggestions are based on the time of year, location, and what kind of weather you can expect.
Give them a place to sit - This may be obvious for some, but believe it or not I've seen weddings not provide enough (or any) seating for the guests. You want to make sure Grandma can make it through!
Keep guests cool - Getting married on the beach at the Wychmere or is your wedding date historically scorching? Perhaps you should provide a cool glass of lemonade or ice tea (or both!) for them to enjoy at their seat during the ceremony. Or maybe you provide shade (see above) or individual fans for the ladies AND gentleman (I'm not sure what a "manly fan" looks like... but I digress).
Keep guests warm - Think the opposite of above. Provide cozy pashminas or even cute earmuffs to keep guests warm if the temperatures could drop!
Prepare for sprinkles - I'll never forget the Saturday I was enjoying a nice sunny Newbury Street shopping day and the skies opened up out of no where. It is ALWAYS a good idea to have matching umbrellas available for guests. Coming from a photographer's point of view, there's nothing worse than a hodgepodge of colorful umbrellas taking away from your decor when that scattered shower scatters its way to you.
4. Have the Officiant Ask Everyone to STAND Before Pronouncing You
Ok this is for all ceremonies, not just outdoors, but I've seen it happen so many times. Ask your officiant to have everyone to stand before pronouncing you husband and wife! You just kissed, you're excitedly walking down the aisle... and everyone is... sitting? It's not that they don't WANT to stand for you it's that no one told them it was ok!
5. Wind and Bug Proof Your Venue
Coming from upstate New York, it's not that I didn't have to deal with wind there.. but my goodness it's NOTHING compared to the wind on the Cape and even in Boston. Be sure to check with your venue to see if there's any way to minimize wind. Also is your venue a little buggy? It might be worth it to have it sprayed a few days prior to the big event to allow the chemical smell to dissipate a bit.
6. Trust Your Vendors in Regards to The Elements
Your florist knows what flowers will wilt in the heat and believe it or not, even what natural elements they could add will deter bugs and bees. Your baker knows if it's going to be a hot day, buttercream mayyyy not be the best option. The point is, your vendors have done this quite a few times and they know what to expect. Trust them to help you make your day shine! (But not your face - that's your makeup artist's job :-P)
I hope that was helpful! If you have any specific questions about your venue or ceremony, leave them below and I will get back to you ASAP! :)