Congratulations, you’ve decided on an outdoor wedding –   garden weddings are IN!

Outdoor garden settings (whether at your home or a public park) offer one of the most romantic and sensual locations for celebrating your special day. Remember to keep it simple and elegant.

Whichever outdoor wedding location you choose, be sure to prepare for the unexpected and follow these tips and leave your wedding guests in awe.

A backup plan is a must!.  What will you do if it rains?.  The perfect outdoor wedding location has an indoor location nearby – just in case.

Many brides and grooms choose to have their ceremony outside and their wedding reception inside.  In a flash, tables can be quickly moved to the back of the room during the ceremony.  If your wedding reception is to take place outside too, make sure you have a shaded, or warmed space for guests to celebrate.

Consider hiring a marquee and make sure it is sturdy so it won’t flip over, and that it has thick and weighted sides.

Be considerate of the weather and your guests.  What will the weather be like at the time of day and month of the year of your outdoor wedding.  Make sure you let your guests know that your wedding will be outdoors, by having a printed insert in the wedding invitations, so they will come dressed accordingly. 

For hot weather, have your ushers or groomsmen pass around ice-cold bottles of water to guests as they are seated.  For something different, print your wedding program on a fan so that guests may cool themselves. Consider renting large electric fans and/or a tent to shade them from the sun and don’t forget to have plenty of sunscreen on hand.  For cold weather, hire some outdoor heaters.

If you are planning an outdoor wedding in the summer months, wear a light wedding dress so that you do not overheat and sweat unnecessarily… not very attractive in wedding photographs.  If your wedding dress has a train, be sure to consider what the ground you will be walking over is like.  Will the grass stain your long train green?.   Using an aisle runner or red carpet will help, but make sure it is secured properly so someone doesn’t trip on it,  or during windy times it doesn’t come loose.

Tell your hairstylist that you’ll be having an outdoor wedding so they can work with you to plan a style that works for outdoors. The men in the wedding party can use pomade, wax or other styling products with firm hold.

Consult a professional wedding makeup artist and your wedding photographer about your makeup plans.  Shimmer powder if applied too liberally, and photographed in sunlight, can produce  some glare in your photographs. Use makeup that holds up nicely, even if you do sweat (or “glow” ) a little.  You want your makeup to hold up well during the outdoor sunlit ceremony, and through the reception, without looking caked on or streaky.

If your location is slightly windy, select a veil that can be secured behind your head before you walk down the aisle … or don’t wear one at all!.  You do not want your veil floating in front of your face and moving about during the ceremony… instead consider an elaborate headpiece.  A bride, bridesmaid, officiate or groom re-adjusting a veil during the ceremony does not make for an elegant wedding video memoir.   Avoid light fabrics like chiffons and china silks in your dress and the bridesmaid dresses.

Will everyone be able to hear you?.  Hiring a sound system with clip microphoness for the bride, groom and officiant will ensure everyone hears your special wedding vows.  Ask your DJ or band to help you arrange this.

The best thing about a garden wedding is the natural beauty around you.  Visit the site a week before your wedding to make sure the grass is mown, the ground raked, and the flowers are in full bloom.   If your wedding is in a public park, you may want to ask the groomsmen, family or friends to do this the morning of your ceremony.  During the autumn and winter months,  you may want to supplement the flowers with some potted bulbs from a florist.   You may also want to hire an arch or trellis to focus the ceremony and frame on the bride and groom as you say your wedding vows.  You can drape strings of lights or lanterns in the trees for a little extra sparkle.

Make sure your wedding caterer has experience planning outdoor weddings to ensure that all food supplied will keep well outdoors in the heat. Avoid items like mayonnaise salads, seafood or dishes which must be served cold.

Keep your guests refreshed…alcohol is dehydrating.  Think about serving a variety of lemonades, teas and punches and be sure to have plenty of ice and water around as well. For a fancy cocktail, why not serve a classic mint julep or a mojito to cool your guests.

For those pesky flying bugs,  place citronella candles or a bug zapper nearby so that your guests can focus on you and not the insects.

Don’t forget to contact your local council to obtain a permit for an outdoor wedding (if required) and also ask about rules for rubbish removal, candle or torch lighting, alcohol, and pre-wedding photography.

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