1. Think seasonal.
When it comes to floral arrangements and bouquets, consider what type of flowers are growing at the time of your wedding. “While a florist may be able to find a flower that’s well past its local growing season, these out-of-season flowers may spend months in a cooler before they end up in your bouquet or centerpiece,” Elliott warns. For the freshest, best-looking flowers, talk to your local florist about the kinds of flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding. We also like the idea of incorporating wildflowers into your bouquet and centerpieces. (Be sure to check with the venue or state park before collecting wildflowers! There may be endangered species of wildflower in the area that are protected.)
2. Think local.
Local growers, local florists, local flowers, local food: Gray can’t stress local enough! Local growers, farmers and vendors can often help keep your wedding costs down. To get you the best deals, these vendors will know who to talk to and chances are they know the venue, which makes a big difference in keeping your plans perfectly aligned. Likewise, if you decide to hold your wedding at a state park near you, introduce yourself to the staff and ask for planning tips. Most likely, they’ve have seen it all and can impart valuable advice on the do’s and don’ts for that particular space.
3. Embrace the elements.
The views, the smells, and the landscape all combine to create the unique atmosphere that will set your wedding apart. Gray says to keep those sights, sounds and smells in mind when planning your big day. For example, if you envision your nuptials on a hill overlooking a lake, it could be windy that day. Gray’s advice? “Don’t fight it,” she says, “Keep flowers, hair, and your veil whimsical and a little wild, and you’ll find you’re much happier than if you had tried keeping things very formal.”
4. Leave the heels in the car.
Fact: Stilettos will sink into the grass and are not meant to be worn on woodsy paths. Instead, rock the day with a pair of flats, sandals or even your trusty hiking boots.
5. It’s all about the fabric.
Choose the best fabrics for the season. If you’re getting married in the dead heat of summer, go with light, airy fabrics. Since you’ll be outdoors for most of the day and probably into the night, consider wearing (or at least, bringing) layers. A nice scarf or light jacket can be a godsend when the sun goes down and you’re out under the stars. And don’t forget about the guys! Men should also carefully consider the fabrics of their formal wear. As Elliott puts it, “We see too many couples physically melting in the summer sun dressed in heavy gowns and tuxes.” Choose wisely!
6. Less is more.
No matter the season, when thinking about make-up, less is more. Under the sun, make-up melts, and on humid or rainy days, it runs. When it’s cold out, make-up can over-dry your skin and make it appear flaky. Before applying make-up, make sure to moisturize your skin and apply sunscreen. Consider using long-lasting make-up products, such as waterproof mascara and lip stain.
7. Remember your guests.
While all the attention will be on you, don’t forget your guests. Keep them comfortable during the outdoor ceremony and reception by supplying seasonally appropriate accoutrements. For spring or summer weddings, think fun straw hats, parasols, sunglasses, and herbal bug sprays. For fall and winter weddings, leave out hand-warmers, and consider draping blankets or scarves over the backs of chairs. This will add visual interest to your seating arrangement, and also provide needed warmth for your guests.
During a summer wedding, keep your guests cool during the service and cocktail hour by having a self-serve drink station. Have pitchers of cucumber water, iced tea, and lemonade available. Or keep your guests warm during those early spring, late fall, and winter weddings with hot beverages, like hot chocolate, coffee and tea.
9. No one likes runny cake.
Just like what you wear, the food you serve at an outdoor reception should be seasonally appropriate. For summer weddings, Elliott suggests avoiding foods that melt, and choosing cheeses and cake frostings wisely. If you’re having the big day catered, make sure your caterer knows beforehand about your outdoor wedding plans. This will help you avoid having a puddle for a wedding feast.
10. Have a backup plan.
Most importantly, have a backup plan! Holding your wedding outdoors means you are at the mercy of Mother Nature, so your contingency plan should include a sheltered space where you can carry out the nuptials and/or reception. When looking for a wedding venue, try to find one that also offers a large tent or sheltered picnic area or an indoor space, such as a barn or hall.
Have you said “Yes” and are now on the hunt for wedding venues? Stay tuned for an upcoming Pocket Ranger® post about great outdoor wedding venues at state parks across the country!