As a garden venue, it comes as no surprise that we advocate for having an outdoor wedding. It’s hard to beat the natural beauty of the outdoors. However, there are many things to consider when you are planning an outdoor wedding that indoor weddings don’t necessarily require. If you’ve booked with us - or another venue - keep reading to learn how to plan the perfect outdoor wedding!
As we mentioned, we love a good garden wedding. While some couples may prefer the blank canvas of some indoor venues, venues with an outside option give couples so much to already work with! You can make your wedding as formal or informal as you’d like. Want to keep it casual? Tie in elements to make it feel more like a backyard wedding. Want to dress it up? Set the ambiance with live musicians and cocktail (or nicer) attire! You can still design your wedding how you want with the beauty already present. It’s a win-win!
So, if you’re choosing to host your wedding out in nature, what are some things you need to consider?
What to Consider
First things first, the budget. While you can save on a lot of areas by choosing an outdoor venue - such as extra decor or floral arrangements - there are other costs to consider that aren’t as necessary for an indoor wedding.
This is especially true with last-minute costs. Factors such as weather and special vendor requests can impact your budget. Take the weather for example. Not only is there the added cost of a backup plan for rain, but there can also be the cost of heaters, fans, umbrellas for the wedding party, blankets for guests – among others – that can add up if you aren’t careful. When you’re planning your wedding budget, allot some funds for last-minute expenses to make sure you are covered if needed.
When you’re booking an outdoor venue, make sure to check with potential vendors about any restrictions they might have, if they can work at outdoor spaces, etc. You don’t want to accidentally book a vendor that doesn’t have the capacity to work at your space. Ask questions before you book them, such as:
Your friends and family are excited to celebrate with you, so make sure they are prepared to enjoy your day with you! You will want to make sure your guests know in advance that your wedding is outdoors so they can play accordingly. Letting them know it’s outdoors will help them decide which outfit to wear, whether or not to wear new heels (we recommend block heels!), if they need to bring extra layers, etc.
When you plan the details of your event, keep your guests in mind. Do you have enough water and other drinks to keep them hydrated in the warmer months? Are there enough places of shade to escape in? Should you provide extra blankets if it’s supposed to be chilly?
Some other items to consider for your guests include:
Seasons always impact food, especially if the dinner itself will be outside! In cooler months, providing warm and comforting dishes will help make sure your guests are satisfied and comfortable during the reception. In warmer months, a hot and heavy dish probably is not the way to go. Peter Callahan Events in New York recommends showcasing refreshing produce in the warmer months while steering clear of rich, heavy foods such as risotto or gratins.
Your appetizers can reflect the seasons as well! You don’t have to stick with pumpkins in the fall or watermelon in the summer (although you definitely can!), but consider serving fresh fruit or light bruschetta in the warmer months, and charcuterie boards or heavy dips in the cooler months.
For drinks, make sure your guests keep hydrated in the summer with plenty of water, but also by providing other refreshing drinks! Lemonade, sweet tea, or cool signature drinks are great on a warmer day. Once it starts getting chilly, consider having a hot chocolate bar or a spiced cider for the fall or winter.
Saving the best for last with your menu - dessert! Again, you’ll want to take the weather into consideration even with your desserts. Keeping on theme, have refreshing flavors such as key lime pie, lemon curd, or other light flavors for warmer months, and richer, heavy desserts such as chocolate or spice cakes for cooler seasons.
Lastly, one of the most important – but often one of the most overlooked – factors of having an outdoor wedding is the lighting. It is a good idea to know when the sun sets on your scheduled day. When you choose your ceremony start time, will the sun be up or starting to set? Will the sun still be blazing down on the reception area once dinner starts? Trust your venue’s advice when it comes to the best timeframe for your wedding.
At Four Oaks, for a standard 4-hour wedding, we typically recommend scheduling your ceremony 2 hours prior to the sunset. This guarantees that you will have light for your ceremony and photos, but also gives you enough time at night to dance under the stars and have a good setting for grand exits such as sparklers or glow sticks.
You will also want to talk with other vendors about lighting, especially your photographer! Talk about whether you want any golden hour photos, if they want to schedule a site visit to test the lighting, and more.
Mistakes to Avoid:
Lastly, here are some common mistakes to avoid when you’re planning your outdoor wedding.
Dreaming of your perfect outdoor wedding? Tour Four Oaks Manor and see if our garden is the place for you!