Top ten tips for an outdoor wedding

Whether you’re planning a small, socially distanced humanist wedding for later this year, or a larger, more traditional affair in years to come, some planning tips are universal. Humanist wedding celebrant Ginny Collins shares her top ten tips for an outdoor wedding. 

Beautiful outdoor, humanist wedding ceremony. Photo by Creative Flux

So, you’re having an outdoor ceremony! What is more lovely than the UK in summer when the weather is on our side?

What spells summer more than the scent of roses and hothouse flowers in borders, the drone of bees, and page boys with grass-stained knees? A British summer’s day can be enchanting — or it can be exasperating. I’ve conducted hundreds of humanist weddings outdoors and learned a lot along the way. So, here are my top tips on how to be prepared…

Top ten tips for an outdoor wedding

1. Avoid double-booking

Most years, major summer sporting events are the nemesis of every couple planning a wedding. If sporting events are permitted again by the time you plan to have your wedding, do your research to avoid diary clashes. Make sure you cover football, rugby, tennis and golf,  and then avoid those dates where possible.

2. Check for shade

Let’s be optimistic and assume you have the sun beating down all day. If you can supply parasols, do — otherwise, look to your surroundings: trees, a gazebo, or even a high wall can provide shelter.

Make sure that you and your guests won’t be squinting into the sun when you make your vows. Consider the time of the day and the position of the sun.

Cool and shady humanist wedding ceremony. Photo by Simple Tapestry

And, when it comes to the photos, avoid being plunged into deep shade or half and half — even light is best!

Perfectly lit wedding photo by Simple Tapestry

3. Weather-proof your ceremony

Acknowledge that fierce wind, a downpour, or even a heatwave might happen. No matter how reliable these months usually are, you could get caught out. Accepting this is the first step in being prepared. Make sure you have a wet  — or windy —weather alternative!

4. Simplify

From outdoor decor to your hairstyle, ask yourself if your bunting/arch/chignon would withstand a downpour or strong breeze? Then ask someone else for an honest answer and make changes or contingency plans.

5. Use insect repellent

They’re the unwanted guest at every outdoor wedding: you can’t ask insects not to come but you can make sure they don’t bother you. Taking a non-drowsy antihistamine in the morning will ease hay fever symptoms and itching from existing bites that could bug you on the day. If your ceremony or photo opportunities feature a lake or long grass, then you’ll need protection from midges, so douse yourself in repellent — there are plenty of natural and gently scented versions on the market.

Waterside wedding ceremony. Photo by Bill Douetil

6. Day-tripping

Plan as though you and your guests are going on a day trip. Would you set off sightseeing, for a picnic, or a day at the beach without a bottle of water, sun lotion, insect repellent, a brolly, and a jacket (just in case)? The same applies for a summer wedding, so remind guests to be prepared.

7. Food and drink

If guests will be dining alfresco, you’ll need to find a caterer with experience of catering outdoor events. These days, festival-style weddings are very popular and have the catering to go with it – mobile pizza ovens, fish and chip vans, ice cream vans —  anything goes!

Creative catering. Photo by Creative Flux

8. A word about shoes

No one is suggesting that you should forgo a strap, a heel, or an open toe, but feet swell in heat, stilettos sink into the grass, and flip flops squelch in rain, so think about putting function before form (as far as your style threshold will allow). Wellington boots can be purchased in white, for this very reason!

Wonderful wedding wellies! Photo by Sawyer and Sawyer Photography

9. Cool evenings

At some point in the day, the sun will go down and the temperature may drop several degrees. Being cold is not a good look and with so many options for brides and grooms — from pashminas to tweeds — there is no need for goosebumps. As with almost everything else on this list, it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. You might also like to think about providing blankets and wraps for guests to borrow as the night draws in.

10. Illumination

As the light begins to fade, what’s more enchanting than fairy lights hanging from trees and candles in lanterns marking the paths? Beautiful and practical too!


Featured celebrant

Ginny Collins is available to conduct humanist weddings in London, Surrey, West Sussex, parts of Hertfordshire, Berkshire, East Sussex, and Kent. She also conducts pre-wedding ceremony celebrations online for couples in lockdown on their planned wedding day — and when travel is once again permitted, Ginny is happy to travel abroad to conduct weddings.

Humanist wedding celebrant Ginny Collins. Photo by Douglas Roberts

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