Today’s guest post was written by the lovely Terrica, of Cocktails + Details. She works out of Charleston, South Carolina – so she has some great advice on this topic! Thanks, Terrica.

Whenever most brides envision their day, more and more are leaning outside the traditional indoor wedding and instead are opting for a beautiful outdoor wedding that encompasses their event vision. Be it beachside, in a field or garden, outdoor weddings are so very romantic because it is like Mother Nature is lending a bit of her own glory to your wedding day. Provided you have your logistics and contingency plans worked out, your outdoor wedding can be a glorious, memorable affair.

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Choosing a location

As with any location, you want to choose something that is meaningful but also practical. In the wedding pictured above, our client actually chose her the backyard of her childhood home for her ceremony. Surrounded by family and friends and the beautiful perennials her mother nurtured throughout the year, the wedding ceremony needed only a few touches to transform it to something spectacular. When searching and scouting for locations, don’t discount non-traditional options. Consider the time of year and what will be growing and in season for your wedding. The more green and lush a garden, yard or field is, the more vibrant everything else appears with it.  

 The Logistics of an Outdoor Wedding

Make sure that you have an area that can serve as a main focal point for your guests to attract their attention. The wedding in the above picture actually took place on top of a hot tub with the ocean as a backdrop. This allowed for guests to get an opportunity to get up close to the couple at an estate that had some very non-traditional layouts. You will also want to make sure it is easily accessible. There needs to be an easy way in and easy way out– don’t forget to take into account elderly or handicapped individuals in your guest list.  Fun signage is a great way to ensure that your guests don’t get lost and know where important areas of your event are (e.g., restrooms, event areas, etc.). When your space is vast and large, don’t be afraid to use areas to create lounge or rest areas.

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 Photos by Agnes Lopez


Also be sure to think strategically– as weddings happen within a time frame of four to six hours, you don’t want any significant  downtime with travel, additional set up or “flipping”– a term we use in the industry that entails us moving all of the furniture and decor in one spot and replacing it with another. You can see this above where we had a beautiful garden wedding and then transformed it to an outdoor party with a black and white dance floor, lighting, bars and more. Additionally, there has to be a great flow to the event. There should be an area for your cocktail hour, which can segue into your reception.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Ensure that your food areas (stations, buffets, cakes, etc.) have proper cover and protection from wind and insects
  • If you are in a humid area or an area that has an infestation of mosquitos, sand gnats, etc., see if your location can be sprayed or bring in fans to disperse them.  These tiny wedding crashers can and will ruin the experience at your wedding, so don’t take this lightly!
  • If your event will go into the evening, consider what you will do for your lighting– will you bring in tiki torches, string/bulb lights, lamps, or dramatic lighting? This is something that you cannot skimp on and need to consider as you make your location decisions. The last thing you want is a wedding in the dark!
  • Additionally, as you scout for locations, check your power sources– you may need to bring in a generator to accommodate the needs of your caterer, band/dj, lighting, etc.
  • Try to see your location at or around the same time you are planning to have your wedding to see what factors need to be taken into consideration: lighting, weather, insects, tides, winds, etc. These factors will help you with your layout but also creating realistic contingency plans for your wedding.

Contingency Plans for Outdoor Weddings

The one thing about outdoor weddings is that as soon as you pick your dream location, you need to pick your plan B location. To be frank, we will not work with a client who doesn’t have one or refuses to get one in place with their wedding– that is how important it is. Weather and outside forces can change at a moment’s notice, causing your guests, musicians and other vendors to scramble looking for cover and attempting to salvage what is left of your wedding. So while you may feel like you are planning two weddings, your plan A and your plan B, make sure they are both something that you can live with – even if adjustments need to be made. Tents need to be ordered at the very latest a week in advance. A tent cannot be thrown together and erected within hours of your wedding. It takes an entire team who needs enough time to plot its position and account for any mishaps that could happen. If there are indoor options at or near your wedding location, look into these options and see if your outdoor layout can be duplicated at your Plan B location as well. Remember– it’s nothing to stress about! If you have to make changes before your wedding, your guests will never know you had something different planned. They will just attend a beautiful wedding.  

Outdoor weddings take a bit more work, but are worth every bit of effort!