I wanted to check in with you at this point, halfway through the year, to 1. see how you’re doing, and 2. to share my top planning tips on one of the most popular, if not the most popular wedding setting during the summer season… the great outdoors.
I hope you appreciate my honest, realistic approach when it comes to sharing wedding planning advice, and the fact that I’m not afraid to tackle some of the meatier topics (The hidden costs you need to be aware of, for example). So, with this in mind, I should probably start by saying that outdoor weddings come with their fair share of both positives AND negatives. Yes, they take a huge amount of planning, contingency considerations and logistical hurdles, but I can’t deny the fact that the opportunities are literally endless. And don’t even get me started on the scenery = dreamy.
Some of my most memorable weddings have been planned and built from the ground up – exhausting, yes, but equally rewarding and TOTALLY worth it! If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, you must be prepared to juggle MANY moving parts, but with this option you also get the opportunity and flexibility to build your dream wedding – a pretty epic prospect, right?!
We know from experience, and through Coco Wedding Venues‘ fantastic platform insights, that the next couple of months are peak wedding planning season – prime for romantic holiday proposals, venue showrounds and getting a grip on your wedding admin. So, with this in mind, I’m sharing my top tips for planning an outdoor wedding. Many of which myself (and my team) have already implemented during our mammoth 2022 season, and some that will hopefully mean that you too can plan your own beautiful outdoor celebration with confidence.
As I alluded to in the intro, you really do need to be prepared for additional wedding admin and logistics, which in turn will likely translate to rising costs. There is SO much more to consider, plan and pay for than a standard ‘all inclusive’ venue i.e. toilet hire, power, shade / plan b cover, security, parking, waste removal etc. These are details that can easily be forgotten and whilst they’re not the most glamourous or romantic, they’re integral to the success of your big day. If you have your heart set on a dry hire / marquee wedding and you’re not quite sure where to start, my marquee feature is a must.
licenses + permissions
If you’ve opted for a location that isn’t usually used for weddings – a private garden, woodland, family land etc. you’ll need to look into and ensure that you have all the relevant licences and permissions in place. And if you plan to legally marry outdoors, don’t forget to check with the local council / Government websites first. Currently, you can only legally get married at a licensed venue (indoors or outdoors) so if your outdoor wedding location isn’t licensed, you might want to consider an intimate legal ceremony before your wedding day and a celebrant-led blessing on the day itself.
As much as you’ll be willing for sunshine all day long, please please please have a plan in place for all weather eventualities. This is the UK after all! Work out those plan a’s, b’s AND c’s – and be proactive with your planning. Look into details such as cover, heating, accessibility and shade, which can often be overlooked.
Book suppliers with outdoor experience and don’t be afraid to ask for their advice, input and expertise. They’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt, many times over! They’ll be more than happy to impart their knowledge and contribute to making your day run as smoothly as possible.
Plan in plenty of onsite meetings / site visits to fully understand the scope, scale, and logistics involved with planning an outdoor wedding, especially with your suppliers. Weddings are all about teamwork so remember to keep everyone in the loop with regular updates and info on any additions / amendments.
Use the natural landscape to your décor / styling advantage. Chances are, if you’re getting married in the great outdoors in the UK you’ll already be treated to a glorious setting. This could be décor enough but consider whether you have or need a focal point (especially for your ceremony). Can you hang drapes or lighting from above? What can you forage (within reason!) or hire to enhance but not detract from the beautiful surroundings?
Go all out with illumination, from festoons and fire pits to hurricane lanterns and torches. I can’t stress this enough – selecting the appropriate lighting options (indoors and outdoors) will have a direct impact on the ambience for each part of your wedding day and can totally transform blank canvas spaces. Oh, and don’t forget to light pathways, the loos and the car park too!
Communicate with your guests to ensure they have appropriate attire i.e. heel stoppers, extra layers etc. There’s nothing worse than turning up to an event feeling underprepared and uncomfortable so don’t forget to keep in touch with your guests and let them know what to expect. A general message ahead of the big day will be gratefully received by your guests and is a wonderful way to increase excitement in the run up to the festivities!
Add some extras to your shopping and emergency wedding kit. As with the weather in the UK, you never really know what you’re going to get until the day itself, so remember to consider and plan for all options! Stock up on hay fever tablets, heel stoppers, midge / mosquito spray, citronella candles, blankets and umbrellas.
hire a wedding planner
Seriously consider hiring a wedding planner, especially on the day. As capable as you are, and as well as you know your plans (inside and out), it’s your special day and you only get to do it once. So why not hand it over so you can truly let go and actually enjoy the day as much as you had hoped and planned to.
If people want to help, let them. You know the saying, ‘many hands make light work’? Well in advance of your wedding gather your helpers together but make sure they have allocated roles and clear responsibilities. This is also the time to get your schedule A-game on so check it, and then check it again.
setting up / packing down
Depending on your venue and / or wedding location, try to allow for extra time for set-up and pack-down. These things always take longer than you expect, so get a plan of action nailed down beforehand and try and rope in plenty of hands / friends to help too. Ply them with refreshments and pop on a playlist to keep the energy levels high!
Refine your wedding venue search by location, capacity, type, and style.Visit Venue Finder
Planning advice, real wedding edits, and venue showcases to inspire you.View Blog
From photographers to bridal fashion and styling, find the best wedding suppliers right here.View Suppliers