So you’ve got your eye on your dream dress, you’ve got a date in mind and you’re pondering the venue. You have your heart set on a magical and romantic wedding, and you are toying with the idea of an outdoor event. That’s fine if you are planning to jet off to sunnier climes, but if you’re deliberating taking a chance on the UK weather, then there’s plenty of good advice out there to help you contingency plan for the worst of the weather. Outdoor weddings in the UK are becoming increasingly popular, especially since the law was changed in 2014 relaxing the rules (before that civil marriages and partnerships had to take place in a fixed structure with a roof).
If you like a challenge and you’re not put off by the possibility of rain, then an outdoor wedding brings something special to the party. Here are some of our top tips to get you started planning the perfect outdoor wedding. Most importantly go with the flow. Dancing in the rain will give you some amazing and unique wedding photos.
Firstly, you’ll have to find out if the place you are considering has a licence to host outdoor weddings. You also can’t sign the marriage docs outside, so you may need to plan a separate day to go to the Registry office to do that. You’ll need to give notice at your local registry office at least 28 days before the big day.
If your field is flooded on your wedding day it doesn’t have to ruin your finances too. Worth considering if you like to cover all eventualities.
If you’ve chosen to have your wedding outside in the UK, chances are you’ve considered what happens if there’s a downpour on your special day. So, to help your guests enjoy your day whatever the weather you may like to provide umbrellas and even wellies, depending on how extreme your beauty spot is. Practically you’ll want to consider wind and avoid chiffons and silks in your wedding dress. Don’t forget to tell your hairdresser you’ll need a style that isn’t going to end up looking like Johnny Depp on a movie set.
Temper your guests’ expectations by suggesting on the invitation to wear suitable clothing and bring a brolly. Your guests won’t mind so much if the weather takes a turn for the worse if they are prepared.
Tents come in all shapes and sizes so if there isn’t a structure nearby you can use, it’s worth going for at least one large tent or marquee. It’s a blank canvas so you’ll be able to create the backdrop you’ve dreamed of.
Keep the critters at bay. Citronella candles are a must.
Whether you’re going for twinkling fairy lights or glitzy outdoor chandeliers, you’ll need to consider electrical power. Don’t forget to light up walkways to bathroom facilities. It’s a good idea to get an electrician to check out your lighting structures and recommend how many generators you’ll need. Camping lanterns under tables can provide an added glow.
Are there are accessible bathroom facilities on-site? You may need to hire some portable facilities which range from the most basic portaloos to luxury mobile bathrooms.
Keeping your guests comfortable
It’s the little extras that sometimes make all the difference. Lap blankets for the evening or scarves (which could cover as favours for the ladies), as well as plastic heel protectors (if you are getting married on grass) are all great touches.
Check if you can play music, and don’t forget to plan for fire and safety.
Make sure your guests are provided with sufficient directions, especially if you’re off the beaten track. Make sure there’s adequate parking and signposts.
You’ll most likely have a caterer who can advise you and/or provide all the necessary equipment, but you’ll need to factor in keeping food fresh and drinks cold. Keep your caterer updated with the weather forecast. You may like to offer mulled wine and hot chocolate if you encounter an unexpected cold snap. Outdoor events open up a range of fun possibilities from picnics and hog roasts to elegant sit-down tea parties.
Can everybody hear?
If you’re on a beach with crashing waves. It may be worth considering renting a sound system with clip microphones for the bride, groom and officiant.
Avoid lightweight vases or centrepieces that could tip over in a breeze. Consider potted plants. Keep candles lit by placing them in lanterns.
If you want it completely al fresco, a marquee or a nearby barn you can move to might prove crucial if the weather doesn’t co-operate.
If it’s possible, provide seating for your guests (or at least a few seats for the older guests). An umbrella on each seat and a pashmina on the back of each chair is a nice touch if you are anticipating showers and in cooler weather. If you are using hay bales for seating, throw over some brightly coloured blankets.