In a country where we definitely don’t have the most reliable weather, outdoor weddings and receptions are surprisingly popular in the UK. It’s easy to see the appeal, it’s often like starting with a blank canvas, not having to work around the layout, decor or rules of a hotel wedding venue. My own wedding reception was in a teepee, and I loved being able to plan and decide on every single little details. There is so much to consider, and lots more to plan than an established venue, so here are my top tips for planning an outdoor wedding.
Finding The Right Space
You may be lucky enough to have a huge garden or field available to you, but if not then you will need to find a suitable piece of land where you can pitch up your big day. It’s useful to have in mind the area you would like to get married and go from there. There are lots of different websites available, but I usually find blogs are one of the best places to start. Search for real weddings in your area and you will find lots of wedding blogs featuring outdoor weddings. It’s a great way to find those unknown fields available for hire.
I used Field Day Site Hire in Yorkshire, and found the most beautiful parkland at Escrick Park near York. Bear in mind with most venues like this, you are literally just hiring the land, nothing else. So if you want accommodation on site or other amenities then you may be better off looking for a hotel or B&B with land to hire.
Tents, Tents Tents!
The great thing about an outdoor wedding is the versatility, and there is so much more available these days than just a standard marquee. Think about your style and your vision for the day. You could opt for a classic marquee, something a bit more quirky like a teepee or a yurt, or the super elegant Hamptons style sperry tent. Decide on what works best for your vision and contact different providers to discuss what is available.
It’s A Blank Canvas
For me, this is one of the best bits about planning an outdoor wedding. It really is a blank canvas and you can totally make it your own. It does however mean there is so much more to consider. You literally have to think about everything, from tables and chairs, crockery and cutlery, tablecloths and napkins, electricity, lighting, catering, toilets, to chilling that all important Prosecco. There are a lot more little details to organise than with a hotel venue, so make sure you are super organised, or have a wedding planner who is experienced with outdoor weddings.
Be Inventive With Your Menu
Another great thing about planning your own outdoor wedding, is that you are not usually restricted on catering. Often with a hotel or similar venue, you have to choose from their typical wedding menus, but if you are pitching up outside there is so much more choice. There are tonnes of outside caterers, offering much more variety, so you can really personalise your day with your food. You could have a hog roast, barbeque, picnic, or even one of the many fun and unique food vans. Make sure you know exactly what your caterers need you to provide. Many will need a catering tent and tables, but will bring their own ovens, however they are all different.
Have A ‘Rain Plan’
It goes without saying we can’t rely on the weather in the UK, so if you are planning an outdoor wedding reception, make sure you have a ‘rain plan’. This doesn’t mean to say you have to have another venue entirely, but make sure your field isn’t likely to flood, and there is plenty of room for your guests to be undercover should the heavens open. Most tents are sturdy enough to withstand a lot of wind, but work with your marquee provider when they are setting up to make sure you won’t get blown away if a gale heads your way.
Give Your Guests Warning
Make sure you let your guests know on your invites that the venue is outdoor. A field can get a bit soft, making it hard to walk in stiletto heels, so a little bit of advance notice makes it easier for them to prepare.
Keep Warm In The Evening
You may have a mid-summer wedding, but it can still get pretty chilly in the evening so make sure you plan for this. As we had a teepee wedding reception, we had an open fire which was lit in the evening. It was nice to see everyone gathering around and toasting marshmallows, as well as giving off quite a lot heat! You can also hire portable heaters if you are having more of a traditional marquee.
This is where the little details really come into their own. A box of blankets for snuggling up, or pashminas to keep the ladies warm are always a great addition.
Are you planning an outdoor wedding or did you have your reception outdoors? We’d love to hear from you and for you to share your top tips!