There’s something extra special about an outdoor wedding ceremony, isn’t there? Especially when you’re blessed with the kind of incredible scenery we have in Colorado. From meadows filled with wildflowers to golden wheat fields and majestic mountains in both summer and winter, it’s a fresh air destination wedding location that’s hard to beat! That being said, exchanging your vows in nature also comes with a unique set of logistical challenges. Here are my top tips for planning an outdoor ceremony that goes off without a hitch!
Choose your time and location carefully. When considering when and where to have your outdoor wedding ceremony, you’ll want to think of more than just the pretty backdrop. For example, the position of the sun can have a dramatic effect on the quality of your photographs, from sun flare to squinty eyes and too much heat! Talk to your Colorado wedding planner and photographer and get their advice.
Keep your guests comfy. Your outdoor wedding ceremony location might be beautiful, but discomfort quickly trumps scenery for unhappy guests! For a summer wedding, look for a shady area or provide shade in the form of parasols or umbrellas. For a winter one, provide blankets or wraps. Ensure you rent enough seats so that everyone can sit down. You should also make sure that restrooms are available or hire some. And finally, provide refreshments before the ceremony starts (especially important for hot summer days in the dry mountain air!)
Have a great Plan B. Whatever the season and location, you should always have a back-up plan for your outdoor wedding ceremony – especially in a state known for its weather! So talk to your venue or planner about indoor options and take the time to think these through properly and even fall in love with them a little. That way, if the sun doesn’t shine on your big day, it won’t be so heartbreaking or stressful to have to pivot to a new location.
Wind factor. Rain is usually what couples plan for in terms of bad weather, but wind can have just as much of an impact on your outdoor wedding ceremony. In fact, even milder summer winds can cause loose hair to fly into your face during the vows or create a flyaway veil situation. If you can’t find a sheltered spot, make sure you plan your hair and accessories accordingly.
Check your permits. If you choose to get married in one of Colorado’s beautiful state or city parks, then you’ll require a permit. Be sure to include this in your budget and secure it well ahead of time. There may also be guidelines for use of the property, such as noise ordinances and number of guests.
Ditch the heels. You might have been eyeing out the perfect pair of Louboutins for your wedding day, but the last thing you want is those gorgeous heels sinking into the grass and making you stumble as you walk down the aisle! Wear flats or wedges for the ceremony or invest in a pair of heel stoppers for the walk.
Set up a sound system. Unless you’re planning a very intimate outdoor wedding ceremony of ten guests or fewer, you should have an audio system. Without walls to provide acoustics, the sounds of nature can make it hard for guests to hear your music or vows. Also, make sure your system includes clip mics for the couple and officiant.
Create a focal feature. A floral arch or huppah create a wonderful focal point that frames the couple as they say their vows. A tree can do the same, especially draped in fabric or with lanterns hanging from the boughs. Get creative and brainstorm ideas with your wedding planner, designer and florist.
Provide on site transportation for older guests. Depending on your outdoor wedding ceremony location, older or less mobile guests may struggle to get where they need to go. If possible, arrange a golf buggy or some other form of transportation for them.
Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen! If you’re planning a Colorado destination wedding in summer, then insects may want to join the party! Make containers of eco-friendly bug spray and sunscreen too on hand for guests to use.
What outdoor wedding ceremony locations are you considering?
Top image by Sarah Roshan