With our thoughts already on warm weather, we were happy to see this list of outdoor wedding suggestions in our in box. These come from Meghan Rudolph, wedding planner for Arizona’s L’Auberge de Sedona:
1. Budget: Have an exact budget or specific dollar amount when you meet with your wedding planner. Make a prioritized list of what is necessary to create your wedding the way you envision it. This will help in deciding between calligraphy invitations and live music. It can be disappointing to make big plans and then have to cancel them because they’re not affordable.
2. Date: Planning the date is extremely important. Have several in mind, since popular wedding months such as May, June, September and October may limit the choice of dates. At L’Auberge, which is in Sedona, we recommend winter weddings for better value. They can be spectacular at this time of year.
3. Comfort: Remember to ensure your guests’ comfort by considering weather conditions on the big day. If hot, have ushers offer ice-cold water bottles as guests are seated, or print your wedding program on a hand-held fan to keep your guests cool. Colorful paper umbrellas shade the sun and add beautiful color as well.
4. Backup plan: What if it rains? The ideal outdoor wedding location should have an indoor plan just in case. However, an outdoor tent is another option, but only for light to moderate rainstorms. Or, the couple might have the ceremony outside and reception inside as a way to minimize the risk of bad weather.
5. Plan for Wind: Windy conditions can wreak havoc on attire, hair, and décor. If the location is typically windy, avoid fabrics such as chiffons or China silks. Also, advise your hairstylist that your wedding is outdoors so she/he can design an appropriate style for you and the bridal party. While unity ceremonies are important, wind can have an ill effect on the traditional unity candle. More recent ideas include the sand ceremony and water ceremony.
6. Décor: With natural beauty all around, outdoor weddings often use fewer decorations.Some to be considered, however, include an arch or trellis, strings of lights or lanterns in the trees, torches, and luminarias or farolitas. A flower petal walkway dense with deep colored rose petals creates a dramatic contrast to green grass. Note: for weddings on grassy areas, ensure the sprinkler system is disabled so guests don’t receive an unwanted shower!
7. Food: At L’Auberge, we recommend a reception with food stations with delicious and beautiful options that are prepared and refreshed on a continual basis. Guests can enjoy the reception without worrying if the food is getting cold or that they’ll miss a served food course.
8. Bugs: One way to limit bug disturbances is to use citronella candles. While insects are not typically a concern in Sedona’s high dessert, we place citronella candles around the border of the event disguised with red rocks or other natural elements just in case.
9. Sunlight: Couples who consider timing their outdoor wedding to a beautiful sunset should ensure that chairs are oriented away from the sun so it won’t shine directly in the eyes of their guests during the ceremony.
10. Attire: If hot weather is in the forecast, wear light fabrics to avoid unnecessary overheating or perspiration. Brides wearing trains should consider the ground they will be walking on to avoid grass and dirt. (An aisle runner can be helpful in avoiding stains.) Consult a makeup professional for makeup that won’t cake, streak, or shine and will hold up well for photographs and throughout the event.