Our Full Guide to Outdoor Weddings

Bride with eight bridesmaids

Photo: Bella Denver / Taylor Jones

Has it always been your dream to have an outdoor wedding?

In the right climate and at the right venue, an outdoor wedding always makes for an aesthetic, memorable event!

But since you can’t control Mother Nature, planning for the big day requires you to take a few precautions if you want to celebrate outside.

From choosing the right attire and footwear to making a backup plan in case it rains, here’s our full guide to outdoor weddings to make your wedding day go off without a hitch!

How to Choose the Right Outdoor Wedding Venue

Wedding tentPhoto: Scott Clark

Planning a great outdoor wedding starts with one step:

Picking an incredible outdoor wedding venue!

There are so many options to choose from:

A Southern California wedding on the beach in February …

A rooftop garden party in New York City in the spring …

Maybe your dream is to have a rustic country wedding in a barn or a boho-chic event in a flower garden, a backyard, or even the woods. Or maybe you’re ready to pack a bag and escape to a tropical destination or get married in the desert.

However you envision your wedding day, you can be sure there is a perfect outdoor location for it.

Consider the Time of Day

Keep in mind that some venues only work at certain times of day.

For instance, a woodsy outdoor setting might look stunning during the day but lose its appeal at night. Your favorite beach might be ideal for a wedding at sunset but too hot for comfort in the middle of the day.

If you have your heart set on a particular location, you may need to be a bit more flexible with the timing of your ceremony and when you start and end your reception. 

Related: 30+ Questions to Ask During Wedding Venue Tours

Consider the Logistics

Wedding tentPhoto: Lucy Cuneo

Choosing your dresses, selecting your caterer, and tasting your wedding cake are some of the most fun parts of wedding planning. And when you’re planning an outdoor wedding, the logistics are just as important! 

If a destination wedding on the beach is your ideal location, make sure there is electricity to illuminate your chandeliers, plug in your string lights, mic up your DJ, or power up the band. A summer wedding on the beach can be the perfect backdrop for wedding photos, but without a power supply your guests will have to dance under the moonlight! 

It can be hard to dance on sand, grass, and other natural surfaces. So, if you’re having a rustic wedding in the woods or a casual backyard wedding on grass, it’s a good idea to install a dance floor.

Installing a temporary flat surface can also make it easier to set up tables, chairs, and food. Large buffet tables and large dining tables are usually sturdy enough on grass and sand, but small food stations and small cocktail tables benefit from having a stable surface underfoot.

What if It Rains?

Outdoor wedding tentPhoto: Carrie Patterson

An outdoor ceremony and outdoor wedding reception mean instant ambiance, but rain, wind, and bugs are always a possibility.  

No matter where you’re getting married or what time of year it is, it’s always best to have a plan B.

If your venue has an indoor space, secure it as your rainy day backup plan.

If there is no indoor option, rent a tent, just in case. One with removable sides is ideal if you’re concerned about a lot of rain and wind.

But even if it’s a perfectly sunny day, an overhead tent is still a good idea, as it’s the best way to provide shade and shelter from the sun!

There are a few other things you can do to make your guests (and yourself) more comfortable in the elements:

1. Have plenty of citronella candles, bug spray, and mosquito repellent on hand.
2. If you’re having a beach wedding, provide your guests with flip flops, sunscreen, or parasols to shade themselves from the sun.
3. If you’re getting married outside in the fall, prepare for cool weather by giving your guests wraps or shawls to cover up with.

    Tip: It's crucial to have rain-ready makeup, too. There are a lot of good tips in this article: The Ultimate Beach Wedding Makeup Guide.

    What to Wear to an Outdoor Wedding

    Bride wearing white dress standing next to nine bridesmaids in red dresses

    Photo: Bella Atlanta / Loveleigh Co.

    Dress: Jenny Yoo Rochelle in Hibiscus

    Black tuxedos and elegant satin gowns are always chic, but if you’re having a summer farm wedding or getting married outside in the heat, your bridal party will be much more comfortable in lightweight dresses and light-colored suits.

    Dress your wedding party according to the climate. Brighter pastel shades are great for spring and summer celebrations. Casual lace dresses and semi-formal suits are ideal for a countryside setting, a boho barn wedding, or a wedding in the woods. ​

    When it’s time to choose your colors, take the natural landscape into consideration. Light blue dresses will blend flawlessly with the ocean waves, while dark burgundy dresses are the ideal contrast to a woodsy venue with lots of natural greenery.

    Shop our bridesmaid dress collection:

    Bridesmaid Dresses | Junior Bridesmaid Dresses | Flower Girl Dresses Maternity Bridesmaid Dresses | Dresses Under $200

    How Should I Decorate for an Outdoor Wedding?

    Outdoor wedding tablePhoto: Aaron & Jillian Photography

    With an outdoor event, you can usually get away with having a bit less wedding décor. And that’s because a natural landscape makes the perfect backdrop! 

    Whether you’re going for full-on elegance or a whimsical vibe, pick and choose elements that coordinate and complement the surrounding landscape. This goes for everything from your bouquets to your centerpieces to your wedding cake!

    Read also: 9 Perfect Aisle and Pew Decorations for Outdoor Weddings

    What Food Should I Serve?

    Outdoor weddings can be any type of celebration you want, and that means that you can serve any type of food you like.

    Just be sure to choose a caterer who has experience in hosting al fresco dining events. There are lots of logistics to consider when serving food outdoors, but a caterer with a lot of outdoor experience will know how to handle all of the details.

    Related: Everything You Should Know About Wedding Buffet Menus

    Be Sure to Let Your Guests Know You’re Getting Married Outside

    Bride, groom, bridesmaids, and groomsmen celebratingPhoto: Bella DC / Anna Smith

    Dress: Various Amsale styles

    Don’t let your outdoor wedding be a surprise to your guests and loved ones. Let them know ahead of time so that they can prepare, wear the right type of footwear, and dress according to the weather.

    Whether you’re holding your wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, or the entire celebration outdoors, let your guests know in advance.

    Having the right footwear on your tootsies can make or break the entire experience. Recommend shoe options, such as flats or wedges, if you’re having your wedding on the grass or on the beach.

    This goes for the bride and bridesmaids, too! Instead of those strappy stilettos you love, you’ll probably be more comfortable saying your nuptials in sturdier heels, flats, or no shoes at all.


    Ready to have the best outdoor wedding of all time? You’re going to!

    As long as you prepare for inclement weather and unforeseen circumstances, your outdoor wedding will be a raving success. 

    And if it does rain, who cares? There’s nothing you can do to control that, so just roll with the punches and whatever you do, never let a little rain spoil your day! 

    Just think of that Friends episode, the one where Phoebe gets married in the snow. Monica and Rachel were champion bridesmaids wearing winter coats over their bridesmaid dresses, and Pheebs didn’t let the snow spoil her chance to show off her dress!

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