How To Plan For An Outdoor Wedding Ceremony

Outdoor weddings ooze sophistication, class, romance and illustriousness. You only need to flick through wedding photos of outdoor weddings and you'll understand the beauty. With stunning sunsets, incredible ocean views and impressive night skies that are lit up with tea lights hanging - it's truly a glamorous outdoor affair that leaves you and all your guests bewildered by its beauty.

However, as beautiful and awe-inspiring an outdoor wedding ceremony is, it requires thoughtful wedding planning to properly execute. Whether you and your partner choose to have a garden wedding, a cocktail hour by the beach, a dance floor under the stars, or an entire event outdoors, there are important factors to consider for your outdoor wedding venue.

There's the location, decor, catering, weather, wedding style, music and more. There's quite an outdoor wedding checklist!

Unsure where to start? Keep reading for an all-inclusive guide to planning your outdoor wedding.

outdoor wedding ceremony at Kangaroo Valley Bush Retreat in Canberra

Location, location, location

Much like the real estate saying "location, location, location" the same applies to weddings.

The wedding location plays a big role in the experience of your wedding. This is even more true when it comes to outdoor weddings. Being outdoors, you're open to the natural elements, which means there might be unexpected surprises. You'll want to choose a location that is not only beautiful but also won't leave you damp from the waves of the nearby ocean or with an insect in your hair from overhanging trees!

Wedding ceremony location

When you plan outdoor wedding, you'll need a wide open space that can neatly present the wedding aisle, the seats for all your guests and the alter for the bridal party and groomsmen (and, of course, for you and your other half). Most wedding locations will know how to prepare for your wedding day but if you're having a backyard wedding, this will be important to keep in mind.

If you're having your wedding ceremony during the day, glorious beaches and lush natural settings work as beautiful backdrops. For an outdoor ceremony in the evening you'll just need to make sure you have access to electricity to power enough lighting for your guests.

Some of our favourite outdoor wedding locations are unique locations immersed in nature, on the beach, big backyard weddings or garden weddings.

Wedding reception site

For the outdoor wedding reception, keep in mind the outdoor events you'll be wanting at your wedding. From the dance floor, to speeches, to catering, to cutting the wedding cake! Write up a wedding run sheet and flag any problems you foresee with your outdoor wedding reception location.

As wedding receptions are often hosted in the evening, consider access to electricity, lighting, cover and whether your guests will be comfortable in the outdoor setting.

If you're hosting your wedding reception in Woop Woop, you're hosting your wedding day on virtually a blank canvas - you'll need to start from scratch! This means supplying electricity from a generator, providing luxury portable restrooms, keeping your guests warm with blankets and heating, as well as adding a few subtle extras to add to the mise en scene.

We recommend also having a separate prepping tent for catering and cleaning, so you can enjoy the outdoor wedding whilst all of the behind the scenes is hidden in the tent!

outdoor wedding at Cedar Creek in Gold Coast

Have a contingency plan

For an outdoor wedding, there's more unexpected variables to consider that might interrupt your wedding day. Although you might not be able to change whether it rains or whether it's a stinking hot 40 degree day - you can prepare for it. Have a contingency plan in place so that your outdoor wedding isn't cut short.

Wet weather

When it comes to your outdoor wedding set-up, think about how rainy weather could impact you and your guests. This might mean adding tents to your outdoor wedding ceremony or giving umbrellas to your guests. You'll also want to make sure your outdoor wedding ceremony has cover for you and your partner! I mean, you don't want to get your wedding dress/suit ruined!

Plan an outdoor wedding that can offer alternatives if rain is expected on your big day. Plus, even better if they offer a nearby reception space so your guests don't have to drive to the wedding reception in the rain. If your wedding venue doesn't cater for wet weather, consider a local rental company who will be able to help with tents, covers or gazebos.

Hot weather

Living in Australia, we all know how hot the weather can be! If you're hosting a summer wedding you'll definitely want to make sure you keep your guests cool. No one enjoys wedding ceremonies when they’re working up a sweat in the sun!

If you're hosting your wedding outdoors in summer, try and provide outdoor air conditioning, high-powered fans, sufficient shade and a glass of iced tea doesn't go astray. Make use of the outdoor wedding venue to offer coolness.

For example, host your outdoor wedding under the shade of the trees if a garden ceremony, or if a backyard wedding grab extension cords and plug in as many air cons you can find.

Outdoor ceremonies are possible in summer as long as you're prepared.

outdoor wedding at Cedar Creek Lodges

Wedding theme

The world is your oyster when you're planning an outdoor wedding. You are creating a wedding scene from scratch, allowing you to bring to life your dream wedding! Have a think of your dream outdoor wedding and see how you can make it happen whilst keeping to your wedding budget.

Natural landscape

One of the biggest reasons couples choose outdoor weddings is because they love the lush outdoor intrigue of outdoor receptions and ceremonies. If this is you, when planning an outdoor wedding, keep your wedding theme minimal allowing the natural landscape to light up the wedding venue.

This will make for stunning photos too! Just imagine saying "I do" on the backdrop of a sun setting.

Backyard wedding

If you're someone who cringes at the thought of a backyard wedding, you might want to rethink this underrated outdoor wedding ceremony spot!

A backyard wedding offers a wonderful setting for your wedding planning. Think: your outdoor evening ceremony covered with flowers, fairy lights and hosted in the intimate environment of a backyard wedding. A backyard wedding is truly a meaningful and romantic venue that needs to be on your wedding venues shortlist.

Plus, if you plan an outdoor wedding ceremony in your backyard or organise a backyard reception, you'll know where everything is! Allowing you to quickly skip off to a private room or have a breather in the garden.

Established wedding venue

If you're hosting your wedding day at an established wedding venue, talk with the events team to see what your options are for your wedding theme. You'll also want to ensure a wedding insurance package is in place to avoid any costs due to damage.

It's always a good idea to check out their wedding website to make sure they have everything you need to plan an outdoor wedding.

Wedding planner

We understand, wedding planning can be difficult! To plan an outdoor wedding, there's many unexpected twists and turns you'll need to consider. If you need help, reach out to a wedding planner for assistance. Wedding planners acknowledge your needs and wants whilst also considering the (less fun) practicalities of the wedding venues.

outdoor wedding reception at Cedar Creek Lodges in Gold Coast

Keep guests comfortable

Couples planning outdoor events always need to keep in mind how the guests will experience the outdoor wedding. Often outdoor wedding ceremonies look aesthetically beautiful yet are uncomfortable to experience. It can be easy to get side tracked when planning an outdoor wedding however, you'll want to keep your guests happy to make the wedding a day to remember for everyone.

Guest checklist:

  • Offer enough seating for your outdoor event. Whilst some guests will want to boogie on the dance floor to outdoor music late at night, others will want to enjoy a glass of wine on the sidelines.
  • Triple check your contingency checklist to make sure you're prepared for wet weather, hot weather or a snow storm! Ok, maybe that last one was a bit exaggerated.
  • Offer cozy blankets for guests to help themselves throughout the day and evening.
  • For evening weddings, provide bug spray or citronella candles to scare off pests.
  • Add signs directing guests to where they need to be to avoid confusion.
  • If necessary, find luxury portable restrooms for your guests!
  • Offer wedding favors to thank everyone for coming.

photo of bride and groom at cedar creek lodges outdoor wedding

Outdoor wedding planning tips

An outdoor wedding underscored with impeccable planning, is the secret to a dream wedding. Bring your dream wedding to reality with an outdoor wedding, you won’t regret it.

photo of seating chart at outdoor wedding in the Gold Coast

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