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Things to consider for your outdoor wedding or event

Living in Texas, there are certain times of year when outdoor weddings are absolutely ideal, and as such, exceedingly popular.  Of course, now is not that time!  We’re in the heat of summer and it’s hard to imagine doing anything outside that involves more than a bathing suit and a beach towel, much less a full wedding gown and heels or a formal tux!  But, I know there are a lot of couples out there, several of our clients included, that are making their last minute wedding preparations for the fall (September-October) or beginning to make arrangements for their spring wedding next year (April-May).

Royal Fig has been fortunate to serve and coordinate many outdoors weddings in the past year, and we’ve learned a few rules.  But I did a little research to see if what we learned were sort of universal truths in the wedding industry.  Turns out they are!  I came across this incredible article by Nina Callaway at About.com that really sums it up well.  I cannot think of a better list of Top-10 Outdoor Wedding Tips than this!  Enjoy!

1)    Make your guests comfortable. Think about what the weather will likely be at the time of day and month of the year of your outdoor wedding. Sunny and hot? Don’t leave your guests uncomfortably melting – have your ushers give guests ice-cold bottles of water as they are seated. Consider printing your wedding program on a fan so that guests may cool themselves. Don’t forget to have plenty of sunscreen on hand as well. For a very warm location, look into renting large electric fans (don’t forget a generator) and/or a tent to shade the sun’s rays. If it will be cold and damp, make sure you tell guests that so they can wear extra layers. A simple xeroxed insert will do. You might want to have lap blankets on hand, or rent portable heaters.

2)    Have a backup plan. What will you do if it rains? The ideal outdoor wedding location has an indoor location waiting just in case. Many brides and grooms opt to have their ceremony outside and reception inside. In a pinch, the tables can be scooted to the back of the room during the ceremony. A tent is another option, but only for light to moderate rain storms. A heavy rain will soak the ground underneath, leaving guests with soggy and muddy shoes. Make sure any tent you rent is sturdy so it won’t flip over, and that it has thick and weighted sides.  We love to recommend Premiere Tents and Events for all of your tenting needs!

Chance of rain? Opt for a tent!

Same goes for our mobile kitchen

3)    Plan for Wind.  Many outdoor weddings suffer from windy conditions. Avoid light fabrics like chiffons and china silks in your dress and the bridesmaid dresses. Tell your hairstylist that you’ll be having an outdoor wedding so she/he can plan a style that won’t leave you looking like Cousin It!  Men in the wedding party should use pomade or other styling product.  Again, tell your guests in a printed insert so that they can plan accordingly. And of course, make sure your tent will stand up to gusting winds or find an indoor backup plan.

We know a thing or two about windy wedding conditions! Always have back up linen clips and shims to level your tables.

4)    Can everybody hear? When you picture your dream wedding at the beach, you’re probably not hearing the roaring of the waves, the rushing wind, or the local kids running and screaming around you. Look into renting a sound system with clip mikes for the couple and officiant. Your DJ or band may be able to easily arrange this for you.

Memory Lane Event Center has a great set up for ceremony musicians!

5)    Decorations. One of the bonuses of an outdoor wedding is the natural beauty around you, lessening your need to decorate. But you still need to do some work. Visit the site a week before your wedding to make sure the grass is mowed, the ground raked, and the flowers have bloomed. If your wedding is at a public park, you may want to ask the bridal party or friends to do this the morning of your ceremony. If it’s been an especially cold season, you may need to supplement the flowers with some potted bulbs from a florist. Other decorations you may want to consider include an arch or trellis to focus the ceremony and frame the couple as they say their vows; strings of lights or lanterns in the trees; luminarias; torches; or farolitas.

These Chinese lanterns added a nice punch to the natural landscape

Vista West Ranch provides a perfect backdrop for an outdoor ceremony. Floral by Petal Pushers and coordination by Lizze Belle Events

Another great shot from a wedding we catered at Vista West Ranch. Photography by the Nichols. Click the picture for more pictures from this beautiful rustic wedding.

6)    Make things tasty outside.  Does your caterer have experience planning an outdoor wedding menu? Make sure they’re planning things that will keep well outdoors in the heat. Avoid things like mayonnaise salads or dishes which must be served cold.

7)    Don’t leave your guests parched.  Since alcohol is dehydrating, consider serving a variety of lemonades, teas and punches. Be sure to have plenty of ice and water around as well. For a fancy cocktail, why not serve a classic mint julep or a mojito? The mint will refresh and cool your guests.  Check out our beverage menu for a list of options!

Ice-Cold, refreshing margaritas to greet guests as they arrive! We prepared 350 of these cocktails for guests at a corporate party we catered at the Mexican American Cultural Center.

We made a prickly pear margarita to match the bride's dress!

Guests helped themselves to this outdoor drink station before the ceremony started. It kept everyone cool! Our fresh squeezed lemonades even come in a variety of seasonal flavors.

8)    Those pesky flying things.  Be sure to put out citronella candles or a bug zapper so that your guests won’t spend the whole ceremony swatting at the air.

9)    Here comes the sun.  Consider timing your outdoor wedding for sunset where your guests will see you take your vows surrounded by the warm glow of the sun. Those having a daytime outdoor wedding should orient the ceremony so that the sun will be on guests’ backs rather than in their eyes.

The sun was really shining on this day at Zilker Clubhouse! The ceremony was held inside while the sun went down.

10)    Permits.  Don’t forget to contact your city parks department or other local government to get a permit for an outdoor wedding. Be sure to ask about rules concerning trash removal, candle or torch lighting, and pre-wedding photography.

This short list of do’s and don’ts can really save your outdoor wedding and make it picture-perfect, just like you imagined.

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