If you’re looking to tie the knot in the open air – we don’t blame you! Outdoor wedding celebrations can be breath-taking, and we love to photograph them. Sun flares, a light breeze and a green space – name a more perfect recipe for beautiful wedding photographs?!
Whether you dream of bare feet in the sand, little flower girls running through an open field or taking vows under the setting sun, we’ve used our years of experience in the wedding industry to compile an ultimate list of everything you’ll need to consider to ensure your outdoor celebration is a total success.
Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that our first 4 tips all relate to location! Location. Is. Key. And we want to use this opportunity to help you pick one that’s perfectly suited to you as a couple. Though there are often many additional elements to consider in the planning of an outdoor wedding (which we hope to cover here) with ample consideration the result can be something really beautiful, bespoke and totally unique to you.
And if you’re still on the fence about an indoor/outdoor celebration? Well, that makes sense! Niagara is spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor wedding venues… From vineyards to orchards to beaches and fields – what can’t this area offer?! If it’s helpful, you can check out our favourite venues here. In some cases, you actually get the best of both worlds, with options to have both outdoor and indoor elements to the day. But, if you have your heart set on a ceremony in the warmth of the mid-afternoon sun and a party in the cool of the evening, read on!
Okay, so while we’re keeping our fingers crossed for glorious sunshine and blue skies on your big day, having a plan in case of a rain shower is advised. From hair and make-up, to gowns and suits, table settings, flowers, food, and not to mention your guests dressed in their best – we know how much effort you’re putting into designing a seriously beautiful wedding day, which we think is so worth protecting in the event of unexpected weather! Please – give yourself the gift of peace of mind in knowing that, rain or shine, your day will be a dream come true.
Many guests opt for a tent or marquee as their covering of choice, which come in all different shapes, styles, sizes and price-points. Not only do they look gorgeous (check out this one at Kurtz Orchards!), and create a magical atmosphere, but they also make an excellent shelter from wind, rain, and hot summer sun – as do barns and covered patios.
Now, if you haven’t already, now is a great time to consider where the different elements of your day might take place, and therefore, what sort of backdrop you’d like for the precious moments we’ll be photographing. From getting ready with your favourite people, to the highly-anticipated first look (something we really recommend – see why here!), to the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, followed by dancing – you’ll want to make sure you’ve allocated spaces for each part of the day, as well as have a plan B for anything you’re hoping might take place exclusively outside.
For example, if your 20 minute ceremony is due to be on the beach, would there be space nearby to use as an alternative site in the event of rain? Or perhaps even a bit of breathing room in your timeline to push it back by 30 minutes in the unlikely event of a quick shower? (Bonus tip: have towels on hand for the chairs if rain is expected! A quick wipe-down takes 2 minutes, and it’ll be like it never happened…!)
We’re big advocates of considering these things ahead of time, simply because we want you to be able to totally relax and enjoy your wedding day when it comes, knowing that all possibilities are taken care of. And when you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself – this really shines through in your photos – trust us. You’ll be reliving that wedding day ‘glow’ through them for the rest of your lives!
Depending on how remote your location, it’s worth checking what facilities are available on site. Will it be necessary to arrange for portable washrooms, rent a kitchen for the caterers (often available through your tent company), and does the site have electricity (think of those string lights you’ve dreamt of!)? As much as a celebration in the wild sounds exciting, you’ll likely need consider these practical elements, especially in relation to the reception celebration. Caterers and DJ’s are the main venders to consider here, and for this reason, many couples opt for an outdoor location with facilities already available on site.
If you haven’t already, check out our favourite venues in Niagara here – which are perfectly set up and well-equipped to cater to special days like yours.
Furniture & rentals
Okay – so you’ve secured the perfect tent for an outdoor location of your dreams – but what next?! Well, this is the really fun part – you get to fill it with furniture for your guests! There are some fantastic furniture rentals in the Niagara Region that we’ve been lucky enough to work with on many occasions. Have you seen the selection at Simply Beautiful, or Gala Décor? These companies offer a wide range of tables, chairs, tableware, linens and drapery – that many people choose to add to their tent or barn by way of softening the edges. Just be sure to read the fine print on your rental agreement, as some companies have policies regarding where and how their furniture is used, and it’s worth noting that they’ll need to be able to deliver the furniture in a large van – so be sure to check they’ll have adequate access to the site.
A lot of couples, especially those creatively-inclined, love being able to select every detail of the design of their day according to their aesthetic preferences. So if you’re big into design – consider a tent wedding! It’s essentially a blank canvas (sorry) waiting to be uniquely decorated by you – just let your imagination lead the way…
Talking of fine print – don’t forget to read up on your local city’s bylaws regarding sound curfews and liquor licenses. Playing by the rules and respecting any laws associated with the location you’ve chosen is the only way to avoid the stressful consequences of ignoring them! While many designated wedding venues have these taken care of for you, in the event of a backyard celebration or wedding in the wild (!), you’ll want to make sure your plans fit within the requirements.
Prep your guests
Lastly, we recommend doing what you can to prepare your guests and loved ones to be comfortable on your wedding day. Why not use your invitations or wedding website to suggest appropriate attire and footwear (heels aren’t so fun in wet grass or sand)? Perhaps they’d benefit from an extra layer for the evening, or a hat for the sunny ceremony?
You might even consider having sunscreen or bug spray available in the washrooms, some umbrellas out for your cocktail hour, or blankets to cosy-up with in the evening. And, bonus tip, citronella candles are great for deterring bugs on those warm, summer nights.
Oh, and don’t forget about yourself, will you?! This is your special day, after all! Consider your outfit choice in light of your location. A heavy gown might be perfect in winter snow, but a little warm for a hot summer’s day?! And if you’re going to be outside in the evening – consider what sort of cover-up might complement your outfit, while keeping you warm and comfortable.
Finally – if you’ve got any questions, know that you’re always more than welcome to reach out to us. We want to use our experience and extensive knowledge of the area to serve you however we can.
Outdoor wedding celebrations are truly magical to experience. It’s as if they come alive with the sights, sounds and smells of the season – which makes for unforgettable memories just waiting to be captured!
If you need any last minute inspiration, check out some of these gorgeous outdoor celebrations (and beautiful couples!) we’ve had the privilege of photographing as you prepare to plan yours: