Friday, August 9, 2013

18 Considerations When Planning An Outside Wedding

So you’re planning an outside wedding?  Here are a few things to consider.  These considerations are not all-inclusive but simply a handful of ideas to get you in the planning mode.  Let us know if you have other helpful tips to add!

Mother Nature:

This will not be a surprise to serious planners but if you know anything about living in northeast Ohio, you know that the weather is unpredictable and can change quickly.  You will need to have a rainy day plan, meaning a protected area for guests to go to if weather should be severe.  I recommend planning your day assuming that the weather will be bad for part or all of the day.  I don’t want you to do this because I’m a pessimist (I’m not).  But I’ve learned that a little planning can go long way toward a successful event.  If the weather is nice – great!  If the weather gets nasty, you’ll be ready for that too!

Many clients rent a tent, choose a venue that is connected to or near a cabin, covered pavilion, deck, porch, barn, etc.  Your DJ and perhaps other vendors will be bringing equipment that needs to be protected in the event of rain such as a PA system, lighting, etc. and even a 10 minute rain shower can damage electronic equipment. So, having covered protected space is going to be important no matter the weather.

You’d be surprised at how many people believe that Mother Nature will respect their special day enough to forego bad weather.  It won’t rain on us… 6 months from now!  No need for rainy day plans – ugh!

Consider your guests.  You and your fiancĂ© may be outdoorsy people along with your close friends but not all of your guests are.  Severe heat or cold is tough on some older folks.  Will your grandparents be OK in 90-degree heat if it should be a hot day?  Just something to consider.. Be sure to share with your guests that your wedding ceremony and/or reception will be an outdoor event.  Share with them, too, if there will be protected areas from rain, sun, etc.

Here are just a few Mother Nature considerations:

1) Rain – Will you have cover? What can and cannot get wet? Where will guests gather if it should rain?
2) Drainage – Are you setting up guest tables on a high or low plateau? If it rains will water flow and puddle in that area or will it drain nicely away from the area?
3) Wet Ground – What if it rains the night before but stops on the morning of your wedding day?  The sun is out but the ground is wet and possibly muddy.  Are there walkways and/or concrete areas for guests to gather so that shoes don’t sink into muddy ground? If I had a dollar for every time I saw a female guest in high heals sink into the mud – I’d be RICH!
4) Wind – Not usually a problem but consider, what should be fastened down in case the wind picks up.  For example, if you are having your ceremony outside and you are using a runner for the aisle, you’ll surely want to figure out a way to prevent it from the affects of the wind. I’ve rarely seen a runner stay in place during an outside ceremony. Also, what about table centerpieces?  Make sure they’re heavy enough to withstand wind!
5) Heat – Again, there’s not much you can do if it’s really hot outside but guests will appreciate shady areas.  Make sure you have plenty of water available for guests to hydrate during the event.  Do not keep your wedding cake out for lengthy periods of time on a hot day.  I’ve seen a number of cakes melt, tilt, etc. due to extreme heat.  Have a protected, preferably cooler place for your cake to be kept until you plan on cutting and serving it.
6) Cool Weather – This isn’t the problem that a really hot day can pose but be sure to keep a sweater, jacket, blanket etc. handy if you should get an unusually chilly day in the middle of summer.
7) Bugs – Yes, I said BUGS! If you can, have the area sprayed a day prior to your wedding day to minimize bugs, spiders, mosquitos, etc.  Some clients also provide bug repellent torches for the event itself and spray repellent for guests if they choose to protect themselves.  I know this sounds crazy but… Contact a pest professional and ask them what bugs/pests are prevalent during that time of the year and what to do to minimize bug problems.  For example, for some reason, bees are angrier during the later months of summer and are more likely to sting – August & September.  A pest professional can give you tips on how to handle different types of bugs and other creepy crawlies.
8) Weather Radar – Just about everyone today has a smart phone with access to updated weather information. Have someone, a friend or family member, check the weather radar periodically during the event to stay informed about changes in weather – especially later in the evening when weather can change quickly in northeast Ohio.
9) Outside Noise – What?  Noise?  Yep. As DJ’s and sound professionals we’re always tuned into ambient noise.  A windy day can be noisy. Is your venue near water such as a lake or waterfall?  Animals, birds, etc. are noisy.  Is there a road or railroad tracks nearby?  There is more ambient noise outside than inside under controlled circumstances.  If you are having your ceremony outside, will your guests be able to hear your officiant declare you husband and wife?  We are often hired to provide a PA system, microphone and/or music for outside ceremonies.


Planning an informal outside picnic for a small group of guests is one thing but what if you are inviting a larger group of people to enjoy a grand celebration?  Yikes!  Here are just a few considerations…

10) Restrooms – Where will guests go to use the restroom?  Are the facilities adequate for your group size?

11) The elderly and guests with disabilities – Navigating uneven ground outside is typically not a problem for most people but what about your 85 year old grandmother?  What about anyone on your guest list who uses a cane or wheelchair?  Is your outside venue safe for them to navigate?  At the very least, delegate someone to assist the elderly or guests with disabilities when they need to move about the premises.  This will avoid trips, falls and other accidents and your guests will be glad that you considered their special needs.  Consider, what are other special needs for your older guests and those with disabilities?

12) Electricity – As DJ’s we always need access to electricity.  Probably some of your other vendors will also. Where are the electrical outlets for them to plug into?  Are they active?  Sometimes, if clients rent a park pavilion for example, the electricity needs to be turned on by the city or the park department before the event.  Don’t assume you have access to electricity at outdoor event venues.  Just something to look into prior to your special day.

13) Signage – How will your guests know where things are?  For example, do you need to post a sign directing guests where to park?  What about restrooms, food, etc.? Are there areas of your outdoor venue that you don’t want guests to access (especially children)? Mark those as well.

14) Lighting – When the sun goes down it will get pretty dark at your outdoor venue.  Is there adequate lighting for guests to be able to safely navigate the area at night?  Make sure you have at least some minimum lighting in the area to prevent guest accidents at night.

15) Basic first aid kit – Oh man, this is going to sound so campy… But, be prepared with a basic first aid kit if a guest should have a minor accident.  Being prepared in this way will minimize a guest’s small cut or bruise – especially if you are having children at your celebration.

16) Noise Ordinances – Check with area safety services to be sure you aren’t breaking any noise ordinances by gathering guests, playing music, etc.  Your DJ will appreciate not being approached by a police officer because he is breaking the law by playing music outside at 11PM.

17) Dance floor/area – If you intend on doing some dancing, be sure to have an even area at your outdoor venue for dancers.  Accidents can happen when people attempt to dance in an area that is uneven and/or otherwise not suitable to fancy footwork.  Consider renting a temporary dance floor under your tent or perhaps designate a deck, porch or some other even, safe area for dancing.  Preferably place your DJ near the dance area as he or she will want to be near the action and not on the other end of the yard from where dancers are doing their thing!

18) Check with your vendors – Each of your hired wedding professionals have their own special considerations regarding outside events.  The things that are important to your DJ/Band will be different compared to your photographer or catering team.  Be sure to share with your vendors your intention on having an outdoor celebration and ask them what they need from you in order to do a great job.  Also, ask for their advice.  Wedding professionals have probably worked hundreds of such events in the past and are more than happy to give you some tips and pointers on pulling off a great and memorable outside event.

We hope this article has helped you in some way, at least by giving you a few things to consider.  Please stay in touch with us if you think of other considerations we may have forgotten.  We’ll add them into the article in future updates.  Thanks in advance!

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