How to Plan and Prepare for the Best Outdoor Wedding

Imagine this —  your wedding day rolls around at your favorite outdoor venue in your area. You have a gorgeous archway filled with amazing florals that match your color palette to a T. 

best outdoor wedding planning with flower arches
Photo Courtesy of Highland Wedding String Quartet

It’s the middle of June, and as you peek from behind your hiding place, you see your guests start arriving. 

They’re sitting down. They’re talking with one another. Asking how they all know the couple. But then, one by one, you see each of them looking around with uncomfortable expressions. They’re using their hands or the ceremony program to fan air onto their faces. And you realize your outdoor summer wedding might come with a disaster or two. 

But don’t stress! Before that ever happens, we’re talking about how outdoor weddings can go wrong, and what you should do when it happens. So, you can still plan for your dreamy outdoor wedding ceremony, and relax knowing that you have a backup plan in case disaster strikes. 

Mother nature has her own plans

This is the main thing to think about if you’re planning either an outdoor wedding ceremony or an outdoor reception. 

When you plan for any event to be outside, you run the risk of exposing everyone to the elements of mother nature. 

outdoor wedding planning with venues, guest chairs and aisle
Photo Courtesy of Cloud Gate Wedding String Quartet

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take that risk! It just means you should have a backup plan for all of the ways mother nature might come at you on your wedding day. 

Too hot

If you’re having a summer outdoor wedding, go ahead and plan for it to be hot, no matter where you are. Whether it’s a midday or evening ceremony, those summer weddings can be sweltering. Think about this if you have guests who are older and who might be susceptible to high heat. 

And if you go through with a summer outdoor ceremony or reception, make sure you have a way to make your guests (and you, really!) more comfortable. 

Some of our favorite ways to do that: 

    • Turn your ceremony program into a fan for your guests to fan their faces.
    • Offer small water bottles right when guests walk in.
    • Try to find a spot at your venue that will be in the shade.
    • Plan for an evening wedding instead of a midday wedding so the sun won’t be at its peak, especially if you’re planning for a July or August outdoor wedding.
    • Offer small tubes of sunscreen when guests walk in.

Too cold

Okay, was there a TV wedding that was prettier than Phoebe Buffay’s winter wedding on Friends? If that’s the kind of wedding you’re hoping for, you’ll  need to plan to make your guests comfortable on your big day. 

Your guests won’t be able to hear a word the officiant or you and your partner are saying over their own chattering teeth if you don’t have a way to make them at least a little bit warmer. 

Here’s some of our favorite ways to do that: 

    • Cover your guests up by offering a blanket when they walk in.
    • See if you can’t find a way to bring heat either through heat lamps or a fire pit.
    • Offer warm drinks like hot chocolate, hot apple cider, or warm cocktails for your guests.
    • Plan your outfits accordingly as backless dresses will be super cold the whole time.


We all know the old saying — rain on the wedding day means good luck since a knot that becomes wet is harder to untie. But with an outdoor ceremony, rain on your wedding day can become a real problem. 

Here are just a few ways to plan for the rain ahead of time: 

    • Offer umbrellas as guests walk in to keep them covered from the rain.
    • Put a deposit down on a tent beforehand. If the weather turns ugly, you’ll have a way to keep guests dry.
    • Make sure to prepare for covering the food if you’re having an outdoor reception.
    • Go ahead and embrace the chance for rain. When you do that, you can stress less and enjoy your big day more! 

Lots of wind

Depending on your location, your outdoor ceremony might have to deal with high winds. So, to plan for that, here’s a couple things you can do: 

    • Weigh everything down. Whether it’s the wedding programs, your place cards, centerpieces, etc. Make sure you figure out a way to anchor everything to keep it from blowing around.
    • Secure your coverings. If you’ve got a tent or some kind of awning, make sure it’s securely in the ground before the ceremony and reception.

Pests and bugs

These are especially aggravating if you’re having a summer outdoor wedding. And your guests might not be able to pay attention to the ceremony if they’re too busy swatting away gnats or mosquitos. 

Here are a few ways to plan for tackling those nasty pests: 

    • Chat with your venue to make sure they do exterminating on the grounds.
    • Offer small bottles of bug spray to your guests as they walk in.
    • Use citronella candles in your centerpieces or in your ceremony decor.

Ceremony venues, locations, and vendors

Other than mother nature and her expertise at throwing a wrench in wedding day plans, there are a few problems that can come from ceremony venues, locations, and even your vendors that you’ll need to plan for. 


Using a tent or an awning for your outdoor ceremony or reception can come with its own disasters or, at least, small problems. The main one? Setting it up correctly. If a tent is keeping your guests comfortable from heat, cold, or rain, it’s crucial that it’s set up the right way so it doesn’t topple over. 

If your wedding venue doesn’t offer tent set up on the day of, think about hiring a service to do it for you. It’s definitely something that you nor the wedding party needs to worry about on the big day. 

Electricity and WiFi

While you’re scoping out your wedding venue, make sure you ask locations about their electricity and WiFi. 

Even if you’re having your outdoor ceremony or reception under a tent, you’ll still need a way to light up the interior. Ask your venue if they have a way to run lighting outside. 

Having a great WiFi signal is important if you’re planning on live streaming your wedding ceremony and reception. Ask your venue about their WiFi signal, and of course, check it out for yourself, too. 

String quartets and musicians

If you’re planning to hire a string quartet for your outdoor ceremony, you’ll need to keep your venue in mind. 

Instruments cannot be exposed to direct sunlight. The intense heat that comes from overhead sun puts the instruments out of tune, messes with the rosin, and makes the bow hair slippery. Not to mention, it can heat up the glue that binds parts of the violin which can result in an open seam. It’s incredibly dangerous for the instrument, and you’ll end up with an outdoor ceremony that doesn’t have the beautiful music you wanted. 

how to plan an outdoor wedding with a string quartet
Photo Courtesy of Sarah Nungester, Meghan Premuda and Kirkwood Wedding String Quartet

To plan for that, your string quartet needs to be under a dinner table umbrella. That shade from the direct sun will help to make sure you have all of the music you wanted during your outdoor wedding ceremony! 

On the other hand, string quartets can only play their instruments outside if temperatures are over 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you know you want an outdoor wedding ceremony and a string quartet to give you that gorgeous, elegant mood for your wedding, we recommend choosing a date in June, September, or October as those are generally the safest months no matter where you are. 

Outdoor weddings can be some of the most fantastic, dreamiest weddings! But they can quickly turn into a disaster if it starts to rain or gets way too hot. Take these tips into consideration as you plan for your outdoor ceremony so you’ll be prepared for whatever happens!