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Professional Tips to Ensure a Snafu-Free Outdoor Wedding

Industry experts offer up their advice for managing Mother Nature on your big day.
By: 
Sara Hubbard

Hosting weddings al fresco has become more and more common with pandemic safety concerns bringing celebrations outside. While there is little that is more romantic than a barefoot beach wedding or a woodland nuptials, the uncontrollable and often unpredictable forces of nature can quickly turn the perfect day to ruin. Not to fear, though, as we’ve compiled the best advice from wedding pros to keep everything under control. From seating charts to venue, take a scroll down to find the best ways to mitigate disaster when celebrating lifelong love in the great outdoors.

Wide Open Spaces

Keeping your celebration safe means keeping everyone at a distance. Find a location with lots of open space that makes it easy to socially distance your guests. Also, figure out a seating chart ahead of time. Knowing which of your guests live in the same household means you can cluster them together – thereby letting everyone be separate yet together. Communication and organization is key here. Have your calligrapher put together a seating chart and name cards to provide a gentle yet clear reminder that caution is of the utmost importance. “Invest in signage and have a back-up plan just in case,” says Abby Hanson, wedding manager at the St. James Hotel.

Be Prepared!

“Outdoor ceremonies can be beautiful in Minnesota, but you also have to plan for all of the elements. Whether having a backyard wedding or having your ceremony at an outdoor venue, be sure to spray for mosquitoes. You don't want to be swatting while saying ‘I Do!’ Other helpful tricks: Be sure any ladies in the wedding party are wearing appropriate shoes - say no to stilettos and yes to wedges or flats; offer pre-ceremony cocktails, like a champagne cart to give it a more elegant look. In general, spending money on candles and lighting can be a waste, as it will likely be too bright to see them, so spend your money on fresh floral and fabric draping for a dramatic effect. Lastly, having blankets, fans, or umbrellas available (depending on the atmosphere) helps to create a more comfortable environment for your guests,” says Michelle Bredeson of Bold North Cellars.

Always Have a Back-up Plan

The only guarantee in an outdoor wedding is unpredictability. But even if the worst-case scenario ends up coming true, remember that the spirit of the day is rooted in love. “Have a stress-less outdoor wedding by choosing a venue that has options to choose from in case of change due to weather. Have those conversations ahead of time and plan for A,B and C options! Work with your venue coordinator and/or wedding planner to have either a tent on back up, or a plan for moving into your reception space/alternative space with covering if possible! If one of your alternative plans is to switch your space, find a way to incorporate the initial atmosphere so it still feels like your original plan. Don’t stress too much on what you can’t control! At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you will be married!” says Cynthia Strauser, the events manager as Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery.

Make it an Option to Move the Festivities Indoors

“In Minnesota we love to take advantage of those warm weather days when we get them! An outdoor ceremony, al fresco cocktail hour, or a special first dance under the café lights are popular options in our gorgeous courtyard. But as Minnesotans, we also know to be prepared for all types of weather at all times. Which is why indoor/outdoor space is key! With beautiful indoor and outdoor options available, and a seamless flow between the two, our couples can rest assured, knowing they will have a stunning backdrop for their day, no matter the weather,” says Nicki Gavin, marketing and event sales director at The Hutton House.

Check the Forecast. Then Check it Again

Rain may be the first fear that comes to mind when considering how Mother Nature may misbehave, but there are many other ways she can wreak havoc as well. Remember that extreme heat, high winds or high humidity can all take a toll on you and your guests. Tents can be a good solution to any number of meteorological mishaps – blocking out harsh sun as well as rain. If you know it’s going to be hot, have personalized fans made that can double as ceremony programs or include your monogram. Providing chilled bottles of water or other beverages will also keep your guests happy as they enjoy your big day. “Comfort is key!! Not only for the bride and groom but also for your guests. Make sure you plan in advance to ensure you and your guests are able to fully enjoy your lakeside ceremony,” says Marc Anderson, the visual media manager at the Lafayette Club.

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