Tip #2 – Picking Your Venue (part 1)

outdoor-wedding

One of the biggest decisions you will make in planning your wedding is whether you want to have an indoor or outdoor ceremony. Many couples love the idea of having an outdoor wedding – often with good reason. Maybe there is a specific location that has significant meaning for them and they want it to serve as the backdrop for their nuptials. Or they love the idea of their feet buried in white sand while gentle waves serenade the ceremony. Sometimes it just feels like an institution as ancient and foundational as marriage is best entered into in the raw foundations of nature. And it makes sense… after all, our first parents formed their union among the trees and bushes of Eden, why wouldn’t we do the same?

And here’s the naked truth – there are LOTS of reasons.

For a lot of couples their only concern when considering an outdoor wedding is rain. And they figure that as long as they have a backup plan (ie – the country club has a large tent that can serve as an emergency alternative), they are willing to take the risk. And rain can obviously be an issue. But in my experience, it’s usually other stuff that gets in the way of getting married outdoors. Here’s the shortlist:

Wind – A very gentle breeze is great for a wedding, anything more than that is bad news. Candles are useless. It’s not an encouraging sign when a couple lights a unity candle after their vows and then God keeps blowing it out. Kind of makes you feel like you made a mistake.

And even if you skip candles, wind is disruptive. Dresses fly up, musicians struggle to keep their pages on the stand, people that are reading (Scripture readers, the pastor, parents with a written prayer) fumble over the pages as they are blown to and fro. At a wedding I officiated near the ocean in Boston the gorgeous flowered arbor that we were standing under was blown off its foundation and collapsed mid-ceremony.

And most disruptive of all, wind wreaks havoc on amplification and video recording microphones. Imagine a wedding ceremony (or wedding video) where everything that is said is covered over by the sound of rushing wind and no one can hear anything clearly. It’s no fun.

Heat – At a summer wedding on the coast of Rhode Island, I had just finished leading the bride through her vows when all of a sudden her bridesmaid and soon to be sister-in-law collapsed behind her in a pile on the ground. The bridesmaid’s father (and father of the groom) leaped from his chair to tend to his beloved daughter. Soon she was revived and all was well, but it gave everyone a scare.

Of course, that’s a unique and dramatic response to heat. Far more typical is that guests are overheated and uncomfortable, fair skinned attendees who forgot to apply sunscreen bake in the sun, and makeup begins to run so the bride has black tear streaks in the pictures.

Sound – it’s amazing how many sounds you hear outdoors when you’re paying close attention. Like birds that won’t stop singing, or planes that fly overhead and make it difficult for people to hear, emergency vehicles with their sirens on, or a golfer that sinks a birdie putt on the nearby 18th green and screams in celebration, not realizing that you are trying to conduct a sacred ceremony on the terrace.

The list here could go on and on – mosquitos or black flies that come out at dusk, the clump of grass that can trip up more elderly guests, you get the idea.

My aim here is not to dissuade you from having an outdoor wedding, only to get you thinking past the question of, “but what if it rains?” Outdoor weddings can be absolutely beautiful and a ton of fun, but they require a lot of thoughtful planning and even then mother nature may have plans that day that are beyond your control.

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