Simple Tips on How to Plan for An Outdoor Wedding
By Lorna Urwin

28 June 2017

In a country as beautiful as New Zealand, a wedding that takes place partly or wholly outdoors is almost always an excellent idea! But being exposed to the elements brings with it plenty of unpredictability. Read on for advice on planning for your outdoor wedding, no matter what the weather throws at you!

1/ Consider insurance

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Image by Avodah Photography

Insurance is something to consider for all weddings, but outdoor settings in particular! This isn’t something every couple goes for, but it’s worth looking into the types of coverage available (and details over exclusions and excesses) and whether you think the cost could be worthwhile to give you peace of mind in case things go awry.

2/ Check past weather

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Image by Patina Photography

You’ll likely have a rough idea of what weather to expect in your given location for the month of your wedding date, but you can confirm your suspicions by looking up past weather data from the last few years., for example, holds monthly information for Wellington going back to September 2009, including the wind, humidity levels and high and low temperatures.

3/ Discuss with the venue

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Image by Fineline Photography

Outdoor settings vary considerably. Whether you’ve chosen a beach, garden or a vineyard, each place will come with individual benefits and challenges. 

The contact at your venue will be your most valuable resource in helping you to prepare for what to expect – after all, they’ve done it all before in your exact chosen spot! They should be able to explain any needs specific to the site and/or the time of year. (Will the grass be too muddy for heels? Are there issues with noise, or is a curfew in place? Where you can conveniently set up outdoor lighting? Etc.).

4/ Concoct strategies for minor challenges

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Image by Michael + Anna Costa Photography

Armed with all this information about your venue’s challenges and the likely weather, the next step is to plan for how you’ll deal with any minor difficulties that you’ve already encountered, or that may arise. 

As above, many challenges will vary according to your venue. But all outdoor venues share exposure to the elements, which means you may need to prepare for bright sunshine, rain, hot or cold temperatures, wind, terrain and/or insects! With these, your main concern will be comfort – for you, the bridal party, any vendors and the rest of the guests. Some useful approaches include:

  • Warn your guests – if you know in advance of the wedding that something might be an issue, share this information with your guests and make recommendations for things they might bring to make themselves more comfortable (suncream, sunglasses or a parasol; a warm layer or blanket; an umbrella; insect repellent). You might post this on the wedding website, or send a quick note via email.
  • Bring supplies – certain solutions may be easier to effect from your side (like offering water on a hot day or installing outdoor heaters for a brisk forecast). If you were unable to give your guests adequate warning, you may even want to provide certain useful items (like sunglasses, blankets, umbrellas and parasols).

5/ Have a backup plan for major challenges

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Image by Nicole Vaughn

For any event that takes place outdoors – the ceremony, cocktails, lawn games, the reception – ensure you know what you will do if it becomes impossible to remain outdoors. Does the venue have its own indoor facilities? Are you able to set up a marquee for cover? (If not, is there a suitable alternative venue available?)

Though it’s wise to scope out your options, you don’t need to commit to (or pay for) these plans until much nearer the wedding date when the weather forecasts can indicate with more accuracy whether it’ll be sunshine or a shower (or a downpour!) on the day. Check with the venue or other suppliers to ascertain the latest that you can arrange the alternative to ensure you don’t leave it too late!