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Outdoor Weddings…Heaven Sent or Headache?

Photography by Steve A. Hutchison Article by Julie Albaugh

In the 20 plus years that I’ve been involved with weddings the biggest difficulty has always been with outdoor weddings. Why are outdoor weddings more difficult to execute? Because most of the time an inclement weather backup plan didn’t exist. And even when there is a backup plan, it isn’t rehearsed causing confusion on the wedding day. Relying on the false hope that “it’s not going to rain on my wedding day” guarantees unbearable heat, rain, snow or ice will turn the day from delightful to disastrous. The following is my eye witness account of the best and the worst outdoor weddings I ever attended at Polen Farm – a beautiful and popular wedding venue located in Kettering, Ohio.

The best wedding took place on a beautiful day with no rain. The bride was radiant in a southern belle style dress and the dashing groom was outfitted western style, cowboy boots and all. The picture perfect wedding was published in Modern Bride Magazine.

The worst wedding took place on a rainy day (so much for false hope) and the couple did have a back up plan. But because no one had been formally designated to put the backup plan into action if inclement weather ensued, the situation was grim. Instead of the wedding taking place in the amply sized barn as the backup plan indicated, the ceremony was moved to a small room in the main farm house. Only a few friends fit inside to witness the ceremony, while the remainder of guests stood outside in the rain on tiptoes, holding umbrellas peering inside for a glimpse of the wedding. All of this happened because no one was appointed to administer the backup plan, set up the barn in advance –just in case, and no rehearsal took place in the barn.

To ensure your outdoor wedding is a best and not a worst;

  • Hire a wedding coordinator. It’s their job to pay attention to weather conditions and know when to put the alternative plan into place
  • Select a venue complete with an indoor alternate location for the ceremony and reception.
  • The time of day is critical with outdoor weddings –avoid the hottest (or coldest) part of the day
  • Have water (or a hot beverage) on hand for guests
  • Make sure EVERYONE knows the backup plan
  • Rehearse in the primary event location AND in the backup event location
  • If you select a tent, insist on a solid floor surface. It’s a wedding, not mud wrestling (Remember the movie Betsy’s Wedding?)
  • Storms, tents, and electricity create danger. Don’t rely on a tent for total protection.

Plan ahead, enlist the help of a coordinator, and practice until it’s perfect so you can enjoy a stress free outdoor (hopefully) wedding.