Wedding Tips #12 – Outdoors

Someone brought up OUTDOOR WEDDINGS…  if your wedding (and/or reception) is indoors, most of this won’t apply to you.  (Keyword is ‘most’).

First, and foremost, you have to consider the weather, not just THAT DAY… but the days previously. Most people worry about rain, but completely forget about temperature, sun, wind, and…. wait, wait for it… oh yes… SOFT GROUND! Sorta like that old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Rain is obvious, no one wants to stand out there all decked out in formal wear when it’s raining. But what if it rained a day or two before your special day?? Or, like the Happy Gilmore joke about meeting up on the 9th Green at nice o’clock… ask if SPRINKLERS were used on the ground the night before, and what their schedule is. The ground could become the dreaded ‘shoe eater’ – especially high heels. Carpet runners, and rug squares can solve that problem, but getting matching sets can be tough. Walmart has inexpensive rug throws… Home Depot & Lowes usually have runners. In some cities, ‘walk ways’ are rented. On real soggy ground, like a field that isn’t often walked on or packed down, I’ve seen people use sheets of plywood for the walk ways and staging areas. BUT BE AWARE, some plywood can be slicker than snot when it’s wet, and most guests won’t want to feel like they are walking on ice.

Wind can take out tents, covers, table clothes, plates of food, and will mess with virtually everything without weight and the surface area that isn’t tied down. Tying down the tent(s) and cover(s) are vital, even on still days. There are a few ways to effectively do that. If you aren’t sure what can work, feel free to ask… but the t-posts (used on farms) and ‘screw in’ (augers) tend to be the most common and best methods. Cinch straps (like truck tie downs) of bright colors usually eliminate or reduce the need for additional ‘ribbons’ to mark those straps people could trip over easily. Preparing an outdoor wedding for ‘worst case’ scenarios and the common elements will save you a great deal of headaches and heartaches IF something unexpected were to happen.

Interestingly, not only can the wind reek havoc on the covers, tables, chairs, and guests… but what about the veil? The dress?? Well, fishing weights, elastic straps, fishing line, or tiny zip ties, can help secure those things, or limit their movement. Two cautions: a) no one wants a fishing weight smacking them in the face, and b) make sure the material won’t rip or tear.

Earth, Wind, and Fire might have been a popular music ground in the 70’s… but it’s also something one MUST take into account at weddings. Still on the topic of wind… if you are planning to use candles, consider adding glass ‘hurricanes’ (covers) and weighted bases. If you are planning to use Tiki Torches, be sure to position them at least 50% further than their length from anything that could catch on fire if they are knocked down, or a gust of wind blows ashes or embers.

SUN is a commonly under planned culprit in outdoor weddings. Everyone thinks summer weddings in the sun will be pretty, and warm, easy, and happy… and they should be, with prior planning! Remember plopping (or gracefully sitting, for those that do that) down on your car seat after a couple hours at the mall? Yeah, and then either bailing out (not so gracefully), yelping (like a hurt puppy), or getting stuck to that nice burning hot leather or vinyl seat? Well, there is also the issue of seats being baked in the sun… throw towels or covers can help prevent  that. Don’t forget, as your guests don’t want a burned butt (or legs).

Oh, but what about… oh yeah, chairs on soggy ground? While your 80 yr old over weight cheek pinching, less than favorite, Great Aunt Margaret sinking into the ground and falling over might seem funny (now), the embarrassment and challenges of getting her back up and finding a seat that can be trusted should be a prior planning issue. Chair legs, like high heels, can and will SINK INTO SOFT GROUND. And, if they go unevenly, it can be a disaster. More sadly (or funny, depending on your sense of humor & desire for perfection), it can be like dominoes. Once one person starts to go, they could grab a chair next to them, and you could easily lose a whole row. I guess if you have relatives you don’t like, this could be planned, but honestly it’s a distraction and disruption… and the other guests won’t be sitting at easily for the rest of their stay. Using furniture coasters helps spread out the weight, and distributes it slightly better, and limit their sinkage. The key, KNOW YOUR GROUND! And think of your guests.

What about the sun? The angle & brightness aren’t just things that can heat up the chairs, but can cause everyone to either squint or wear dark glasses. For most portraits, people’s eyes and smiles are important, and slits don’t generally make for good photos. But hey, everyone will remember that glaring bright sun.  So, pay attention to the time of day, and the angles of not just the wedding precession, but of the guests too.  No one wants to be forced to stare into the sun… and moving things around at the last minute will be a stress. And dark glasses only look great on the Blues Brothers (or Men In Black) in photographs & videos, they aren’t cool for most people’s weddings… not even in Hawaii.

I’ve discussed bugs a bit in the previous tips… please refer to that, rather than bore you with too much repetition; but I felt it is worth reminding you. BUGS ARE ANNOYING! And the wrong type of bugs have ruined weddings.

Have a Backup Plan… just in case the weather turns on you. KNOW what the last minute options are if it starts raining, or a storm blows in.

Remember: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Prenuptial Performances.

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