details to look at when planning an outdoor wedding
you hire a professional wedding planner, she will
probably go over most of these issues with you. If
not, this info should help you avoid stress and
Have a backup plan in case of rain! I have seen
unexpected rain occur several times in my career
during May, June & July when rain should have
been almost impossible. It happens!
WEATHER MELTS WEDDING CAKES (our own wedding cake
started melting and nearly fell over.) Make sure
the cake table is not in direct sunlight! (Also
when locating your wedding cake's table, look at
the background because photographs will record any
ugly things like exit signs, coat racks and trash
DRINKS FOR GUESTS: Hot weather makes guests
miserable while waiting for the ceremony to begin,
and while waiting for family portraits to be
completed after the wedding. Have lots of ice cold
drinks available for guests during those times.
DRINKS DURING PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY: Heat will
affect the quality of wedding pictures (people's
expressions). The quality of those photos will be
strongly influenced by the reliability of the
person who is assigned to bring cold drinks to
people being photographed after the ceremony in the
get wilted in hot weather. Talk with your florist
about this or perhaps, choose silk
my wife and I got married the church's air
conditioner wouldn't work (it was a hot day in
August.) In retrospect we were very glad my wife
had chosen to go with silk flowers instead of real
flowers which would have badly wilted that day. It
was one less thing to go wrong.
weather is less of a problem than hot weather (as
long as it doesn't rain), you can always dress
warmer or dance harder to generate heat.
in the summer, some sites get cold after sundown.
So consider renting some portable propane heaters.
sitting around talking instead of dancing,
especially older folks, might appreciate propane
heaters. Guests who are comfortable will stay
longer and have fonder memories of your event.
of course have a Plan B in case of rain.
& MUSIC FOR THE
anyone hear the minister during the ceremony?
Can anyone hear the vows?
How about music for the processional and
MICROPHONE FOR THE CEREMONY: Outdoor weddings
really, really need a microphone and public address
amplifier & loudspeaker.
guests beyond the second row won't usually be able
to hear the minister or vows. Traffic noise, wind
noise, air conconditioner noise usually make it
nearly impossible for guests to hear.
Have a microphone and amplifier for use by the
minister. Ideally it should be a hand held mic and
the minister can hold it right in the bride's and
groom's face when they recite their vows. Vows are
usually very quiet because the bride and groom are
nervous and their voices don't have enough volume
to reach the minister's microphone that's a foot or
two away. The minister should be requested to use
the mic in a way to make the vows heard.
do you get a wireless microphone?
Most disk jockeys (if you hire one) can provide
this service. Some charge $150-200 over the regular
rate to do this and others will include this
service at no additional charge. But you MUST
request this service in advance from them.
Photographer Doug owns a professional Shure UHF
wireless microphone, plus amplifier and
loudspeaker. Having seen so many outdoor weddings
where nobody could hear anything, Doug purchased
this rather expensive equipment to have it
available. Ask Doug about availability if your disc
jockey can't provide a wireless mic for the
You can rent a wireless microphone and powered
loudspeaker from an audio visual rental company.
You will need some expertise to set it up properly,
have someone monitor its operation during the
ceremony, and have someone take charge of keeping
the equipment safe and returned afterwards to the
vendor. Professional powered speakers include an
auxiliary input allowing you to plug in a CD or MP3
player as well as a microphone. Last time I
checked, rental fees ran about $150-200.
for the ceremony:
If you hire a disc jockey he can usually provide
music for the ceremony's processional and
recessional. Before you sign a contract ask about
you DON'T have a disc jockey, you can use a CD or
MP3 player for the music. Although not ideal, a
high end boom box sometimes works for ceremony
music. A better solution is to use a high quality
stereo system and speakers at the ceremony site.
Have a boom box as a backup in case the stereo or
classic solution is to feed the CD or MP3 player's
output into a professional sound system. For
example, photographer Doug's wireless microphone
and amplifier system can accept an input from a CD
or MP3 player.
you hire a professional videographer he will
normally have a wireless microphone of his own
which transmits to the video camera. Newer
microphones will NOT normally interfere with a
sound system's wireless microphone.
the video and sound system microphones are not
compatible - you can't piggyback off the
videographer's wireless mic to use in a public
address system (it would cause feedback problems.)
you have an AMATEUR videographer, his
on-camera mic probably will NOT pick up the
minister or vows. The video camera needs to have a
mic (or wireless mic) within several of feet
of the bride and groom.
that reason the best place for an amateur video
camera is as close as possible to the ceremony
itself - not at the back somewhere, because it just
can't pick up good sound at a distance.
if you have a good public address system, and the
minister cooperates to hold the microphone up to
the bride and groom's mouths during the vows, an
amateur video camera may pick up the sound better.
you can afford it, professional video with a
wireless mic is a nice thing to
POWER PLUGS: City power is usually needed for
public address systems, DJ music amplifiers, coffee
makers, lights, catered food heaters, battery
rechargers for the video person, etc. If you are
going to have a public address system for the
cermeony, explore whether a socket is available
near the ceremony itself, and if so, is it turned
OF THE SUN: Try to find out what angle the sun
will be at during the ceremony. It's not good for
guests to be facing directly into bright sun if
it's possible to avoid that. The sun's angle
changes every few weeks. So you should visit your
wedding site about 10 days before the wedding in
case you want to make a last minute change in the
seating arrangements due to the sun's angle.
may need bug zappers especially in mosquito areas,
or at night when lights are on. Wedding guests who
are kept comfortable stay longer and have fonder
memories of your event.
FLOORS: If you rent a portable dance floor it
could be affected by sprinklers or drainage so look
into that. Also dance floors need to be installed
If your site has automatic sprinklers try to find
out what their schedule is.
For candles on tables use short candles in
hurricane type housings. Have a fire extinguisher
available just in case of wind knocking something
over... CANDLES DURING THE CERMONY: Sometimes
people use candles for an outdoor unity candle
lighting. I like the concept but the majority of
times I've seen it tried, the flames and wind
wouldn't cooperate with each other.
EXTINGUISHERS: Have a fire extinguisher always
nearby. At one outdoor reception I attended, a
beautiful ceramic Mexican chimera heater suddenly
shot flames up its chimney towards a tree. Nothing
caught on fire but it was a very close call.
Another chimera nearly caught a wooden deck on fire
due to heat going through on its bottom.
TALKIES: If the site is large or you want to
coordinate arrivals from one side of the site to
another, or parking and shuttle issues, you might
want to have 2 or 3 walkie talkies available for
coordination purposes. And fresh batteries.
Consumer grade walkie talkies are lucky to run 4
hours on fresh batteries. And the walkie talkies'
range is much shorter than what the package claims.
In the real world a "2 mile range" walkie talkie
will transmit 1/4 mile due to houses, buildings,
and trees in the way. And they will hardly transmit
at all from inside a car or truck.
FOR PORTRAITS: It is helpful if you can pick
out a location for family to be gathered for group
portraits. Portraits will go much faster if people
to be photographed can be gathered in one spot
after the cermeony. Try to avoid letting anyone
wander off "just for a minute" who will need to be
in the pictures. What happens is they'll get
chatting and you'll have to send a runner after
them. Every time you do that it delays you from
finishing the family pictures, and makes you later
and later at getting on with the party.
photographer may or may not be able to take group
pictures at the location you've picked out. It will
depend on what the lighting is like and this can
change from one minute to the next.
example a good photographer like Doug will avoid
using "speckled lighting" where sunlight
splotches shine randomly onto peoples' clothing in
an uneven way. Also a good photographer will use a
"fill flash" technique to back-light or side-light
people to avoid harsh shadows and squinting. See
fill flash link at the bottom of this page if you'd
like to see examples of it.
Above all else, plan your wedding day SCHEDULE with
the advice of your photographer, or with an
single biggest goof that brides make is to plan her
day using an over-optimistic schedule. Then the
real world happens: the hair appointment takes
too long, the ceremony starts late, the photography
takes longer than you thought, the limousine driver
is in a hurry, the chef says the food is getting
cold, and your stress level shoots up.
problems and their stress are 100%
--- just consult an experienced wedding
photographer like Doug or a professional planner to
help design your wedding day schedule. Listen to
their experience because in the real world,
Murphy's Law means things take longer than you
think. You can avoid problems by staying on
schedule (do NOT start your wedding more than 10
minutes later than the scheduled time), and plan an
appropriate amount of portrait photography time
into the schedule.
your photographer, I want your wedding day to
be stress free and awesome!