9 Tips for Outdoor Weddings: How to Prepare for Your Big Day
Everyone looks incredible. The weather is perfect. The colors are spectacular and everyone in the wedding party and on the guestlist looks happy. Your outdoor wedding is about to start.
Although everything might seem perfect in this moment, outdoor weddings can take a turn for the worst in only a few minutes. If you don’t have a roof over your head and climate control to keep your guests comfortable, your entire wedding is at the mercy of Mother Nature.
But with some advanced planning, you can eliminate or minimize the effects of these outdoor factors.
Preparing for Your Outdoor Wedding
Outdoor weddings are growing in popularity not only because of the season but also because of the coronavirus. With COVID-19 a threat during weddings, many brides and grooms are following CDC guidelines to socially distance outside for extra protection against the virus. Whatever your reason for holding an outdoor wedding, here’s how you can prepare:
1. Heat: Think about keeping cool. Because most outdoor weddings occur in Spring, Summer and Fall, high temperatures can come into play. You don’t want your guests baking in the sun for 30 minutes before the procession starts or have them leave with sunburn as a party favor. A few suggestions: Start on time so no one has to be out there longer than necessary. Make sure people are aware, in advance, that this will be outside and, possibly, unshaded so they can prepare with sunblock, hats or an umbrella. Provide a small tent so people can retreat into some shade before or during the service. Offer cooled water bottles and even chilled washrags to provide some relief. Many couples order customized fans so the guests can create their own little breeze. Some fans can even double as programs for the ceremony. Allow at-risk and elderly guests to stay in a building with AC until the last minute before the big event begins.
2. Cold: How will you stay warm ? We recently performed at an outdoor wedding on May 9. It was 36°F when the bride came down the aisle. No one would have expected that, but it happened. The bride was determined to keep it outside and smiled through the whole thing. We also booked one for February 14 in Virginia where they plan to have it outside. Suggestions: Alert the guests beforehand that the wedding will be outside so they can dress appropriately. Offer packs of hand warmers so guests can put them in their pockets. Rent portable heaters to offer some comfort. Any protection from the wind is a good thing on cold days.
3. Wind: Could it become a problem ? Wind is hard to predict and plan for, but anything can happen! We have seen brides’ veils get blown off, an officiant have their notes blown into a lake, a customized mirror welcoming guests get blown off a stand, a unity candle that won’t light, musicians sheet music sail off a stand and across a field, the aisle-runner whipping into a twisted mess and ceremony programs floating into the air and littering the lawn. Suggestions: consider a wind-friendly unity ceremony, hand out programs instead of placing them on seats, and have a backup copy of the ceremony notes handy, to name a few.
4. Rain: Can you get wet ? Here’s hoping you get a beautiful, clear sky on your wedding day, but that little black cloud could appear and disrupt your plans. Suggestions: Have a Plan B. A different location or inside option is most important. Set a time to make the call and determine, once and for all, where your wedding will take place. Remember, people have to be moved, chairs may need to be wiped down, and sound and video equipment need to be reset and tested. Check the weather radar. Things may look grim two hours before the start time, but with the help of technology, you might see some clearing coming which would make it worth holding out for a bit.
5. Noise: How loud are your surroundings ? Whether it’s in the city or in the country, you might be surprised how loud your surroundings are. Traffic, AC units, helicopters, and even babbling brooks can create distracting background noise.
6. Sound: Can people hear ? In an outdoor setting, the human voice does not carry as well as in a church or other acoustically complimentary spaces. The Officiant does 90+% of the talking, so they would be most important to be heard. A handheld wireless mic on a stand offers the most flexibility because the Officiant can talk and then spin it around toward you so we can hear your vows. Then spin it back. The Officiant can also step away for a reader to use the mic. The clip-on lapel mic is popular because there is no stand in the photos, but they are not as flexible because they cannot be shared and are prone to feedback and other tech issues. Suggestion: Ask your Officiant if they provide their own sound—many do now. Check with your venue to see if they offer that service—some do. Your musician(s) or DJ may be able to provide this, but there could be an extra charge for the time and/or equipment rental
7. Seating/chair spacing: Make people comfortable. Most outdoor wedding venues have plenty of space, so why are the chairs set up touching each other on each side ? Most people are wider than the chair, so they have to uncomfortably rub up against each other in a completely preventable way. Suggestions: Request that chairs be spaced “two-fists” or at least 6-8 inches apart. Also include an EXTRA two feet between rows front to back so tall people’s knees don’t bump up against the chair in front of them. This also allows latecomers and people who have to excuse themselves during the service to do so with minimal disruption. Avoid seating with any metal components because they get hot.
8. Music: Make sure people can hear ! Because there is no built-in music, you have the choice of live music or DJ recorded music. There is no wrong answer depending on the style of music you want. Suggestions: Consider amplification for the instruments. Most acoustic instruments are not designed to be amplified, so you cannot expect a solo Violin or Cello player to have that service to offer. Some do and we recommend it for many outdoor settings. Keyboards, amplified guitars, electric violins and DJs usually provide their own sound, but ask to make sure.
9. Distancing: Is everyone healthy ? We’ve seen more and more couples choose outdoor weddings partially as a way to combat the coronavirus. If you plan to hold your wedding during the COVID-19 outbreak, consider ways to keep everyone healthy and safe. Social distancing with chairs and tables is a good first step in keeping your wedding coronavirus-free, and slashing your guest list to only the most essential people is another. You could also consider our Micro Luxury Weddings as an option for a high-class wedding without the risk of a large crowd.
Bonus Tip: Expect the unexpected. Picture this: A resident goose blocks the aisle as the Bride enters for her Procession and then sits on her train during the service, elderly Aunt Phyllis turns an ankle on the uneven grass or gravel and needs medical attention, the Bride’s veil gets snagged in a sharp edge of a concrete step or a pack of motorcycles roars by as you are doing your vows. These are all things that happen.
You may experience one or two – or none – of these issues during your outdoor wedding, but you can smile, wait and proceed because the most important thing is that in a few minutes you will be married and the celebration can begin.
Steven Vance has provided high-quality corporate entertainment and wedding music for over 20 years and more than 10,000 special events in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, DC, Virginia, New York, and surrounding areas.
Steven Vance Entertainment
YES, we are doing micro-weddings and mini-ceremonies. Ask us to put together a special package for you to get married NOW with all the style, class and fun our music can add.
KEEPING UP WITH STEVE
SATURDAY AUGUST 8
Steve will be doing PopRock Electric Violin and DJ Package for a wedding at Sea Cliff Manor in Long Island NY.
SUNDAY AUGUST 9
Steve will be playing PopRock Electric Violin for a Ceremony and Reception at Bella Sera Event Venue.
We will also have performers doing weddings at Uniontown Country Club, Carrolltown Golf Club in Carrolltown OH, Landoll's Castle in Loudonville OH and St. Stephen Church in Sewickley.
Saturday August 15 Steve will be rocking the Electric Violin at Frescos at The Chadwick on Perry Highway in Wexford from 7-9 PM. Covered outdoor dining. Reservations highly recommended because of limited seating. Go to https://www.frescospittsburgh.com/ or call 724-935-7550 for details.
FACEBOOK LIVE GIGS. We've had a wonderful turnout for these so we plan to keep doing at least one every week. Electric Violin live from my back deck - if the weather is nice. The next one will be posted here and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Update soon.
Go to my Facebook page (link below) to watch. LIKE my page so you can check announcements and see invites. SHARE with your friends are my new friends. In the meantime, you can also watch all of the sessions (15) we've done so far. Many of them are now posted on our YouTube Channel. Click the icon above.
Steve plays "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tommy James And The Shondells and covered by Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day. PopRock Cello plays "Best Day Of My Life" by the American Authors PopRock Violinist Charles May plays Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself" Steve plays Electric Violin on the new Duo Lipa song "Don't Start Now"
"Steve was a must-have for our wedding as he did my sister's 8 years ago (and we loved him) and should be a must-have for your event! Not only does he do an amazing job MC'ing and DJ'ing, and running the event, but the live violin - WOW! The violin adds elegance to your event that guests will continue to talk about for years to come. Steve also is an expert in the field, leaving no worries for the bride-to-be in the event. I knew our reception would run perfectly with him in charge and it did. Highly recommend!!" Paige & Russ 3/14/20 Soldiers & Sailors Hall
“My husband and I cannot recommend Steven Vance and his team enough! We first encountered Steven Vance at a cousin’s wedding in October of 2018 and we absolutely fell in love with the unique blend of pop-rock violin with DJing! For our own wedding, we had the absolute pleasure of working with Nate Goodrich. During the planning process, Nate did a wonderful job of ensuring that he understood exactly what we wanted and helped make sure the flow of the evening was perfect! Nate did an absolutely incredible job ensuring that our cocktail hour and reception went perfectly. For our cocktail hour, Nate performed a variety of pop-rock violin selections that we and our guests absolutely loved. To this day we are receiving compliments on how wonderfully he played and how unique the experience was. To say the least, having Nate perform during the cocktail hour definitely took our wedding to the next level! As for the reception, he did an EXCELLENT job of keeping our guests on the dance floor and having a good time! What was most impressive is that he selected music that kept guests of all ages moving! Along with the wonderful music selections, Nate did an amazing job of keeping the evening well-paced without feeling rushed. Overall, we would absolutely recommend Nate Goodrich to anyone who is planning a wedding! Thanks to Nate, we had an absolutely unforgettable wedding day!” Zach & Rose 2/29/20 Marriott Hotel Cranberry Electric Violin & DJ Nate
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 13 - RESCHEDULED FROM SUNDAY MARCH 29 AND JUNE 14
Look for us at the Pittsburgh Bridal Showcase at the David Lawrence Convention Center from 12-4:30 PM.