Preparing for an Outdoor Wedding: 5 Things You Don't Want to Think About but Should
When I planned my wedding, five very interesting years ago, I based all preparation around one thing: the outdoors. I wanted an outdoor wedding. I wanted the countryside, I wanted a tent, I wanted twinkling fireflies and lanterns, and I wanted to send the sun off in a whirl of merriment and music.
Cute of me. As innocent about the event as I was about marriage (it's not that bad, honest!)
I didn't have a wedding planner, my mother was overwhelmed, my best girlfriends were flying in from New York City and my husband-to-be knew better than to get in the way of my laser-eye wedding craze, and so I had few people to help me sweat the small stuff—the crisis response; the logistics of an outdoor wedding.
The result of my planning was the equivalent of wearing a really nice top but no pants: the wedding looked just as I had imagined, but then a totally unexpected, HUGE storm hit, and all hell broke loose. We were completely unprepared (remember Betsy's Wedding?)
I don't want to jinx myself by saying, "If I had to do it all over again...," so I'll simply say, from a lady who's been there, here's what you need to consider when planning an outdoor wedding:
Venue Indoor Capacity
Outdoor weddings typically happen in association with an inn, a restaurant, an institution, or a private home. No matter what the weather report says, make sure there is an indoor Plan B. Ours was a tiny inn, which had no hope in hell of accommodating my 85 guests indoors. Make sure staff have umbrellas on hand to walk guests insides, and even if you need to flip the arrangement into buffet-style, standing-room-only, make sure you have at least that option—you may only need it for a little while.
The storm that hit my wedding came fast and furious, wielding comic-book lightning bolts. Our tent was supported by the standard two metal poles, in a field. Rain lashed in despite our best efforts and the wooden floor turned into instant wading pool. As dread began permeating the crowd, the sharpest of my guests had already googled the record number of people to get electrocuted at the same time: 80. At least we'd set a new record. Lessons learned?
- Make sure you opt for a floor (the grass was soooo soggy around the tent) and have venue staff be prepared to sweep water off that floor, in case it rains (our staff deployed those school-wide brooms that worked like a charm)
- Make sure the tent has scrim walls that can be easily and quickly drawn down
- If you can, ask for the tent to be set up near something that is higher than itself, like a tree or building. I know I sound crazy, but you don't want to court lightning bolts...
One blessing is that I went very simple on the decor. The spot was so beautiful it didn't need additional ornamentation. As the wind and rain gushed in, I was thankful that my simple earthenware jugs of lilies stood their part as centrepeices and only a few wine glasses hit the deck. Consider weather when thinking paper lanterns, garlands, and finicky flower arrangements.
The storm left as fast as it came, thank the wedding gods, but boy did it leave us a story... It also left us a swamp in which the tent was an island, to the horror of pedicures, cream brogues (my groom), and satin pumps—at some point, people had to leave the island... How I wished I had brought a pair of rubber flipflops! This and other outdoor wedding companions such as a shawl and bug spray, is something you may want to suggest in an invitation follow-up (like an email).
THIS is why people left the island. Storm or no storm, a bathroom for an outdoor wedding is something many forget to consider. Our inn, for example, shuddered at the thought of 85 guests hitting their tiny septic tank, so I was left with no choice but to succumb to the port-o-potty. I was shocked and appalled, I balked, but in the end was reassured that wedding potties have come a long way. When I finally saw them, I was pleasantly surprised. I would like to reassure you that, should you find yourself in the same situation, wedding potties have indeed come a long way.
In the end (not the best note to end on but quite apropos), when all was said and done, our dresses filthy, our shoes ruined, our friends tipsy (I mean trashed) and I MARRIED, every moment was galvanized into lifelong memories that I wouldn't trade for any others. I think my wedding was perfect, but only now that I look back on it wearing very thick rose-coloured glasses.
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What They Wore:
Bride: Vintage 1930s dress bought
at Sweet Trash in Elora (Dress $1,200;
shoes $25, Aldo; earrings, $35, Elora Gorge Artisan Gallery)
Groom: White linen jacket Holt Renfrew brand, linen dress pants, and white shirt, Armani (Holt Renfrew) (Pants+shirt+jacket, approx $2,000, cream brogues N.D.C Made by Hand, $350)
Written by Elana Safronsky, Lifestyle Editor
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