Outdoor Ceremony or Not?

Posted by rnewton on Jun 17, 2011

Daphne & MIchelle Photography

Are you thinking of holding your wedding ceremony outdoors?  Do you have what it takes?  Here’s a test:

You have planned an outdoor ceremony but it’s raining that day.  What do you do?

  • (a) You sit down and sob uncontrollably.
  • (b) You punch your fist against the wall which results in so much swelling that your ring won’t fit.
  • (c) You say to yourself “we took a risk and we lost, that’s the way it is and we won’t let this get in the way of our enjoyment.”

If you answered (a) or (b) you clearly are not cut out for an outdoor ceremony.  If, on the other hand, you answered (c), I don’t really believe you.

The truth is, I love outdoor ceremonies.  They can be gorgeous.  But you really need to do some serious soul searching and fact finding before you go down that road.

The biggest problem is the huge gap between expectations and the rainy reality.  You won’t be simply transitioning from the sun plan to the rain plan.  In your mind, you will be going from Nirvana to a a tenement.  From open meadows to a bunker.  From distant horizons to grey walls.  From the sun’s radiance at dusk (referred to as the “Golden Hour” by photographers) to fluorescent institutional lighting.  That’s a pretty big drop.  Crushing, devastating.  Can you really take it?

If you are still up for it, here are some guidelines:

When you are searching for venues, be realistic about the rain plans. Ask yourself if it really satisfies your expectations.  Is the rain plan solid (“winging it” is not a plan)?  Is the space, if not gorgeous, at least going to make you happy?  Does it come even close to some of the other “non-outdoors” venues you have considered?  Is the size right?

What about timing? Is the venue offering you a ballroom that will be used by someone else later that evening, and if so is their sufficient time for setup and for the privacy of your guests?

Consider the setup as well. Does the ceremony decor you have chosen work both outside and inside?

Ask yourself about the guest experience. What if it’s a bit chilly, how comfortable will your guests be while they are waiting for the ceremony to start.
Lastly, even if the skies don’t cooperate for the ceremony, venture outside with your photographer.  Some of the most romantic pictures I have ever seen have been shot in the rain, and that’s a pretty good consolation prize.

PS: In this post I am talking about ceremonies, not entire receptions…. that’s a whole different story.