If you’re planning an outdoor wedding then you’re probably my kind of person! There’s just something that I love about wedding ceremonies surrounded by nature. I personally had two outdoor weddings (I didn’t get married twice, my partner and I just decided to have 3 different weddings on 3 different continents because we wanted to go to our guests instead of them coming to us).
And, I have to pop in a quick disclaimer here – outdoor weddings are not necessarily always easier! They’re just better in my opinion. But, there are ways to make them easier and that’s why I’ve put this blog together for you.
Planning an outdoor wedding in the UK requires a few considerations. There are different outdoor wedding locations to choose from along with wedding decor to arrange and some essentials that you need to make sure you don’t leave behind! This blog includes a checklist for planning a small wedding outside along with some tips to plan an outdoor wedding on a budget. Let’s get to it, shall we?
You might even want to consider eloping, take a look at my ultimate guide to eloping in London over here.
How do I plan a small wedding outside?
Everything you need to know about planning an intimate outdoor wedding.
Outdoor weddings are great for so many reasons! Some of the most romantic ‘I do’s’ I’ve ever captured have been under a big oak tree. The advantages of getting married at a regular wedding venue usually mean you will have most of the necessities sorted. Outdoor weddings require a little more work on your side. To make sure you have all aspects covered, here are some recommendations of where to start.
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Choose your outdoor wedding location
First up is deciding which of nature’s naturally beautiful backdrop you would like to use. Some locations require more effort than others. If you want to keep your wedding super simple and casual then a backyard wedding might be perfect for you. If you are going for a really romantic atmosphere and the beach has sentimentality to you as a couple then go for it.
Here are some ideas:
- Beach Wedding
- Backyard Wedding
- Park Weddings
- Garden Weddings
- Forest Weddings
- Vineyard Weddings
- Hotels & Inns with Outdoor Facilities
Plan your outdoor wedding decor
An outdoor wedding has the advantage of already providing a beautiful natural setting. This should make setting up your decor a whole lot easier. Use the outdoor landscape to your advantage by enhancing what’s around you with simple decor additions. It’s advisable to spend some time at the venue beforehand to get an idea of what you will need and how you would like to place things. Be sure to visit the space closer to the wedding as well to ensure it is looking wedding-ready.
Here are some simple outdoor wedding decor ideas.
- String lighting across one tree to the next
- Wrap trees in fairy lights or strings of pictures
- Drape fabric in between tree branches
- Hire or DIY an archway at the entrance
- Hang paper lanterns from the marquee ceiling
- Put flowers in vases and place them on tree stumps
- Create a photo backdrop using hanging fabric, flowers and lights
- Hang lanterns or a big chandelier on a nearby tree
- Mason jars filled with dainty fairy lights or tea light candles
Choose your outdoor wedding vendors or DIY
Having an outdoor wedding means you really have to consider everything from furniture to catering and cutlery. Have a discussion to decide what aspects of the wedding you and your partner will do yourselves and which you will outsource. (Quick note here to say that my husband and I DIY’ed most of our wedding and all I can say is don’t underestimate just how much time DIY can take! If you have the time, great. But, if not outsourcing may be a tad more expensive but a heck load less stressful.)
- Clean up service
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Tips for getting married outside in the UK
I’m all for outdoor weddings! I honestly love the atmosphere of fresh air, space, and nature surrounding the ceremony while two people say their vows. I think the best thing you can do when planning an outdoor wedding is to make sure you are prepared! Have everything organised beforehand and be sure of who is responsible for what so that when your wedding day comes around you can enjoy it instead of scrambling around to delegate tasks to people at the last minute while you’re trying to drink champagne and get ready.
Ask for assistance
When friends and family ask ‘What can I do to help?’ or “Is there anything I can do?’, don’t be polite. Take the generous gesture they are offering (unless they’re totally unreliable) and ask them to take care of something for you. Whether that’s ensuring they’ll pick up the glasses and drinks from your house the night before and bring it on time for set up or they’ll help move the chairs from the ceremony area to the reception area while you take your photos. Even if it’s a small task that you offload, many hands make the light work and you’ll be grateful you have help on the day.
Have a checklist
Get a wedding diary or notebook and write it all down. Try and keep everything clear so you know exactly what has been finalised, who needs to be followed up with and who is reliable for what. Especially if people are helping you, make sure you write down who has agreed to what so you can confirm it closer to the time and ensure your day goes along without a hinge.
Let nature be your blank canvas
Wedding decor in nature is a breeze (excuse the pun). Your natural landscape is already beautiful so keep it simple and find some affordable ways to dress up the area without stealing the limelight from all the natural beauty that is already there.
Power it up
Electricity is essential. If you’ve organised a backyard wedding, make sure you have long enough extension cables and if you’re in the middle of the woods, make sure you’ve organised a power station. You’re going to need to have power for the lights and for the DJ to bring some power music.
We can’t all turn wine to water
Generally, outdoor weddings happen during warmer seasons so make sure there’s enough water. Even if you place a water bottle on each seat or have large water stations with all the goodies to invite people over like lemon, mint and perhaps some berries. People get tired when they are dehydrated so it’s really important to make sure there’s plenty of water to stay refreshed.
Take care of the pesky guests
Keep the pests at bay. No one wants to be eaten alive by a mosquito while they’re trying to listen to you confess your undying love for each other. Whether you anticipate ants, flies, or mosquitos – make sure you have enough citronella candles and pest antidotes to keep them away.
Weather you like it or not
Be real with yourself, rain is a possibility. If you’re going to have an outdoor wedding, accept the potential that it might be a rainy day and don’t stress about it until the day happens. Checking the weather every morning for 3 months is not going to change anything. Mother nature will make her mind up on the day so be prepared. Have a plan B and back up tents. And, make sure your plan B is good enough that you will still have a stunning day regardless of the weather.
Don’t be too fiddly with food
You’re going to want to keep the menu pretty simple when it comes to outdoor weddings. The beauty of being outside is that a barbecue or something fresh and simple is ideal. If you’re looking for something elaborate, leave it to the caterers. But, an outdoor wedding definitely gives you the freedom to be creative and even serve snacks in picnic baskets or have a stir fry station for mains.
How do I plan an outdoor wedding on a budget?
Maybe you’ve chosen an outdoor wedding because you want to skimp on the venue fees and catering costs. If that’s the case, an outdoor wedding definitely has the potential to be a really affordable occasion. You just have to plan it right so here are some tips to plan an outdoor wedding on a budget:
- Keep your guest list slim. Less is definitely more when it comes to wedding guestlists in my opinion. You don’t have to invite the plus ones you’ve never met or the aunty you haven’t seen in fifteen years. Keep it small and don’t take other people’s offence personally. They’re not paying for the wedding at the end of the day.
- Ask for assistance as a wedding gift. If you have talented friends who are musically or artistically inclined. Ask them to help with the entertainment and wedding invitations instead of buying you a gift.
- Keep the catering super straightforward. You’ll be surprised at how much money can be spent on food so if a chilled barbecue feels right for you and your partner then do it. Otherwise, hire a family-owned restaurant that won’t rip you off and would be grateful for the opportunity.
- Minimal decor is in. Take advantage of this! It’s the style to have simple wedding decor and flower arrangements. Keep it super. simple and you will probably find that the modest style is actually really appealing. Sometimes we just try and do too much when it’s not necessary.
- Does everyone really need gifts? Do you even need bridesmaids and groomsmen? Don’t be afraid to not abide traditions and do things your way. If you’re feeling pressured to get gifts and dresses that are going to cost you, just rather leave it all out.
- Do digital invitations. You can create your own wedding invitations for free on multiple websites and just send them. by email. You’re saving the trees too, double win.
- Borrow as much as you can. There’s a lot to hire when you have an outdoor wedding but if you can borrow furniture, stereo equipment, and decor from your friends then do that.
- Ask for reduced rates in exchange for brand awareness. Offer to display each supplier’s details and allow them to advertise their services at your wedding in exchange for a discount.
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Outdoor Wedding Necessities
What do I need for an outdoor wedding?
Don’t forget to rent bathrooms, arrange tents depending on weather, and power is a must. Here is a checklist for you:
- Tablecloth weights
- Marquee Tents
- Wedding Umbrellas
- Rain Boots
- Bonfires or fleece blankets in winter
- Travel Pack Sun Screen
- Rented bathrooms if there aren’t any facilities
- Hand fans and bottled water in summer
- Pamper area
- Microphone PA system
- Lanterns and fairy lights
- Wedding games
- Food covers
If you are planning a small wedding, I have put together a guide to help with that – click here!
Outdoor Garden Wedding Venues in the UK
Here are the best venues for an outdoor wedding in London. If you’re planning an alfresco wedding that allows you to enjoy the fresh air and some stunning outdoor scenery, then take a look at that list. It consists of my top ten wedding venues with gardens in London that are just perfect for a summer or spring wedding!
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What do you do if it rains on your outdoor wedding?
As I said, rain is possible! So, Plan B needs to be as satisfactory as Plan A. Whatever you decide, make sure you are prepared for the weather! This will take so much unnecessary stress off your shoulders. Plus, we all know that rain on a wedding day is good luck so either way, you should be happy!
- Venues generally have backups. If you’ve decided to organise an outdoor wedding with a venue, just make sure you have covered Plan B with them. They should be able to offer an alternate option if mother nature gets up to any mischief.
- Accept it. Do that right now and if you can’t then maybe an outdoor wedding is not for you. Rain can make things fun if you have the right attitude. Embrace all the possibilities, have backup plans and you’ll be fine!
- Rent a marquee. Or at least invest in a deposit to hold it should you need it on the day. Trust me, the price is way worth the sleepless nights you’ll otherwise have.
- Decide on a second date. If you have the flexibility, just propose two dates from the get-go. That way you can decide closer to the time and have your event when promising weather evident.
Planning a covid-19 wedding in the UK brings about some additional rules and regulations. Make sure you are up to date with the latest law guidelines. You can access the UK’s rules and regulations for planning a wedding during the coronavirus over here.
If an outdoor wedding doesn’t seem like it’s for you and you’re thinking of rather booking a wedding venue then take a look at 75 wedding venues in London that I love over here.