Our top tips for planning your outdoor wedding
First things first
When you start visiting fields always consider the following; is there good access, for cars and larger set up vehicles; is there a nice flat area for your tipis; is there a parking area away from your tipis (cars don’t look good in photos) ask how the land will be prepared (does it need rolling, will it be mowed?); how many events will they host in one year? Some outdoor venues charge commissions to your suppliers, so worth finding this out upfront. Don’t forget to ask about rules of the venue, including amplified music curfews and finish time and whether things like fireworks, fire pits and animals are allowed. Fiesta Fields offer a beautiful collection of fields in Surrey and W Sussex.
Invest in wedding insurance
Consider taking out wedding insurance. (John Lewis offer a good policy). This is a bit of a no brainer, as in most cases the cost of the insurance will equate to the damage waiver on your tipi, plus you will have a host of other aspects insured as well. Just check in advance that your tipi supplier will remove the fee on receipt of your policy information. At Canvas & Light we don’t add damage waivers to our quotes and just ask that you supply us with proof of your insurance cover.
One of the big benefits of an outdoor wedding is no corkage or inflated drinks prices. You have two options with licensing laws. Either hire a mobile bar or buy your own and supply free drinks. For the latter there are a few things to consider, such as disposables or glass hire? (some venues will have a preference). Will you keep drinks in hired fridges, troughs of ice or something more creative like an old claw foot bath? It might be wise to consider hiring a couple of hospitality staff to serve, rotate drinks in the chillers and collect up empties. Always try and buy your alcohol on sale or return (booze cruise as an exception). It can be hard to gauge how much you will need and always best to overbuy, rather than under.
The morning after the night before
Don’t underestimate the clear up the next day. Collecting empties and a trip to the bottle bank is a bump down to earth after your magical day. If you can, nominate very good friends and family and try and give it a miss. Also make sure you and your caterer/bar are clear on what they are responsible for clearing and if they’re taking their rubbish with them. If you go for glass hire, check how they want them returned, or you could find yourself rinsing 500 odd glasses as well.
Rain or shine
The good old British weather is a fickle thing and can play havoc with your stress levels in the run up to your day. Try not to watch the weather forecast too far in advance. It likely won’t be accurate and is an unnecessary emotional rollercoaster. Just make sure you have a wet and dry weather plan eg ideal plan is welcome drinks outside, back up plan is or on your dance floor. Consider a small separate undercover area for an outdoor ceremony, even if you reserve it but don’t put it up in the end. You never know you could end up with a scorcher and need it for shade.
If you are unlucky and do have rain, embrace it. Have some funky umbrellas and wellies in back up (you can always return them if you don’t need them) and have a look online at some of the fab quirky wet weather photography and discuss with your photographer.
If you and guests are glamping/camping think about a little overnight pack to leave in their tents. A bottle of water, alka seltzer and maybe a little breakfast snack. Little torches would make great favours. It’s a good idea to hire in a plastic portable loo, so you can turn your generator off when you call it a night. (While on the subject of loos a little basket of essentials always goes down well; sun tan lotion, antihistamines, plasters, mints, after sun, tampons and make-up remover.)
You could continue the celebration the following morning with a catered breakfast, coffee truck or provide a BBQ, some bacon and rolls and your guests can prepare their own bacon butties. And while everyone is eating, they could always help tidy a little….
What’s the plan?
Draw a plan of how you would like to set up your space, both in your party tent and the outdoor space as whole. Check with all suppliers on their electricity requirements and feed these into your generator supplier to ensure they supply the right size generator. They will also need your site plan, to work out where they should lay distribution leads and sockets. Think about your optimum layout in your tipi. It’s a nice idea to provide a chill out area away from the dance floor and hay bales, deck chairs or picnic blankets outside. To maximise your space a few tables near the dance floor can easily be packed away to give you more room, especially if you have additional evening guests arriving.
We have tried and trusted generator suppliers so can deal with all this for you if you prefer.
See the light
Think in advance about your lighting. With your tipi who have the option of fairy lights, uplighters and festoons, with dimmable options for when the party gets going. You can add in a mix of bamboo torches, candles, lanterns and firepits. Are there any trees or natural features you can light? Your tipis and any outdoor bar will light your main event area, but make sure you light the way to your venue exit or the camping area. Our favourite cost effective solutions are kilner jars filled with small strings of battery powered fairy lights or battery powered candles in laser cut paper bags (remember to put sand in them to weight them down).
In terms of natural lighting, your photographer will be keen to take advantage of any stunning natural lighting that may happen throughout the day, so it’s best to allow a few shorter slots for photos, rather than doing them all in one go and be as flexible as you can. Bear in mind that when the sun is high in the sky, it’s at it’s harshest. The most beautiful photography I think always comes at magic hour, softer diffused lighting, beautiful skies and a more relaxed couple. Minus ten years without opening photoshop!
On the day
No matter how organised you are there will always be jobs to be done on the day; meeting suppliers as they arrive and letting them know where to set up; turning on the generator; meeting guests and letting them know where to park and set up camp; lighting candles, torches and the fire pit and generally keeping the day on track. So either arm someone or a few people with specific tasks or consider hiring an on the day coordinator to take care of all this, leaving you and your friends and family to just enjoy the moment. As experienced wedding planners, on the day coordination is something we can help you with.
Better safe than sorry
If your location is in a remote area or on public land you should consider security services to keep an eye on things. Overnight ‘babysitting’ the night before your wedding is a small price in the scheme of things to ensure all will be as you expect it to be on the big day. For all the effort that has gone into your wedding, we don’t think it’s worth saving the couple of hundred pounds to look after it. If you’re on a really tight budget you could ask a couple of good friends to camp overnight in the field for you.
This may all sound like a lot to think of. There is no denying that an outdoor wedding will take a bit more effort, but you will be rewarded with a unique day that is totally your style.