Tips for Planning an Outdoor Wedding


April 21, 2021

Even though there was snow here this week, we know that we are finally nearing the end of winter and we’re starting to see beautiful signs of spring! This change in weather has us itching for wedding season and looking forward to all of the gorgeous backdrops that outdoor ceremonies have to offer! But while outdoor ceremonies create an amazing atmosphere and stunning images, there are also risks involved. Especially if you are a midwest bride, you know that the weather can be incredibly unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the elements. Here are some tips to consider as you’re planning your outdoor ceremony: 

outdoor wedding

Create a Backup Plan 

If you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony, I would highly recommend having a plan B. In case you end up having rain (or snow, because the midwest is just like that) it’s always a good idea to have a close location that is covered or indoors that you could move your ceremony to at a moment’s notice. A lot of venues that are wedding specific will have a space for both an outdoor and indoor ceremony. These are never a bad idea as they allow you to plan for both best case and worst case scenario (although it’s still your wedding day so it’s never truly a worst case scenario)! Another option would be to rent a large tent, or put one on hold, that you could throw up quickly in the event of poor weather. There are certainly options that will allow for you to switch your plans on short notice! We will always recommend having a plan A and a plan B when it comes to achieving an outdoor ceremony or reception. 

tented wedding reception

Offer Your Guests Something to Help With Weather 

If you’ve spent anytime in the midwest, I don’t have to tell you that the weather could go from 80 degrees to 50 degrees really quickly. Depending on what month you’re having your ceremony, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to plan something to hand out to your guests to make sure they are comfortable while attending your outdoor wedding. This may look like a box of blankets as you enter the ceremony space. Or it may look like putting the programs on sticks to use as fans, or providing separate fans that are in your wedding colors. Or if you weren’t able to establish a plan B for an indoor or covered venue space, you could have a lot of big umbrellas to offer to your friends and family. Not only will your guests feel cared for by this gesture, but chances are that it will also create really cool photos for you to look back on! 

rainy wedding portraits
Jennifer Weinman Photography | Iowa Wedding Photographer

Plan Your Timeline with Weather in Mind 

As you’re thinking about your timeline for the day, it’s important to keep in mind the amount of time that the bride and bridal party will be spending outside. If it’s hot and humid or cold and rainy you’re not going to want to spend too much time outside! If you think about you or your girls’ hair, makeup, or dresses, you don’t want them to get messed up in any way. Especially if you’re doing a first look or a lot of bridal party photos before the ceremony takes place, you don’t want your appearance to be dampened by the weather before all of your guests get to see you! Outside photos are some of the most fun, but make sure to talk to your photographer about taking breaks from the weather or planning your timeline around not wanting to spend too much time in whatever elements the weather has to throw at you that day! 

outdoor wedding ceremony

Plan Your Beauty Products Accordingly 

I once had a hairdresser tell me that if a bride is having an outdoor ceremony, they use a lot more hairspray and bobby pins to make sure that her hair doesn’t fall out or wilt while outside! Keep in mind that it’s not just rain that affects your hair and makeup, but it’s humidity, wind, a lot of sunlight, etc. Make sure that you’re talking to your hair and makeup stylists beforehand if you’ll be spending a lot of time outside! They can do their best to help with products to keep everything in place. As mentioned for hair, that most likely means extra bobby pins, hairspray, or having to have an updo so your curls don’t wilt. For makeup this means putting primer on at the beginning of the process and some sort of setting spray at the end to make sure that everything holds! It’s also not a bad idea to choose products that have spf in them so you can protect your face against the sun if it’s going to be a sunny day! You should also consider putting sunscreen on the other parts of your body that will be showing so you don’t end up looking really pink by the time of the ceremony! 



outdoor wedding portraits

Consider the Position of the Sun When Planning Ceremony Time 

This may sound like a silly detail, but it really is important! If you’re going to be getting married outside, I promise you won’t want the sun blaring directly into your eyes! If you’re feeling like you have to squint throughout the whole ceremony you won’t be able to take it all in and enjoy the moment in the same way. If you keep in mind the position of the sun and plan around that, that will allow for you to be able to enjoy the ceremony more, and it will positively impact your wedding photos! Ask your photographer what time is best for a sunlit ceremony that will enhance the photos, not take away from them. 

outdoor bridal party photos

Plan for Bugs 

As gross as this is to think about, if you’re getting married outside in the midwest between the months of May – September, you should probably factor in mosquitos. Especially if your reception is also outdoors, you’re going to want to have a repellant plan to keep bugs away from your guests and their plates. This could look like buckets of bug spray bottles spread out around the venue, or it could be citronella candles at all the tables. Whatever it is, your guests will be thankful for whatever help you give them to keep the bugs away! You will also want to make sure that you have a personal bug spray packed with you so you can keep the bugs away from you and your dress. Especially if your dress is layered, it’s easy for bugs to slip underneath and not so easy for them to get out. So any repellent you can keep with you and offer your guests will be very beneficial. 

We hope that you read all of this as an encouragement to do an outdoor ceremony or reception! While it does create a few more risks, it also can be worth it when it comes to the beautiful atmosphere that comes with outdoor weddings! The photos are amazing, nature gets to be on display as an honorary decoration, and I’m confident that you will look back on this day with such joyful memories! 

For more Wedding Wednesday tips and advice, click here to check out our blog!

tips for planning an outdoor wedding

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Hey there, and welcome to the JWP blog!  We are a photography team based in Iowa and we’re glad you’re here!  We hope you’ll enjoy viewing our most recent weddings, tips brides, and business and educational resources for photographers.  


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