Wedding Trends: Outdoor Ceremonies
A Day in the Life of an Outdoor Ceremony
At least half of the brides out there have debated on having an outdoor ceremony. You immediately think nature, simplicity, beauty... But then is it really? What's the scoop on weather, temperature, high-heeled shoes on the grass... We've asked some of The Ring's experts to find out the truth about the 'outdoor ceremony'!
Who & why?
Outdoor weddings are unique and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. But there is so much more to it than that. A very popular trend, this type of ceremony is often chosen by the more casual bride, or by couples who have a special bond with a specific location such as the beach they met on, or in the backyard of the house they've made into their home.
There a few things to consider when selecting a location: time of year, possible weather scenarios and indoor backup facilities. But the possibilities are endless. Unitarian officiant told us, 'I’ve done outdoor wedding in the garden of a bed and breakfast, in a field, a community park, a friend's back yard, parent's backyard by the water, and at a golf course.... We've performed weddings in canyons, in a gazebo, at hotels, on a dinner cruise ship, on a sail boat, in a chalet on a mountain top, high on a sand dune by the beach, in a hot air balloon ... and soon, in the ruins of an old mill. Any spot that is significant to the wedding couple is acceptable - providing that guests can be accommodated comfortably.'
Pick a location that suits the style and feel that you want for your wedding. A casual beach wedding with your bare feet in the sand at sunset ... a beautiful and memorable setting, but not for you if you are looking for a more formal or traditional style. One pastor told us that one of his most successful outdoor weddings was on a tall ship - so be creative!One of The Ring's most sought after officiants told The Ring, "I’ve never had rain deter a couple … so it rains, big deal! With all the excitement and hard-work that they've gone through, they all want to go through with the ceremony outside and just get married!'
Does it really make a difference?
If you're the kind of girl who likes to go with the flow, then an outdoor ceremony is right up your alley. There is a unique feeling that comes from gathering together in a open-air site. A K-W Reverend told us how she feels the mood is impacted, 'There is a natural feeling of being outdoors - less formal. A sense of oneness with nature. An awesome cathedral under spacious skies. A sense of laissez faire since the couple has to be prepared for alternate arrangements if the weather does not cooperate. There is nothing quite as beautiful as the sound of a flute or violin music floating over an open space.' One pastor agreed saying, 'It’s spontaneous and delightfully close to God in his space.'
One pastor told us a great story about a group of unplanned outdoor ceremonies ... during the power loss across Ontario last August, he got a call from the city saying that all the weddings for the weekend were cancelled since the buildings had to be shut down. The pastor couldn't stand the thought of the couples having to cancel their long-planned nuptials, so he posted a sign on the door saying that all the weddings for the weekend were going to be held in the park and to meet him at the floral clock. 'We had five beautiful weddings in the park that weekend!' Those couples have a great story to tell ... !
Many wedding officiants will emphasizes the frame of mind that you and your fiancé should be ready for, 'Depending on climate and circumstances, you do what you have to do. Take your shoes off and hike up your robe, wade through the water if you have to!'
Who shouldn't plan an outdoor ceremony?
For all the spontaneous fun that can happen at an outdoor ceremony, carefully consider the decision. If you're the kind of girl who needs every hair, place setting and detail in place, this may not be the best idea for your wedding.
You need to be flexible on certain things. 'Sound is sometimes difficult to maintain. It is doubly important to have a sound system because there are no walls to hold in the sound. Wind is uncontrollable so we need to be flexible about the appearance of hair do's, the lighting a marriage candle (I explain that it's symbolic and not a symbol of impending disaster if the candle blows out!), and uninvited guests - from animals to other people who normally use the grounds - even an occasional stray golf ball.'
It's also important to consider your guests in the decision. They will have to adapt to the conditions as well. Think about grandparents and great-grandparents, as well as any handicapped guests. You must make sure that everyone will have access to the ceremony site, as well as a certain comfort level during the wedding.
The humour of it all!A great piece of advice for outdoor occasions - be prepared for anything! 'Trellises blow down, skirts blow up, my pages get stuck together, heels sink into the ground, sirens go by, birds sometimes "bless" the wedding with a bit of white!'
The best way to look at these things is as happy accidents. Keep focus on the meaning of the day, not the details. Each quirk, mix-up and oops will just add to the memorable part of the experience.
Keep in mind... It produces great Kodak moments like flower girls wandering off into the woods instead of down the aisle!
Tips from the experts
• Select your location, get it guaranteed, and determine what else you would need well in advance. Six months ahead is what I recommend. You’re at the mercy of the weather for certain things but you can plan for chairs, tables, tents, umbrellas.
• In a reclusive area, tell people to be there an hour before the ceremony will really start because people will get lost. One time at Lion’s Head, there was no one there for a half an hour past the ceremony start time because they were all driving around country roads trying to find the location!
• You may have to change a few things - like hurricane lamps rather than candles to accommodate for the wind.
• Be flexible and realistic.
• Have a back-up plan - either a tent or the option of holding the ceremony wherever you are holding the reception.
• Have a sound system.
• Keep decorations simple.
• Keep needed things close to the ceremony site! At a wedding, a friend of the bride who lived three hours north, was bringing the wedding dress on the day of the wedding. She got lost and was an hour late arriving. Guests were all seated and the bride was pacing in her veil and underwear!
• I pray for good weather for any outdoor service - part of my service! But sometimes the prayers of the farmers for rain simply outweigh a good wedding picture ... !
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