When you want someone to care
                          as much as you do.....
 Rev. Judith L. Guasch, M.Div.
                          Wedding Officiant

Serving S. Central PA, MD DC
                           (717) 222-9173 
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DOs & DONTs Outdoor Wedd

       If you are having an outdoor wedding ceremony, there are some things to consider when you are still in the planning stages in order to make your ceremony all you want it to be, while avoiding pitfalls which could make it less then a desirable memory.


      DO be sure to get all the necessary permits if your ceremony will be in a public park of any sort.  No one wants to start out their marriage with a hefty fine for Public Assembly Without a Permit.


      DO have an inclement weather plan.  You may be able to control a lot of things, but the weather is not one of them.  If your ceremony is at the same venue as the reception and they can accommodate you, be sure you know how the space will be set if you do have to move inside.  Know WHO ~ you or someone at the venue ~ will make the final decision to move inside, and when that decision must be made.  Keep both in mind when deciding upon decorations.  If working with a Professional Coordinator, they can help with a lot of this as well.

      DO find a creative way to decorate the aisle.  Line the sides of the aisle with a thick row of flower petals.  Line the aisle chairs with a wide satin ribbon or tulle along with some flowers.  Guests can enter the rows from the other side.  Hang kissing balls or flower baskets along the aisle.  If you are in grass, you can use shepherd’s hooks for this.  If you are having a military wedding, or are near a national holiday, why not line the aisle with small flags stuck in the ground?

     This couple lined their aisle with silk flower petals prior to their guests arriving, and had two large floral arrangements on the gazebo, below.

      DO decorate!  You won’t have to do as much  decorating as you would in other settings, but do pay attention.  Think about your decorations as a bridge of sorts between the formality of the ceremony and the natural beauty of your setting.  What flowers or trees will be blooming, and what color are they?  Can you incorporate the natural tones of your surrounding into the decorations you select?


     DON’T use an aisle runner. 

The slightest breeze will blow them around.  If you are in a grassy area, they aisle runner sinks and creates a tripping hazard.  You don’t want to take your vows in an ambulance on the way to get your leg cast.


     DO provide comfort items for your guests.  Remember, they will be out in the elements longer than you will.  Provide a comfort station with water, lemonade or tea.   Provide paper parasols for shade, or paper fans.   Or why not double your investment and print your ceremony program directly on a lightweight card stock fan?


     DO wear sunscreen!  Enough said.


     DO make sure all the guys in the wedding party have a folded handkerchief in their pocket if it is a hot day.  They will be able to politely take it out and dab.  This will keep them looking fresh, not like they just ran off the football field.


     DO select the proper attire for the wedding party.  Think about lighter colors and fabrics.  Also, select styles that are cooler, and perhaps a bit more casual.  Skip the black tuxedos and heavy taffeta dresses.


     DO think about insects!  Talk to your florist about what types of insects your flower selections will attract.  One ceremony I did had beautiful pink roses in large arrangements on the gazebo behind me.  However, they were put up early in the morning for a late afternoon wedding.  By the time the wedding began, you could barely tell the color of the roses.  They had attracted Japanese Beetles!  They were coated on the flowers, and swarming in our faces and the bride’s veil the entire ceremony!


     DON’T plan on using candles in any way ~ decorative or ceremonial.  The slightest breeze can blow them out.  Or worse yet, it can blow a spark onto something flammable and start a fire.


     DO talk to your Officiant, venue coordinator and perhaps even DJ about sound.  How many guests do you have?  How far away from your Officiant will they be?  What sort of background sounds are nearby?  While ocean waves splashing in the background may be beautiful in still photos, they are definitely NOT good for sound.  If you are too close to the surf, your guests may not hear your Officiant unless you make arrangements for amplification.  Ask your venue coordinator if there are train tracks on the other side of those trees and how often they come through.  Is there an airport nearby?  How busy is it?  While most venues are beautiful, know what obstacles you are up against and try to avoid as many as possible. 


     DO be sure to stand where the wedding party will be standing when you visit the venue.  Are there ruts or uneven ground?  Is the shortest bridesmaid standing in a low lying area of the grass, making her look even shorter?  Are the cobblestones so uneven that you will have to stand with one foot on tiptoe and one leg bent just to look normal?  Where is the sun at the hour of your ceremony?  If you visited your venue in the mid-morning, and thought how beautiful, and it’s all in shade, you will be in for a big surprise when you see your venue at 5 p.m. and it is in the beating sun.  Is there a way to move the ceremony location just slightly to avoid these things?


     DO think about your older guests and guests with handicaps.  If you ceremony is down the hill and across the field, how will your older guests handle getting there?  Does the venue have a small golf cart or other means of transporting guests who need assistance? 


     DO think about the time of day, and your attire.  If your ceremony is early in the day, is there the possibility that dew will still be on the ground?  If so, perhaps that long train isn’t best, and maybe something shorter would be better so as to not wick up all the moisture.


     DO think about wind if you are having a chuppah.  Be sure your structure is stable enough that it won’t come falling down on anyone mid-ceremony.


     DO think about the restrooms!  If the nearest restrooms are a half mile away in the state park you are in, is there a closer area to hold the ceremony?  If you are getting married at a private home, have you rented port-a-potties so people don’t have to enter the residence?  Many rental companies now have large spacious rental units, specifically for more formal events.  They even include hand washing stations, and are in white rather than the traditional bright blue or green.


     DON’T get upset about things outside your control.  If a loud plane or train goes past and your Officiant has to momentarily pause, let that be OK.  If the wind kicks up and takes the veil right off your head, so be it.


     Some of this comes from my experience as an Officiant over the years, but it also comes from my experience as a bride.  When I married the love of my life, we had a beautiful outdoor ceremony as well.  So enjoy your day, while making some wise decisions for the benefit of everyone.