The 3 Pitfalls of an Outdoor Wedding and How To Avoid Them

The 3 Pitfalls of an Outdoor Wedding and How To Avoid Them

The season for outdoor weddings is almost here! If you’ve already booked or are looking to utilize an outdoor venue for your wedding or reception, this is the article for you.

Now, it’s true that with an outdoor wedding or reception venue, there are many things you don’t have to worry about. For example, you don’t have to worry about the venue getting too stuffy when everyone is dancing or your guests feeling cramped in the space. However, there are three issues every outdoor venue faces that can quickly become a problem if you don’t prepare for them. Those “pitfalls,” if you will, are heat (or lack thereof), bugs, and ruined refreshments. In this article, I will share multiple ways you can protect your outdoor wedding and reception from these pitfalls with some simple, affordable options.

Problem #1: The Heat

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how uncomfortable it can be when you’re outside with your friends in weather that’s too hot or cold. In that kind of weather, no one wants to stick around. Your guest count will slowly dwindle to just your immediate family and wedding party if you don’t have a plan on how to handle the heat or lack thereof.

Now, the first suggestion I have is to consider what time of day will be most comfortable for your guests to be outdoors at your wedding. What do I mean by this? Well, in the early morning and late evening, the temperature tends to be cooler than in the middle of the day. If your wedding is in a cooler month, you may want to schedule your wedding ceremony closer to midday or early afternoon when the weather is warmer. On the other hand, a wedding held during the summer may be more comfortable in the morning or late afternoon. Choosing the right time for your wedding ceremony is the first step to ensuring a more comfortable event.

The next step to creating a pleasant atmosphere for your guests is to address how you will add heat or ease it. Below are some suggestions:

  • Consider renting a tent, fans, or misters.
  • Provide cold bottled water for your wedding guests. You can rent beverage coolers/bars or purchase tubs you can fill with ice later.
  • Consider having paper fan favors for your guests or providing other useful favors for warm or hot weather, like parasols, personalized beverages, beverage sleeves, or sunglasses.

If your wedding day looks like it will be colder than you had initially hoped, you can keep your guests warm by trying these ideas:

  • Rent heaters or have elevated firepits for your guests to warm up at.
  • Provide a coffee or hot chocolate bar for your wedding guests. You can rent or borrow a coffee cart and fill it with a variety of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate blends, plus cups and hot water dispensers.
  • Consider providing hand warmers or throw blankets as wedding favors for your guests. Other useful cold-weather favors are gloves, scarves, thermoses, drink cozies, or fuzzy socks.

Problem #2: Bugs

Anyone who has an outdoor get-together with food knows bugs are just par for the course. After all, we coexist with them in outdoor spaces. But even though bugs are a natural part of being outdoors, that doesn’t mean you want them hanging out with your food or annoying your guests. This is especially the case if you live in a state prone to red ants, hornets, ticks, or mosquitos. Today, I’ll address how to tackle two of the main party pests across the US—flies and mosquitos—but you can also apply these tips to other party pests.

First, ask your venue if they have a plan to keep bugs away from your party. Most outdoor venues spray regularly, but it is always good to know how soon before your event that will occur. The sweet spot is roughly four to five days before an event. But as long as your wedding happens within two to three weeks of the venue being sprayed, the spray will still be fairly effective. In addition, here are some other ways to protect your guests from these pests:

  • Utilize mosquito-repellent candles in your decor around the reception. You can buy them in a variety of scents or even make some of your own with some floating citrus and basil.
  • Spray your tablecloths with either lavender, lemon balm, or peppermint. You can also include these in your floral decor.
  • Avoid having soft cheeses, like brie or Limburger, out for too long. You should also avoid leaving sugary drinks like lemonade in open containers.

In the end, letting your guests know beforehand that your celebration will be outdoors will enable them to decide how to protect themselves against these pests.

Problem #3: Ruined Refreshments

I once photographed a reception where the cake was placed near some floor-to-ceiling windows. The AC was on, but since the cake was directly in the sun’s rays, the frosting and fondant started to melt before it was time to cut the cake. Luckily, I saw what was happening and alerted the catering staff and wedding planner. The two vendors acted quickly to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much they could do at that point but hold the cake up as the bride and groom cut out the first slice. I was glad the bride and groom could still have their moment cutting the cake. But imagine how horrific it would have been if the cake had actually fallen to the floor! Such an event could have quickly ended what was otherwise a beautiful event. To help prevent this or other disastrous events from befalling your refreshments, I’ve outlined some simple tips to protect your cake and other refreshments from being ruined:

  • First, talk to your cake and catering vendors. Make sure they are aware your event will be outdoors. This will help them provide you with a menu and cake options better suited to the elements.
  • Second, place your food, especially the cake, in the shade. If possible, keep your cake and other food well cooled before and during the reception.
  • If it looks like it’ll be windy on your wedding day, consider using a wind guard (or tent) to protect your food. Weighted food covers can help protect your lighter items from blowing away and keep bugs out. Some caterers can provide these if asked ahead of time. Similarly, having weights or heavy favors on the tables to hold down your guests’ napkins, itineraries, etc. will help too.

By keeping all these tips in mind, you can ensure your outdoor wedding or reception will be a beautiful, memorable, and, most importantly, enjoyable event. To recap, remember to have a plan to deal with the heat or cold, decide beforehand how you will deal with pests, and make a plan to protect your refreshments. When you take these tips into account, you can be sure your celebration will not fall into the pitfalls written about in this article.

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Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae Hess is a Dallas wedding photographer who’s been capturing weddings and events since 2018. She’s a naturally sunny person who’s always smiling and cracking jokes, which makes capturing natural couple portraits her superpower. Her favorite part of the wedding day is capturing the reaction of a couple’s family and friends when they see the couple for the first time. Website:, Instagram: @photography_of_sarahmae, Facebook: @PhotographyofSarahMae
March 8, 2023

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