I realize I can get a bit annoying when it comes to the topic of outdoor weddings. Some brides (and grooms!) do not want to consider alternatives and refuse to accept there are simply some things beyond their control. That is rather naive and a sure way to set themselves up for some crushing disappointment. As I've said before, any couple without a flexible attitude regarding the details of their wedding should just plan on having everything indoors right from the start.
I do think outdoor weddings are quite lovely and very romantic in the right setting. I have officiated oodles of successful beach, garden, and park weddings that went off without a hitch. I have also officiated too many that resulted in some unfortunate incidents and a few with somewhat dire consequences.
I have nothing inherently against outdoor weddings as such. I do have serious concerns about outdoor weddings with no back up plan or that persist in the original location when conditions are dangerous or even just decidedly uncomfortable. My contract requires outdoor ceremonies specify the inclement weather alternative.
Most couples obsessively checking the weather forecast focus on the possibility of rain. They forget that temperature is also a huge factor in determining whether the ceremony will be enjoyable or miserable. They rejoice when presented with zero cloud cover not realizing this wreaks havoc on photos and intensifies already painfully hot conditions. If the ceremony or reception site does not provide adequate shade and breeze, when the heat exceeds 80-85 degrees with moderate to high humidity or 85-90 with low humidity, you should proceed immediately to Plan B, no questions asked.
Left: Jeff Carr Photography
Right: Unknown photographer, gift from the couple.
Add alcohol to the mix and hot, sunny, humid weather conditions are a perfect recipe for disaster. I have seen members of the wedding party vomit after imbibing in high temps...during the ceremony. I have witnessed guests faint from the heat and little kids cry uncontrollably when hot sand scorches their toes. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those little keepsake fans you've distributed to your guests just don't cut it.
When planning an outdoor wedding during the summer months you absolutely must provide your wedding guests, wedding professionals, and the wedding party with the following:
On a personal front, do you really think sweat causing the ladies' makeup to run, everyone's eyes to burn, hair to frizz or stick to the head and neck like glue, and staining dresses, shirts, and suits results in fantastic wedding photos? That's before you consider the squinting in the direct sunlight. Now you have a photographic situation no amount of expertise with Photoshop can resolve.
I no longer officiate weddings during the summer months that are held outside in direct sunlight at any other time than sunrise or sunset. I refer those inquiries to my younger and sturdier colleagues. Yes, it is that bad!
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.