Updated: Jan 31, 2020
I have been a guest at many weddings and sat through many ceremonies. I have seen all types from back yard BBQ to high end professionally planned events. There are a few things I have witnessed and thought to myself "oh my, this is going to be long and uncomfortable", and "they should have been better planned for that"!
If you are planning an outdoor wedding these three simple considerations can make or break how a guest experiences your beautiful day. I like to describe them as WHO, WHAT, and WHERE.
1. WHO: The who is the uninvited and unwelcome pest that can wreak havoc on a guest, couple, or in general. Insects top the list. When considering the ceremony location no matter how beautiful the setting, people will be sitting in the grass, sand, woods or field. Often they are bare-armed and bare-legged, have no hat, wearing sandals or open shoes and are in their best outfits. Granted we can not stop all bugs from showing up, but the consideration is on how to reduce the chances of interception between them and your guests. If you are having a ceremony in a field or woods you may want to invest in having the seating area professionally sprayed. I know there are many companies that offer environmentally friendly services that may help keep ticks and flying insects away for the day. Ask your venue how wasps and bees are being addressed and do your homework on other types of pests that may be in the area to consider. Offer baskets of natural bug repellent, and after bite. In Maine, Lyme is a big issue. No one wants to worry about unknowingly bringing home a tick after the wedding. Consider all your options when planning a meadow, beach or outdoor wedding and how the ground under chairs and feet will be addressed to reduce unwanted contact. Doing your best to keep guests comfortable and safe will go far in how they remember your day.
2. WHAT: The what is "WHAT did you say"? When considering the location of your ceremony and the number of guests being seated, think about the guests that will be sitting in the rows four or more back from the action. Can everyone including guests hard of hearing make out what you are saying during your ceremony if they are seated away from you? If your wedding is near crashing surf, deep in the woods, or near a busy road then the sound is most likely going to be compromised somehow. Consider having a microphone to amplify voices. No one wants to sit during a ceremony to only hear occasional muffled laughter, a word here or there, or worst of all... nothing. They will tune out, get on their phones, and feel frustrated that they rushed to your ceremony, rather than just showing up for the reception. Ask the venue or your music provider to include a mic during the ceremony it will be worth it and your guests will appreciate it.
3. WHERE: The where is, where's the is actually ceremony is being conducted (especially if outside)? Where is the power source for music and sound? Where do people have to walk and how easy is it for them to get to their seating? Where does your bridal party enter from? Finally, where is the restroom and reception located in relation to the ceremony? When planning a location for your ceremony, envision older, young and handicapped guests moving over rocks, sand, roots and uneven footing. How far do youor your guests need to travel on foot to get to your ceremony location in the woods? How far do chairs and other items need to be carried to your spot, and how long is the extension cord from a power source if there even is one? If there is no power how will you provide for the music, and lighting if needed? What is the walking distance and footing to the restroom before and during the ceremony? Finally, the weather plays one of the biggest roles for considering your guests comfort. Where will guests be sitting to see you get married? Is your ceremony at 1 pm in an open unshaded field or on a beach? How will you help them not get overheated or chilled? Have you planned a water station and comfort station to also include umbrellas, throw blankets, sunscreen, paper fans, bug spray or maybe fancy iced moist Lavender-infused hand towels to dab off tears and sweat.
Considering your guest's comfort is so important as well as, that of your vendors working to create your day. Some guest may have traveled a great distance to be with you. Helping everyone enjoy your moment should be top on your list. It is the little things people will remember well after your wedding day has passed. Keep those memories fun, happy, and light by paying attention to these often overlooked details.
Written by Alise Snyder - Wedding Officiant and Certified Lifecycle Celebrant
Little Robin Ceremonies