details to look at when planning an outdoor wedding
you hire a professional wedding planner, she
will probably go over most of these issues with
you. If not, this info should help you avoid stress
note ... I DO like the idea of hiring a
professional wedding planner. Often her entire fee
is paid for when she helps you avoid wasteful
spending in other areas.
Have a backup plan in case of rain! I have seen
unexpected rain occur several times in my career
during May, June & July when rain should have
been almost impossible. It happens!
WEATHER MELTS WEDDING CAKES (our own wedding cake
started melting and nearly fell over.) Make sure
the cake table is not in direct sunlight. (Also
when locating your wedding cake's table, look at
the background because photographs will record any
ugly things like exit signs, coat racks and trash
DRINKS FOR GUESTS: Hot weather makes guests
miserable while waiting for the ceremony to begin,
and while waiting for family portraits to be
completed after the wedding. Have lots of ice cold
drinks available for guests during those times.
DRINKS DURING PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY: Heat will
affect the quality of wedding pictures (people's
expressions). The quality of those photos will be
strongly influenced by the reliability of the
person who is assigned to bring cold drinks to
people getting photographed after the ceremony in
the "formals" portraits.
get wilted in hot weather. Talk with your florist
about this. Perhaps, choose silk flowers if you
think your wedding day temperature will be hot
enought to melt steel.
my wife and I got married the church's air
conditioner wouldn't work (it was a hot day in
August.) In retrospect we were very glad my wife
had chosen to go with silk flowers instead of real
flowers which would have badly wilted that day. It
was one less thing to go wrong.
weather is less of a problem than hot weather (as
long as it doesn't rain), you can always dress
warmer or dance harder to generate heat.
in the summer, some sites get cold after sundown.
So consider renting some portable propane heaters.
sitting around talking instead of dancing,
especially older folks, might appreciate propane
heaters. Guests who are comfortable will stay
longer and have fonder memories of your event.
of course have a Plan B in case of rain.
& MUSIC FOR THE
anyone hear the minister during the ceremony?
Can anyone hear the vows?
How about music for the processional and
MICROPHONE FOR THE
Outdoor weddings need a microphone and public
guests beyond the second row won't hear the
minister or vows. Traffic noise, wind noise,
air conconditioner noise make it nearly impossible
for guests to hear.
Some guests come hundreds of miles to attend your
ceremony, then they can't hear a word that's being
a microphone and amplifier for the minister.
it should be a hand-held wireless mic. (See photo
above for example.) And request your minister
to hold it right in the bride's and groom's face
when they recite their vows.
are always very quiet because the bride and
groom are nervous and their voices don't
ministers like to use hands-free lapel mic's while
preaching. But that would not work to pick up the
vows. He needs to use a hand-held mic like Doug's
Shure SM58 wireless mic shown above.)
do you get a wireless microphone?
Most disc jockeys (if you hire one) can provide
this service. Some charge $150-200 over the regular
rate to do this and others will include this
service with their DJ package fee. This is the
Photographer Doug owns a professional Shure UHF
wireless microphone, plus amplifier and
loudspeaker. Having seen so many outdoor weddings
where nobody could hear anything, Doug purchased
this rather expensive equipment to have it
available. Ask Doug about availability if you don't
have a disc jockey who can provide this service.
(We don't bring sound equipment to the wedding
except by advance planning.)
Or you can rent a wireless microphone plus
powered loudspeaker from an audio visual rental
company (such as Photo & Sound Company in
Sacramento.) You will need a little practice
to set it up properly. You must have someone who
will operate it and monitor its volume during the
ceremony. Professional powered loudspeakers include
an auxiliary input -- that enables you to plug in a
CD or MP3 player as well as a
for the ceremony:
If you hire a disc jockey he can provide music for
the ceremony's processional and recessional (and
also provide a wireless microphone.) Before you
sign a contract confirm he will do this.
you DON'T have a disc jockey, you can use a CD or
MP3 player for the music. Although not ideal, I've
seen high end boom boxes work successfullyfor the
classic solution is to feed the CD or MP3 player's
output into a professional sound system. For
example, photographer Doug's wireless microphone
and amplifier system can accept an input from a CD
or MP3 player.
you hire a professional videographer he will
normally have a wireless microphone of his own
which transmits to his video camera. His wireless
mic will not work as a PA mic, they are separate
wireless mic's won't interfere with a sound
system's wireless mic because there are many
different channels available.
you have an AMATEUR videographer, his
on-camera mic will not pick up the minister or vows
unless he is very, very, very close to them. And
even then, background sounds may be louder than the
vows. The solution is for the amateur videographer
to borrow or buy a good wireless mic to use (and to
test it thoroughly before the ceremony.)
if you can afford it, a professional videographer
with a wireless mic is a better
I have an article I wrote about
professional wedding video. Click
SITE RELATED ISSUES
POWER PLUGS: City power is needed for public
address systems, DJ music amplifiers, coffee
makers, lights, catered food heaters, battery
rechargers for the video person, etc. If you are
going to have a public address system for the
cermeony, explore whether a socket is available
near the ceremony itself, and if so, is it turned
on. And if so, does it have a three-pronged outlet
to be compatible with newer electronics.
OF THE SUN: Try to find out what angle the sun
will be at during the ceremony. It's not good for
guests to be facing directly into bright sun if
it's possible to avoid that. The sun's angle
changes every few weeks. So you should visit your
wedding site about 10 days before the wedding in
case you want to make a last minute change in the
seating arrangements due to the sun's angle.
may need bug zappers especially in mosquito areas,
or at night when lights are on. Wedding guests who
are kept comfortable stay longer and have fonder
memories of your event.
FLOORS: If you rent a portable dance floor it
could be affected by sprinklers or drainage so look
into that. Also dance floors need to be installed
If your site has automatic sprinklers try to find
out what their schedule is.
For candles on tables use short candles in
hurricane type housings. Have a fire extinguisher
available just in case of wind knocking something
over... CANDLES DURING THE CERMONY: Sometimes
people use candles for an outdoor unity candle
lighting. I like the concept but the majority of
times I've seen it tried, the flames and wind
wouldn't cooperate with each other.
EXTINGUISHERS: Have a fire extinguisher always
nearby. At one outdoor reception I attended, a
beautiful ceramic Mexican chimera heater suddenly
shot flames up its chimney towards a tree. Nothing
caught on fire but it was a very close call.
Another chimera nearly caught a wooden deck on fire
due to heat going through on its bottom.
TALKIES: If the site is large or you want to
coordinate arrivals from one side of the site to
another, or parking and shuttle issues, you might
want to have 2 or 3 walkie talkies available for
coordination purposes. And fresh batteries.
Consumer grade walkie talkies are lucky to run 4
hours on fresh batteries. And the walkie talkies'
range is much shorter than what the package claims.
In the real world a "2 mile range" walkie talkie
will transmit only 1/4 mile due to houses &
trees in the way. And they will hardly transmit at
all from inside a car or truck.
FOR PORTRAITS: It is helpful if you can pick
out a location for family to be gathered for group
portraits. Portraits will go much faster if people
to be photographed can be gathered in one spot
after the cermeony. Try to avoid letting anyone
wander off "just for a minute" who will need to be
in the pictures. What happens is they'll get
chatting and you'll have to send a runner after
them. Every time you do that it delays you from
finishing the family pictures, and makes you later
and later at getting on with the party.
photographer may or may not be able to take group
pictures at the location you've picked out. It will
depend on what the lighting is like and this can
change from one minute to the next.
example a good photographer like Doug will avoid
using "speckled lighting" where sunlight
splotches shine randomly onto peoples' clothing in
an uneven way. Also a good photographer will use a
"fill flash" technique to back-light or side-light
people to avoid harsh shadows and squinting. See
fill flash link at the bottom of this page if you'd
like to see examples of it.
Above all else, plan your wedding day SCHEDULE with
the advice of your photographer, or with an
single biggest goof that brides make is to plan her
day using an over-optimistic schedule. Then the
real world happens: the hair appointment takes
too long, the ceremony starts late, the photography
takes longer than you thought, the limousine driver
is in a hurry, the chef says the food is getting
cold, and your stress level shoots up.
problems and their stress are 100%
--- just consult an experienced wedding
photographer like Doug or a professional planner to
help design your wedding day schedule. Listen to
their experience because in the real world,
Murphy's Law means things take longer than you
think. You can avoid problems by staying on
schedule (do NOT start your wedding more than 10
minutes later than the scheduled time), and plan an
appropriate amount of portrait photography time
into the schedule. .
your photographer, I want your wedding day to
be stress free and awesome!