If you can, I’d REALLY like to be your friend! Let’s face it - weather in the Pacific Northwest is very quick to change and keeps you on your toes. We don’t ever quite know what we’re going to get. If you are someone whose entire wedding will be ruined by rain, wind, a low flying airplane, a train’s whistle, a flyby of honking geese, cold temperatures, or a myriad of other outdoor occurrences then an outdoor ceremony or reception isn’t a good choice for you. If you can roll with the punches and understand that no one can control the weather or completely control an outdoor environment (and consequently none of your vendors are to blame if it’s raining, too hot, a car horn honks, etc.) then considering an outdoor event or portion of your event can be a great option.
With an outdoor event there are additional considerations to keep in mind: lighting, restroom accessibility, shade from the sun, bugs, wind, trains, planes, etc. When you hold an event outside you are at the mercy of the environment. With a little extra planning and in most cases a bit more built into your budget, you can have a beautiful outdoor event, rain or shine.
Daylight ceremonies in outdoor locations have it easy as typically the ceremony is not very long and the location you’ve chosen is usually picturesque. You may want to think about providing shade for your guests (especially Grandma and others of her generation) and certainly do want to take into consideration how easy or difficult walking to the site might be for those with mobility issues. Also, are there restroom facilities nearby?
Other things to consider are that wet weather can bring bugs in some locations, and air or rail traffic can create unwelcome noise as well. Be flexible, understand that you have some but not total control of the environment and you will do just fine!
Once the ceremony ends, keeping the cocktail hour, dinner and dancing outside can be amazing but does pose a few challenges. Your guests would like to be able to see you and each other so lighting the space for them (and for the staff trying to take care of your guests) is crucial. If you plan on dancing you might need to rent an outdoor dance floor. Renting portable restrooms will also be important to keep your guests happy all night long. And of course, tenting should be considered. Tenting can provide much needed shade on hot days as well as protection from rain on wet days thus allowing you to keep your event outside. Often there isn’t an indoor space held when you plan everything outside so being comfortable knowing you’re outside no matter what is the key to a successful outside event.
At some locations you also have to pay for tables, chairs, dishware and other rentals or will have a surcharge to cover additional labor costs that occur with an outdoor function. Not only do you need to be emotionally comfortable with the challenges of an outdoor event but also financially able to absorb these additional costs.
Outdoor events are not for everyone. Really think about how you will handle weather snafus, how weather conditions can affect your guests, and what your budget can truly handle before deciding on an outdoor event. There is a belief that rain on your wedding day is lucky because water tightens knots thus the knot of matrimony is stronger for the rain. We have no control over the weather; we can only control our attitude about it.