1. Have a back up plan for poor weather. Many outdoor venues have options for holding the ceremony indoors in case nature does not cooperate. However, if yours does not have this, then consider renting a tent or having an alternative location for your site. I have a friend who told me she wished she had known me when she was planning her wedding. She had an outdoor ceremony arranged with no back-up plan in mind. It poured down rain all day on her wedding day. At the last minute, they had to move everything to a church and although it worked out(and they are still married!), she would have preferred to plan for rain instead of frantically relocating at the last minute.
2. If it is summertime, plan an early morning wedding or later evening ceremony. My friends, Jim and Darlynne Beard, own an outdoor venue, The Greenbranch, and they will not allow their clients to have their ceremonies before 7:00 pm because of their past experience with the heat and sun. One of my brides asked me to coordinate for weekend of services only. The date and time had already been set before they hired me, so I had no input for the time. It was a July wedding which began at 4:00 in the afternoon in Texas. If you've never been to Texas in July, then let me tell you. It was in the upper 90's that day. Gratefully, the venue in which this ceremony was held, 7-F Lodge, has an indoor area, so was I able to allow guests to stay in the air conditioning until right before the ceremony began. Also, the ceremony was short (another aspect to consider if you chose to get married outside) so the guests were not too uncomfortable for a long period of time. However, if would have much more comfortable for everyone had the ceremony been held several hours later when it was not so hot.
On the flip side, if you are having a fall or winter wedding, rent some heaters to keep guests comfortable.
3. If you get married in the summer, consider what heat does to your cake, flowers, hair, make-up and other aspects of your special day. I would highly recommend that you hire professionals to take care of these areas of your ceremony, because they are trained to keep everything looking fresh in the heat. See this previous post I wrote about what the heat can do to a store bought cake.
4. Have a plan for keeping away insects. Some brides and grooms place insect repellent at each table for guests to spray and keep the mosquitoes away. You can also utilize citronella candles for a more romantic atmosphere as well as the Tiki torches for a more tropical feel. No matter what you choose, it is something that is necessary so that your guests greatest memory of your wedding WON'T be getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.
5. If there is no indoor or enclosed area (such as a pavilion or covered patio) at your venue, rent a tent for your cake and food. The wind can blow all sorts of critters and dirt and ruin your meal and cake. Having this extra protection can guarantee that your food does not get contaminated by the natural elements.
6. You will most likely need a sound system so you can mic your officiant. It's more difficult to hear him/her in an outside location.
7. Consider your decorations for your event. There are so many beautiful aspects of being outside that too many decorations can take away from the natural beauty of a location. Ask your florist to show you pictures of decor they have used at your particular venue before making decisions on enhancements you will use for your wedding.
8. Keep your guests hydrated. Whether the conditions are hot or cold, have plenty of liquids to keep your guests comfortable. If it is sweltering, then keep iced water and tea on hand. Alcohol dehydrates, so make sure you have plenty of other liquids to balance out this effect. If it is chilly, then serve hot chocolate and coffee to keep your guests toasty. Water is also a great asset in the wintertime. You want your wedding to be everything you dreamed it would be, but you also need to strongly consider your guests comfort level in all aspects of your ceremony.
9. Have a website for guests to view in order for them to know if the wedding has been moved if the weather is not cooperating. Websites are the newest way brides and grooms utilize technology to keep their guests informed of wedding plans and for RSVP's. Beware, though, older generations don't always embrace this type of communication and may or may not remember to RSVP!
10. Hire a wedding coordinator. He/she can help you think through aspects of hosting an outdoor wedding that you may not consider. He/she can also lead you to the very best venues in your area for having an outdoor ceremony. Plus, on your big day, you can relax, get your nails, hair and make-up done while he/she takes care of all the details for you!