Outdoor weddings are very popular, especially during summer, and come with all manner of seductions from beautiful views to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. But there are drawbacks too. So before you decide whether you’re in or out, here are the pros and cons of outdoor weddings.
Many couples love the thought of tying the knot somewhere with sentimental value—the place they met, for example, or the place they first holidayed together. With an outdoor wedding, you can choose a location that fits your needs exactly; somewhere family-friendly for example, and somewhere with as much or as little space as you want. (However, some places will be off the table, like special government-protected land.)
An outdoor wedding is often so much more versatile than an indoor wedding. You have a lot of free movement, and usually a blank canvas; you can choose a space that fits your chosen theme exactly, and often you can decorate it however you want, as vastly as you want. You want a bonfire on the beach or lanterns in the trees? It’s more likely you can have that if you’re not caged by a venue’s regulations—venues such as churches or historical buildings for example can be quite strict on how you’re allowed to decorate. (Though some outdoor locations follow similar regulations, such as National Parks where you have to be careful not to damage the wildlife/landscape).
One of the biggest draws of an outdoor wedding is the breathtaking locations. Not only does this offer stunning photo opportunities, but it means your location (whether that’s the grounds of a country manor or the shores of a crystal blue sea) will do most of the talking for you. You may not need to spend too much on decor to create your vision! Just recently we, Confetti.co.uk’s Marketing team, attended a wedding in Bakewell in the heart of the Peak District. The reception was held in a tipi in the Derbyshire Dales, and little could have prepared me for the gorgeous views. The atmosphere was awe-inspiring.
Unless you choose a high-demand outdoor location like Niagara Falls to get married, it may be that fewer people are after your dream location—especially if it’s an out-of-the way secret beach or meadow. By contrast, indoor venues might all be booked up to a year in advance. Especially during the cold winter months.
Indoor venues can potentially come knocking with a host of hidden fees for things you didn’t know you were buying, like cleanup costs or the cost of musicians’ instruments. If you have an outdoor wedding, you’ll probably know from the get-go exactly what you need to buy (like heating or refrigeration arrangements).
In the UK, you can’t sign the marriage documents outside, and so your marriage isn’t binding unless you make a separate trip to a Registrar Office to sign everything. In the UK, you can only get legally married in places that hold a license. See our article on where you can and can’t get married in the UK.
For an outdoor wedding you can easily find yourself spending more money. For example, you may need to rent the land you want to use, you’ll need some kind of shelter (shade when it’s sunny, a roof when it’s rainy) like a tent or tipi (these are a very popular option as they come in such a vast range of sizes!), and if it’s a very out-of-the-way location you’ll spend more on travel. Furthermore, unlike an indoor wedding you won’t have all the trimmings, like a dance floor or a bar, or even the entertainment (which is sometimes included in indoor wedding packages).
For an indoor wedding, all amenities are there for you: power for lighting, heating, entertainment, and catering, and bathrooms and other facilities. For an outdoor wedding you’ll have to arrange all of this separately—generators for electricity, lighting, and heating/cooling; outdoor toilets; and potentially food vans to feed your guests…. This can work to your advantage if it fits the theme of the wedding you want. For example, wood stoves and bonfires are great light/heat sources for an outdoor wedding, and draped lights and candles make stunning light decorations. On the other hand, hand fans, lots of ice, and sources of water like the sea or a river can help people cool down on a very warm day.
Indoor venues can be more private and controlled. They are sheltered from the outside and so there’s less chance of an interruption—for unless your outdoor location is really secluded, your walk down the aisle could be punctuated by the roar of a lorry on a nearby road or something. Indoor weddings tend to be a lot more comfortable too, especially for older or younger guests. Plus they’re far more well-equipped in case of emergencies, and there’s less of a chance that one of your drunk guests will get lost in a hedge.
If you’re outside, the animals probably won’t go all “Furry Vengeance” on your wedding but you can count on bugs flying around the food and drinks. If you’re inside, you won’t have to swat away the flies when it’s photo time or worry about wasps buzzing around your cake. Furthermore, some of your guests may suffer from allergies like hayfever; they’ll have one hell of a time sniffling and sneezing through your outdoor wedding if it comes upon them sudden and aggressive.
Here’s another point that fits both Pro and Con! Although you have weather control if, for example, you want to go abroad, it’s a whole different story if you want an outdoor wedding here in the UK. Very quickly a hot sunny day can change into a storm full of wild winds and rain. Wind could carry away your voice during your speech or blow your decorations down; it could give you a rather dishevelled appearance, potentially damaging the look you want for your photos. Rain (though it can offer lovely photo opportunities as shown in the images above) can turn your dream meadow into soft, muddy ground, and some companies won’t rent tents and tipis etc at certain times of the year because of the unpredictable weather.
The Best of Both Worlds
Because outdoor weddings can be so fraught with risk, and because they’re such big things to organise, many couples lean toward the best of both worlds. A lot of venues nowadays offer indoor and outdoor packages, which means you can hold the ceremony and reception in the same location. For example, you may want to hold your wedding ceremony indoors (as venues hold special marriage licenses) and the reception outside in a lakeside gazebo. Some venues even allow a temporary installation of a tipi, though this is something you will have to enquire about.
If you want an outdoor wedding you must be prepared for hard work. Make sure you have a back-up plan in case the worst should happen (get prepared for rain or shine!), and don’t be afraid of asking for help from close friends and family during the wedding planning.
Get married in the great outdoors at this fairytale castle, historic abbey or French-style chateau. With stunning architecture, beautiful grounds, breath-taking views and stylish decor, here are 5 spectacular UK summer…
Leanne manages Confetti's Instagram account (@confettiwedding) and is one of Confetti's article writers. She enjoys being a highly creative person with a life-long passion for art and creative writing; she has a determined dream of becoming a published author. She values giving help and advice to everyone she can, and loves talking to new people.