Outdoor Woodland Wedding Ceremony|

The Pros and Cons of Outdoor Weddings

Outdoor weddings are very popular, especially during summer, and come with all manner of seductions. But there are drawbacks too. So before you decide whether you’re in or out, here are the pros and cons of outdoor weddings.

Outdoor Woodland Wedding Ceremony |
Browse our Woodland Wedding Theme


1) You Can Go (Almost) Anywhere

Parklands Essex by Ben Bull Photography |
Image courtesy of Ben Bull Photography

Many couples love the thought of tying the knot somewhere with sentimental value—maybe the place they met 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.)


2) Versatility

Church Cathedral Interior by Ben Bull Photography |
Image courtesy of Ben Bull Photography

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 that 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).

3) Glorious Views

Scotland | Lyme Park - The Peak District - Garry Lomas |
Top to bottom: Scotland by Holiday Cottages | Lyme Park by Garry Lomas Photography

One of the biggest draws of an outdoor wedding is the breathtaking locations. Not only do they offer stunning photo opportunities, but they will also do most of the talking for you—you may not need to spend too much on decor to create your vision! Just recently our 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 us for the gorgeous views. The atmosphere was awe-inspiring.

4) Weather Control

Summer Bride with Parasol |
Be inspired by our Wanderlust Wedding Theme

An outdoor wedding can afford you more control over the weather. For example, if you yearn for bright skies and the hot sun you can choose to go somewhere famously sunny.

5) Availability

Beeston Manor Winter Wedding Venue |
Image courtesy of Beeston Manor

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 for up to a year in advance. Especially during the cold winter months.

6) Fewer Hidden Fees

Sally Potterton Entertainment Nation |
Image courtesy of Entertainment Nation (Shown: Sally Potterton)

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).


1) Signing the Documents

Glass Pen with Ink Pot |
Featured above: Glass Dip Pen Writing Set

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.

2) Cost

Piggy Bank |
Featured above: Amore “Wedding Fund” Ceramic Piggy Bank

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).

3) Availability

Sunrise surprise proposal at the Eiffel Tower in Paris by Fran Boloni The Paris Photographer |
Image courtesy of Fran Boloni The Paris Photographer

That’s right! Availability is as much a con as it is a pro. As touched on in Pros Number 5, you may find that the outdoor location of your dreams is in high demand. Or a famous tourist destination!

4) Amenities and Power

The Five Arrows Hotel at Night |
Image courtesy of The Five Arrows Hotel

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.

5) Privacy, Comfort, and Safety

Classic Wedding |
Browse our Classic Wedding Theme

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.

6) Wildlife and Allergies

Forest and Meadows by The Woodland Trust |
Images courtesy of The Woodland Trust

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.

7) Weather

Rain Wedding Photography by Hoffer Photography |
Image courtesy of Hoffer Photography

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) 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.

Outdoor Country Wedding Reception |
Recreate this look with our Rustic Wedding Theme

To Conclude

Lanterns Hanging From Trees |
Featured above: Mini Lanterns and Deep Plum Ribbon

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.

Black and White Wedding Umbrellas |
Featured above: “Just Married” Wedding Umbrellas in black and white

Did we miss any pros or cons? Leave a comment!

Read more on getting married outdoors here.

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