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6 tips for planning your outdoor wedding

bride holding champagne at her outdoor wedding

I, Sarah Watkins, of Lucalia Photography, do love outdoor weddings! And because you're reading this, I assume you do too. I love working with people who have a personal connection to the outdoor place they are getting married. Outdoor weddings are fantastic for all sizes of celebrations from private elopements, to intimate gatherings of your closest family and friends, to larger weddings.

I've been so lucky to photograph some stunning ceremonies: beach weddings, mountain weddings, vineyard weddings, garden weddings and private bay weddings.

All outdoor wedding venues benefit from bearing a few tips in mind. These are based on my years of experience as a professional wedding photographer and from planning my own outdoor wedding (we were married in a field with mountains in the background!).

wedding party walking on a dirt road in the bush

Tip 1: choose mindfully

Choose a location that you are connected too, not just that you think is pretty. Be motivated by your feelings, history and future together, instead of Pinterest. Meaningful locations could be the beach you had family gatherings at as a child; the mountain you climbed together on your first date; your favourite vineyard or the waterfall you've dreamed of visiting together.

outdoor wedding ceremony with river and mountain in the background

Tip 2: the view

Related to both Tips 1 and 3, consider the view behind your ceremony. What will you and your guests be looking at whilst vows are being exchanged? Some couples like to have arches or flowers to frame themselves. Can this frame be provided by nature itself? Is there a tree, rows of grape vines, or a mountain range that draws you into the surroundings?

married couple after signing the marriage certificate on a beach with champagne

Tip 3: sun

Consider the direction and intensity of sun light, at the time of day your ceremony will take place. It could be devastating to not be able to see the tears of joy in your partners eyes because you are blinded by the sun. If you want a specific look in your photos (for example bright blue sky above snow capped mountains, 'golden hour', sunrise or sunset), please chat to your photographer as well as your wedding planner.

wet weather wedding ceremony back up plan indoor garden

Tip 4: bad weather back up plan

Have a wet weather or bad weather back up plan, and make sure you love it just as much as your plan A. This will help to reduce stress leading up to and on your wedding day. If you love your inside location just as much as your outdoor spot, making the decision to relocate won't be as difficult. Bad weather can take many forms rain, wind, extreme heat, snow, ice the list goes on! Back up plans could be a stylish marquee, tee pee, rustic barn, local hall or your reception venue. Our wet weather venue was in between the beautiful copper stills used for making aged apple brandy: we loved this idea very much!

hats in a suitcase on a beach for wedding guests to wear

Tip 5: comfort and access

If you're inviting guests, think of their comfort as well as your own. Could it be hot or cold; in the sun or rain; could there be mozzies or flies? Consider providing umbrellas, hats, bright woolly blankets to share or cute little bottles of insect repellent. What is the ground and access to your chosen spot like? Is there grass, sand, cobblestones, mud, steep slopes, does getting there involve bush walking? Do any guests have a disability or need assistance to walk, can they safely attend your wedding? Similarly, advise your guests on appropriate footwear so they can be prepared and comfortable. Other things to consider regarding guest comfort are toilets and transport. Advise of these beforehand.

black and white wedding veil on concrete floor outside with rose petals

Tip 6: engage a wedding planner

My biggest tip is to engage a trusted local wedding planner. These industry professionals take care of all the details and logistics, and know the best way to achieve your vision. If you don't know what your vision is, they can help with that too! They work with reputed vendors handling all the quoting, correspondence and exactly how many fairy lights you need. Wedding planners ensure your day runs smoothly, whilst you enjoy celebrating your love with family and friends.

If you would like me to capture your outdoor wedding, I'd love to hear from you. Email's the best way to contact me.

Lots of love, Sarah x

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