About Outdoor Weddings
Many of the weddings I have been involved with have taken place outdoors. When I was asked to write about my experiences with outdoor weddings and what advice I could give to help brides plan their outdoor weddings, the first images which came to mind was the paper runner.
The paper runner is sometimes if not often caught by the wind. When this happens during the ceremony, I have seen bridesmaids trip over it or have difficulty walking on it. Once I even saw a bride fall head first as the wind blew the paper runner around her feet! It wasn't a pretty sight. My husband John also remembers two different weddings where there had apparently been rain a day or two previously. When the wedding party made their way to walk onto the paper runner, the bottom of their shoes were very dirty and some even muddy. This put nasty shoe prints all down the runner where everyone had walked. Then of course comes the bride later in her beautiful white wedding gown! By the time the bride at one of those weddings had made it to the alter area, the bottom of her gown looked like she had a trash the dress portrait session.
Based on these experiences years ago, we advise everyone who is having an outdoor wedding to seriously consider flower petals in place of a paper runner. The flower petals are natural and the colors are more visually interesting to see in photographs of an outdoor wedding. Especially if the outdoor wedding location is a garden wedding, flower petals make the perfect "natural runner" for a garden wedding. And if there happens to be some strong wind while the bride is walking down the flower petal aisle, you may be lucky enough to have some exceptional photos of the bride's veil and flower petals flying around her as she walks down the aisle.
Considering how even the slightest of breezes may blow out candles, I don't recommend unity candles during the Ceremony. Most couples in love realize this and usually plan a sand pouring Ceremony.
Of course when it comes to outdoor weddings the first thing everyone is concerned about is the weather. Depending on the time of the year, will it be too hot or rainy? I have coordinated at weddings out in the middle of fields in July and the sun beating down on everyone was enough to cause some people to nearly faint. Making sure there is plenty of drinking water helps. Especially for older people and children. The top of bald or balding mens' heads were baked. My suggestion is that if you just have to have your wedding and/or reception outdoors and those conditions are a possibility, have a large tent available. You might also provide your guests umbrellas which may be used for protection against the sun or rain.
We remember one wedding where it was so hot that many of the mens' shirts were soaked with sweat . . . and the photographer still had formal group portraits to shoot. Also make-up on many of the ladies was difficult and faces in close-up shots were shiny from perspiration. This is why we always recommend that paper towels or hand cloths be made available so people may pat their faces dry. This is also true for weddings indoors. When people are formally attired and men are in tuxedos and the indoor location air conditioning has not been properly adjusted, people will often perspire making their faces shiny.
So paper towels or hand cloths are great to have. Even though most professional photographers will retouch such issues in photos, the time it saves them not having to minimize or remove facial shine will give your photographer(s) more time to provide other retouch for your wedding images. On more of a technical note, midtones and highlights in photos are often washed out or completely blown out by direct sunlight when captured with a digital camera. This is sometimes not an issue with some people. But the fact is, your wedding photographs should be technically superior when shot without direct sunlight blaring down on most everything and more of your photographs will have better tonal rendition and pleasing contrast. Probably most people are also "squinters" when outdoors and this is just another reason for generally avoiding photography in direct sunlight.
I have also heard of automatic water sprinklers coming on during the ceremony and I have seen grounds keepers coming out with weed eaters and lawn mowers while taking the couple and their wedding parties around the venue for fun outdoor portraits on the wedding day. But with complete and proper planning, you can make sure these and other things that shouldn't happen, don't happen on the big day.
The last thing a bride wants during the middle of her wedding ceremony is fire trucks and any other emergency vehicles with sirens blaring or fender benders taking place right next to the ceremony! I have been to other venues located on streets and even at intersections where police, fire and ambulance sirens have interrupted the ceremonies several different weddings. So keep this in mind, especially when paying for wedding video.