Are you having an outdoor summer wedding? Then you’re probably imagining the most perfect day where the sun is shining, the breeze is gently blowing and your guests are sipping on champagne, having the time of their lives and commenting on how this is the most beautiful wedding they’ve ever seen. But what you’re not thinking about is Mother Nature having her wicked way and those same guests getting cold from a sudden summer shower or the cake melting from the heat and your dress sticking to your back.

As gorgeous as an outdoor wedding can be, there’s also a significant amount of legwork that has to be done to make sure your alfresco celebration goes off without a hitch. But worry not! We have the tips that you need to know from Melanie, a wedding expert from Cranberry Blue Weddings & Events, on how to ensure your outdoor do is not a miss, but full of wedding bliss!

Pick the perfect venue

There are so many venues available so consider what’s most important to you and make a short list of ones to visit.  Ask lots of questions – do they have the option for a legal outside ceremony for example, is there space for a marquee, what time can everything go on until, are fireworks allowed etc., you want to ensure that all of the plus points of having a summer wedding are covered.

Choose your marquee

Think about the style of reception you’d like to have and then what type of marquee to choose as this will provide the backdrop to your day.  You could choose from a contemporary frame marquee, traditional pole marquee or tipis for example, all of which give a very different look.

Have a backup plan

If you’re getting married in the UK we all know how unpredictable the British weather can be, so while you may have found your perfect venue with oodles of outside space, and envisage the majority of the day being held outside it’s vital to have a backup plan.  If you’re planning to have your ceremony in the open air then a stretch marquee structure will provide enough cover if there’s only light rain but you also need a really good alternative inside in case the weather is really bad.

Make sure everyone can be heard

For an open air ceremony then something people often forget is making sure everyone can hear what’s being said as it’s surprising how hard it can be for sound to travel.  You can hire the necessary PA systems and microphones inexpensively but it’s certainly worth it so your guests are fully involved in the most important part of the day.

Create the design concept

Think about colour, detail and the décor of your day – how can you make it personal to you.  Summer is one of the best times of the year for flowers so choose seasonal blooms and inject some colour into the day.  If you’re having a marquee then you have a wonderfully blank canvas to do whatever you like, and you can use the structure and height to hang décor from the ceiling and create real impact to the space.

Get the temperature right

Although you will be keeping everything crossed for a beautifully sunny day, you don’t want your guests to be melting in the sun.  Ensure you have a good air conditioning system in the marquee, offer guests fans for the ceremony which can also act as a wedding favour and it’s always nice to serve your guests a cold non-alcoholic drink before the ceremony too.  If it’s not quite as warm as you were hoping though then consider providing pashminas for your female guests which they can also use as it gets chilly in the evenings.

Serve the ideal drinks

Choose summery drinks for your reception and ensure you offer a variety of non-alcoholic options in the heat such as virgin cocktails, old fashioned lemonade, cordials and of course water.  Mojitos, a classic Pimms or the current trend for iced-tea cocktails will all help to keep your guests cool.  Don’t forget the ice either but rather than plain ice cubes, what about adding edible flowers to make your drinks look more attractive.

Be creative with food

Make the most of the (hopefully) warm evenings and think about having food trucks serving great alternatives to an old fashioned buffet later into the party.  These come in the form of shiny vintage Airstreams or retro vans so guests can have a more interactive experience outside.  Mexican burritos, hamburgers, creperie stands, mini posh pies or tacos are just some examples or fun and popular options that are sure to go down well with your guests after a few drinks.

Keep your guests entertained

To avoid the reception dragging you want to have some great entertainment for both adults and children.  There is a vast array of options available but strolling musicians and acts such as caricaturists or close-up magicians who can mingle amongst you and your guests on the lawns work well and can move indoors easily should it rain. A great alternative to the ever popular photo booth is to have one that’s inside a London black taxi and is sure to go down well with guests.

Check the details

It’s easy to get carried away with the all the fun stuff but it’s vital to check the less exciting aspects during the planning process such as access to the venue for suppliers, is there sufficient parking, is the ground level enough for a marquee, do you need to hire toilets and a generator for power, does your chosen venue have a licence to conduct ceremonies outside etc.?