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Outdoor Weddings, Part I

by Christine Stieber, The Perfect Day, Southern California, 714-792-0115

An outdoor is a dream setting for a lot of couples. But, this beautiful arena will be filled with challenges to be addressed to insure a wonderful wedding day.

A Beach or Park Setting, what a dream location for a wedding and or a reception. Outside in the sunshine surrounded by nature and your friends, what a wonderful atmosphere in which to celebrate. Sounds perfect doesn't it? It will be with a lot of forethought, great attention to details, and the right professionals assisting you... but neglect any of these elements and it could definitely turn into a nightmare.

Some locations only allow weddings (no receptions) to take place on their grounds. If you wish to include your reception the list of locations will be smaller and the list of considerations will grow immensely.

Rules and Regulations: Each beach and park has it's own set of rules. This type of setting is usually run by an individual city or a Parks and Recreation Department. You will need to check with them regarding their rules. Including...

Cost for renting the location. Is it by the hour? Is there a minimum number of hours or a maximum number?

Number of guests who will comfortably fit into this area. Is there a charge per person? How much?

Parking at the beach is one of the greatest challenges. Some locations have their own lot. The normal charge is $5.00 per car. You will need to prearrange with the parking company to pay in advance for your guest's parking fee. If there is not a private lot it is very chancy to expect that everyone will find a parking place when competing with the general public. If you have to use street parking it will probably be metered. Give each guest a sign to place in their window and then assign someone to ride around on a bicycle and put in quarters at the appropriate time. The best option is to arrange for a central area where everyone will park. If there is not a convenient one in the area that you can rent then you will need to ask your guest's to meet at another location and bring them in by shuttle or bus. Do not use public lots without permission because they will tow the cars away. Also, will you need handicapped access at the parking lot as well as the shuttle? Sometimes the city has a recommendation of parking locations or parking companies.

Comfort of you and your guest's is very important. Will you need electricity? Are there restroom facilities close by? Is running water necessary? What about a canopy or tent? Heating or cooling should also be considered. Having a "rain plan" is mandatory. You, your guests, and your food (including your wedding cake) will certainly stay fresher when you have addressed these issues.

Amplified Music is usually what everyone wants for their reception, but, it is not allowed at many outdoor public areas. Consider guitar, violin, harp, flute, etc. The musicians will definitely need shade.

Alcohol Service is only permitted at private city parks and beaches. Public areas do not allow alcohol consumption. There is a special fee and permit which is obtained from the city. You will also need to provide a proof of liability insurance.

Insects - Ants, bees, wasps, etc. Have a bee anti-venom solution near by.

Personnel/Security - Will there be someone from the facility on the site during your wedding/event? Should you hire someone from the outside?

For your comfort and peace of mind use professionals who work in a beach/outdoor setting frequently...

Photographers and Videographers who work comfortably in the outdoors with natural light are the ones to choose.

A Florist can help you choose hardy flowers that will withstand the full sun also make certain they are individually in water.

Wedding Coordinators... Do you have the time, energy, and expertise to manage the details or will your need a professional to assist with coordination? An outdoor setting will entail more details, both in the planning as well as the actual day, than any other location.

A beach or park is already so lovely that centerpieces may be as simple as a potted flowering plant wrapped in cellophane. Let your imagination go. Also, you can set up your aisle almost anywhere using some creative rentals. A beach or park can be a very formal setting, sit down dinner or a buffet luncheon or even a casual BBQ.

Your agreement with the facility should include: firm pricing in writing and a specific list of what is and is not included and what you may and need to supply.

Minding all of the details and including the best professionals will insure that your memories will all be wonderful and the only reason someone will tap you on the shoulder will be to invite you to dance.


Christine Stieber
The Perfect Day


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