I LIVE FOR outdoor ceremonies. Give me all the natural light, fresh air, a gorgeous backdrop- I’m a happy girl. I had my own wedding outdoors! While they are GORGEOUS, there are also some external factors that are good to think about when setting up and planning your ceremony. We’re going to be dealing with the weather, the sun, the wind, the grass, natural elements like trees, the temperature, etc! A lot to consider, and honestly, a lot of it is out of out control but there are some things tips and tricks to help it work in our favor. For outdoor ceremonies, light is the most important thing to think about and there are some things to consider to set us up for success with these locations.
TIME OF DAY
The time of day your ceremony is happening with where it is happening is so important, and will literally be changing hour to hour throughout the day. We want to avoid harsh unflattering light and find the best time of day for that soft beautiful light. The harshest light is going to be at the middle of the day, when the sun is directly overhead (if you can help it, please don’t get married during this time outdoors!) That soft beautiful light I mentioned above is going to happen late afternoon as the sun is on its way down. For time of day, you also want to consider the HEAT in the summer months. If you are having an outdoor ceremony, planning a ceremony a little later in the day will be more enjoyable for both you and your guests sitting outside. If you are getting married later in the year, having an earlier ceremony is best because of where the sun will be located in the sky.
THE SUN (our friend and our enemy)
I LOVE a good sunny day as much as the next person, but I do NOT love it directly on my couples casting harsh shadows. While we want you to have an amazing and beautiful backdrop for your ceremony, we also want to plan it with the direction of the sun in mind. It doesn’t matter which direction the sun is going as long as we are working with nice even light. There are positives and negatives to every sun angle, so we do our best to make it work regardless:
If the sun is coming from the side, either left or right, keep in mind of of you will be looking into the sun and one of you will be in the shade.
If the sun is coming directly at you and is behind your guests, then you will be in full light and maybe squinting a little bit, maybe sweating, but the light will at least be even.
If the sun is coming behind you, and on the faces of your guests, the light will be even on you guys and will be in the eyes of your guests.
You can see, the sun will always be on someone, but ideally if we can make it as even as possible- that would be ideal. Avoiding side lighting whenever possible. My favorite would be the sun behind you guys, if there is an altar or some trees I can filter the sun through that’s ideal!
It’s super dreamy to get married under some gorgeous trees, right!? Especially here in the PNW where big green trees are so much of our scenery! Generally, they are awesome for providing shade, but there are a few situations that make them hard to work with. As mentioned above, we want EVEN light. I HIGHLY recommend the week of your wedding, watching the sun AT your ceremony location (super cute wedding week date night!? grab a drink and go watch the sun, maybe jot down your vows, make an event of it!) But what we are looking for is where the shade and sun are going to be. Ideally, we want the bride and the groom and the wedding party to all be in nice even lighting. Even lighting under a tree is full shade, what can happen with trees is we can sometimes get spotty lighting where there are little tiny bits of light which are nearly impossible to adjust later on.
WEATHER BACK UPS
Knock on wood, but here in the PNW, it’s safe to have some weather back up options in mind for these outdoor ceremonies. If you have always dreamed of an outdoor ceremony, there is usually ways to make this still happen for you despite a little rain as long as we are proactive about this ahead of time. If your day is looking like light rain, why not look into renting some cute umbrellas for your wedding party and guests? Bella’s Umbrellas in Seattle can rent out a bunch of umbrellas to keep everyone dry. Or there are lots of options for clear tents to cover your ceremony spot, but you will want to reach out to the companies at LEAST 2 weeks in advance to make sure this is an option.
One thing that always helps an outdoor ceremony is a welcome table for your guests. Below you can see they included some fold out fans, tissues, programs and there was a galvanized tub with beverages in it. Offering guests a little bit of hospitality upon arrival goes a long way! If it’s going to be hot, offering fans and water. Or if it’s going to be cold, some blankets or hot cocoa! Additionally, making sure your guests have plenty of seats is important. Ceremony photos can look funny with guests standing in the back (it can also impede on my camera’s view) simply asking all guests to take their seats prior to beginning the ceremony can help out with this. On the opposite side of the spectrum, having a bunch of empty seats can be noticeable in photos, asking a coordinator to clear the empty rows prior to beginning can be helpful.