Outdoor Weddings

Tips for planning an outdoor wedding

Outdoor weddings appeal greatly to Kiwis and International visitors alike.
From cruising in the Marlborough sounds to enjoying the beaches of Nelson,
from Appleby vineyards to the Nelson lakes,
from Isel Park to the Historic Melrose House gardens,
we’re spoilt for choice!

So here’s some things to think about to enhance your outdoor experience.

If you’re planning a beach wedding, check the tide times well in advance of sending out your invitations
to make sure you’re going to have the backdrop you imagine for your ceremony and your photos!

Check with your local council to ensure they’ll allow you to use this public space on your wedding day,
and that there aren’t already other weddings booked for your favourite stretch of N-Z!
Ask if there’s any cost involved. Usually it’s much more affordable (even free!) to marry outdoors than at a venue.

If you're planning on using one of our gorgeous National Parks (such as the Abel Tasman or National Lakes),
make sure you contact DOC to find out if you need a permit.  There are special conditions to using these parks for weddings.
DON'T assume you can just turn up on your big day with 80 guests in tow!

Check where the sun angles will be during your ceremony to ensure you’ll get the best photos.
If you’re standing with the sun directly behind you, your guests will be squinting and your photos silhouetted.
If the sun is angled across you, your partner or the celebrant might be casting you in shadow.

Is there a private area for your ceremony or are you happy with the public wandering past
as you share your vows? You may need to embrace the informality that marrying outdoors brings!

Will the ground you’ll walk over be sandy, uneven or muddy,
and will this impact on your style of dress and shoes?
Could you lay a ‘flax carpet’ for your isle?
Ensure your own shoes and those of your bridal party are appropriate for the ground you’ll be walking over.

If you’re planning a mid-summer wedding – is there adequate shade for your guests?
Purchasing a few dozen cheap (preferably white) umbrellas to give to your guests may provide welcome shade.
You may also like to provide sunblock and insect repellent to make your guests more comfortable.

There’s no need to go overboard decorating an outdoor space
(although The Wedding Kit is definitely an easy way to bring glamour!).
It is worth having a quick spruce up of the area.
Send a small team in the morning with a rake, broom, secateurs and rubbish bag.
Maybe add some ribbon, flax or toitoi to make the area festive.

There’s no need to limit the number of guests you can invite to an outdoor wedding,
but do beg, borrow or hire some seating for your senior guests.

Ask if your celebrant or DJ can provide a sound system so your guests can hear your precious vows, or else hire one.

Ensure there’s enough parking for your guests.

Ensure access is appropriate for the age and mobility of your guests. (How far and over what terrain will they need to walk?)

Have a plan B in case of bad weather!
It’s rare to rain in these parts during the summer months, but it does happen, so ensure you’ve got a clear contingency plan!
Check the weather forecast three days out from your wedding, and if it’s looking inclement,
urgently discuss things with your photographer and celebrant.
Make sure you have a list of your guest's and wedding supplier's contact numbers so that if you do need to change your arrangements,
you can easily let everyone know!

Now relax and go with the flow!
Embrace the informality that comes with outdoor weddings!

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