Making Sure Your Celebration Under the Sun or Stars Goes as Planned
Th great outdoors can be the perfect location to create a spectacular ceremony and reception site for your special day if you’ve been dreaming of having your vow renewal at the beach as the sun sets on the water, on a hilltop overlooking a beautiful valley, at the park, or in your gorgeous backyard. To use nature as your venue, you’ll want to take a few precautions and follow a few tidbits of advice to ensure everything is as you imagined from lessons learned by other couples. Mother Nature can deliver a quite splendid celebration backdrop, but she can also be quite unpredictable! If you think that this will be an inexpensive option, you might be surprised. With the cost of rentals and extra facilities you’ll need to ensure everyone’s comfort, the bill can really add up.
Outdoor Vow Renewal Planning Basics
- Location – Get started by selecting your location. Maybe you already have a park, beach, or garden already in mind or perhaps you need to check out your options first. Either way, it’s always important to do a visual inspection of the site and the facilities before committing. You’ll want to take some measurements to be sure it truly is large rough to accommodate your planned guest list. You’ll also want to make sure that the conditions of use for the location work with your needs. For example, if you are choosing a public location, you might need a permit to host an event there. You’ll also have to find out what the restrictions are including the number of guests you can invite, noise levels, if alcohol consumption is allowed, or hours and dates of availability. With private locations, there tend to be fewer restrictions and fewer distractions; no uninvited guests or strangers stopping to watch.
- Restrooms – You need one facility per 50 people. If the location doesn’t have sufficient facilities, you’ll need to rent them.
- Power – Make sure that you have a nearby power source or you’ll need to invest in a generator to power sound systems, lighting, and cooling systems. You’ll also want to discuss this with your caterer.
- Parking – Sometimes an outdoor site will not have enough parking available to accommodate your guests, regardless of whether it is private or public. Consider renting a shuttle bus or trolley to get people from a larger parking area to the vow renewal location.
- Party Tent – You’ll want protection from the sun and/or rain! Tents come in all different colors and sizes to meet your needs. Some even have sides, while others don’t. Choose accordingly if you feel that weather might be an issue to deal with. Be sure you understand the cost for delivery and set up, as it can add quite a large amount to the cost of the rental.
- Dance Floor – If you’re planning on have music, then you’ll want a dance floor! Check with party supply stores and caterers about renting one. Make sure your estimates include the setup and delivery costs when comparing prices.
- Banquet Tables and Chairs – If you’re hiring a caterer, ask if they provide chairs and tables. Otherwise, check with the local party rental stores to get estimates (be sure to get delivery and setup fees). If you’re having a cocktail reception only, you’ll want enough seating for 30-50% of your guests. Don’t forget tables for food!
- Linens – Tablecloths are a wonderful way to add color to your reception. White is always classic. You’ll need one for every guest, food, and drink table. You’ll also want table skirts for food, cake, and drink tables. Cloth napkins are also a nice touch to add a little easy formality to your celebration.
- Tableware – Glasses, cups, plates, silverware, and so on will need to be rented if you are catering your own reception or if they are not included in the catering fees. There are endless options for tableware at most party rental stores. You can also opt to go more casual with disposable tableware (just be sure to get enough extra trash cans to accommodate the additional waste.
- Trash Cans – While not a lovely accent to your celebration, trash cans are a must-have. Some caterers will provide them, but if not, you can rent, borrow, or buy them. Be sure to have enough for both the bar and food.
Outdoor Vow Renewal Decor
In most case, part of the reason for choosing an outdoor venue is so that you can reduce costs on decorations since outdoor settings provide natural beauty for the celebration. However, there are times when you may want to add a little additional color or structure to the area. Consider some of the following decorations:
- Arches – Arches create a romantic look when covered with flowers and greenery. They are perfect for marking the entrance to your event and for creating a ceremony backdrop.
- Flower Arrangements and Topiaries – A selection of cut or potted flowers will add color and elegance to any venue. Place arrangements on tables, set them on columns, or use them to line the aisle.
- Clear String Lights – The same lights popular for Christmas can be used to add a touch of twinkling light to your evening vow renewal ceremony and reception. The possibilities are endless for their use! String them through trees, from the tent ceiling, or around banners.
- Paper or Japanese Lanterns – Quickly add light, color, and style to your ceremony and reception areas by hanging matching colored lanterns in trees, under umbrellas, or under the tent.
- Candles – Candles are a wonderful way to add romance and light to an evening reception or ceremony providing they are windproof. Place them in candelabras or on tables and pedestals.
- Chair Decorations – These can take even the most basic rental chair from drab to fab. Plus they are an easy way to add color and formality to your ceremony or reception. Your venue or party rental store should have a wide variety of chair covers and sashes to select from.
Outdoor Vow Renewal Weather and Nature Considerations
When it comes to nature and the elements, a good offense is essential to planning a wonderful vow renewal outdoors. Here are some tips to keep your and your guests happy and comfortable:
- Sun and Heat
- The best defense is to rent a tent. Tables with umbrellas will also work if you’re sure that the wind won’t be an issue Either of these will keep the sun off people, helping to keep them comfortable in the heat.
- Inside tents, fans and air conditioning units powered by generators may also help combat sweltering summer heat. If you’re planning an event in the spring or fall, you’ll also want to be sure to have either electric or gas heaters on hand in case it dips below 65 degrees. When using either electric heating or cooling elements, you’ll need to use duct tape, carpeting, or cord covers /protectors to keep the cords from becoming a tripping hazard.
- If you’re expecting a scorching day, keep guests cool as the arrive by giving them a cold bottle of water and a fan. Printing your programs on fans is a great way to get double duty from both!
- If guests will be in the sun during your ceremony or reception, sunscreen also makes a great favor! Hand little bottles out as guests arrive since chances are good they won’t have any on hand themselves.
- Make sure to select a menu that will hold up well even in the heat. Help guests stay hydrated with light refreshments, such as iced tea, lemonade, and punch. If you’ll be serving alcohol, select signature cocktails that have a high water to alcohol ratio.
- Finally, be sure to visit the ceremony location at the same time of day a few days beforehand to make sure that the sun won’t be in your eyes or that it will cause problems for your photographer.
- When selecting a beach or hilltop location, see how windy it typically is. If there is much of a breeze, you’ll need a sturdy tent with thick, weighted sides that can be held down securely. While this will help, remember that tents can only withstand so much. Light breezes to moderate winds are the limitations. Gusting winds will require a Plan B!
- It’s amazing how little wind it takes to create havoc on tablecloths and centerpieces. Be sure your centerpieces have weighted bottoms, and all candle holders are designed to protect the flame. You can also pin or clamp down tablecloths to prevent any uplift. The best way to make sure that the decorations and table settings you like will hold up to the wind is to test it out for yourself with an industrial fan!
- Pick a dress that’s wind and weather friendly. You want something that’s more fitted than flowing to make sure it stays down! Keep the expected temperature in mind as well when choosing the fabric. You don’t want to be melting away or freezing.
- Be sure to get your stylist to create an updo that can withstand the wind unless you’re going for a sexy, tousled look.
- There is no weather forecaster that can predict the weather a week in advance, much less a year ahead. While it’s not easy to plan for any kind of weather, keep in mind the two extremes that are common for your date and plan accordingly. Typically this means either rain and heat or rain and cold. Either way, a tent is a good idea!
- In creating a Plan B, you might opt for an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception. That way, if the weather isn’t cooperating, you can move your ceremony into your reception area.
- Birds and Bugs
- When choosing your venue, see if birds are a problem. Is there a major bird feeding area near by? Do you see a lot of bird nests? If so, keep in mind they can make a lot of noise and leave droppings as they fly overhead.
- Spray the ceremony and reception area well with bug spray or do an extermination to keep bugs from ruining your celebration. Decorative citronella candles and torches can also be used as part of the decor.
A Final Note About Renting
Always do your research about the rental companies you are considering using before signing any rental agreements. Not all rental companies have wonderful reputations. Ask friends, family, neighbors, and venues for referrals. If you are using a party planner, check with them. It’s also a good idea to check out their reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Always get the details in writing, including payment procedures, a comprehensive invoice, cancellation policies, complete contact information for the vendor during and after regular business hours, and a summary of the services that will be included in the total price. Make sure it includes fees and times for delivery, setup/tear down, and pick-up. If you are doing the picking up and setting up yourselves, ask about how far in advance you can get the rental items in order to start setting up. If you have emergency rental reservations made just in case you think the weather might be an issue, ask about cancellation policies for those items. Finally, ask them about any liability insurance they might have. Note: If you are renting a lot of items, check with your credit card company and homeowners/renters insurance company to see what they might cover for damages or liability as well.