Planning your vow renewal ceremony and/or reception outdoors requires some special forethought and essentials since nature tends to be extremely unpredictable. Taking special care and precautions will help assure your special day goes off without unneeded stress and issues.

1. A Backup Plan
No matter what the weather is usually like for the date you have set, you need a backup plan. A tent or alternative venue is essential in case of rain, strong wind, excess heat or even hail or snow. Be sure to let your vendors know ahead of time of your backup plan so that things will move flawlessly if you should need to use it. For example, one couple had three tentative dates picked out for the following year – Memorial Day weekend, June 11th, and the 4th of July weekend and all three dates this year had weather that had the potential to ruin their special day; two had serious rain and the third had temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Comfort for All
The last thing you want is a ceremony where the insects outnumber the guests by at least 10 to 1 or the temperatures are driving everyone away! Planning ahead for these situations will help make are your guests, and you are as comfortable as possible. Uninvited insects can be kept at bay by spraying the area with an insect control spray and lighting citronella candles (which could do double duty as part of your centerpieces). You might also consider setting out baskets of inset repellent wipes for guests. If the weather is extremely hot, bring in several large fans to help keep the air moving throughout the space, present guests with paper fans as programs or favors, and offer cold drinks in abundance before the ceremony and throughout the event. On the other hand, if the weather is especially cold, bring in heat lamps and place them throughout the space, opt for personal sized blankets as favors, and serve a variety of hot drinks to keep everyone warm. Don’t forget to make sure there are adequate restroom facilities available or rent portable ones so that your guests can spend their time celebrating with you instead of waiting in line all evening.

3. Lighting
If the sun will set before your reception ends, be sure you have adequate lighting so guests can enjoy your decor, safely move about the space, and make their way to their cars at the end of the night. Accent shrubbery, trees, and railings with strands of lights include candles in your table decor and rent lamps. If your space is very large, hiring lighting professionals to plan out your lighting to make sure you don’t have any outages due to excess voltage needs.

4. Decor
An outdoor reception in a garden, backyard, or near the water means you’ll need to prepare for nature’s unpredictable elements, such as the wind. Plan your table decor with the wind in mind. Select tablecloths made of heavier material, secure paper place cards, and menus by setting them in frames or tying them down with ribbon, make sure centerpieces have enough weight to stay upright, and cover candles with glass hurricanes so the breeze won’t extinguish the flame.

5. Food
The heat can turn your beautiful buffet into a nightmare if you don’t plan your menu carefully! Make sure your caterer stays away from foods that easily spoil, such as dishes that include mayonnaise, or are prone to melting, such as some cheese trays. If possible, have your wedding cake held somewhere cool indoors until you are about ready to cut it. If that’s not possible, have it frozen and allow it to thaw in the heat. Buttercream frosting tends to melt easily in the heat, so fondant may be a better option for an outdoor venue.