Updated: Nov 13, 2020
It's time for a new blog series! We're answering some of the biggest questions our couples have, from the beginning of their planning to the moment they leave their reception! Today's topic is about outdoor weddings, which in Florida can be a challenge no matter what time of the year it is. Let's look into the mind of our owner Bonny Bailey to get the coordinator's perspective on how to make your outdoor wedding a huge success!
Always Have a Backup Plan
Being outdoors is, by definition, an uncontrolled environment, so it's important to give yourself back some control. You do this by having a backup plan for any possible hurdle that might get in your way. In Florida, this begins and ends with the possibility of inclement weather. No matter what time of year your wedding takes place, there is always a chance of rain. If you have a fall or winter wedding in mind, there's no guarantee the weather will be cool, so heat and humidity are still a concern. Mother Nature loves her bugs, so those are around no matter the season. So how do we handle all this?
What your backup plan will be is largely going to depend on your venue. If they have a large space directly next to where your outdoor spot is, such as the Ballroom at Highland Manor or the upstairs space at Timacuan Golf & Country Club, then it will be as easy as prepping the indoor space for you and your guests to retreat into if things turn ugly. If things are a little more spread out on the property, consider having transportation to take you from your primary site to the backup location, something like large passenger vans if there's no easy access to your guests' cars.
If your location is more isolated, leaving no options for indoor backup space, the best plan is to rent a tent for the day. You can still get the outdoor feeling by rolling up the tent flaps if the weather stays good, but you have full protection against the elements just in case. An example where this would be an ideal strategy would be at the marina at Mission Inn Resort which is at least bout a 5-minute drive from a suitable indoor backup space. There is a small building at the marina but it is only usable as a staging space, not for the wedding itself. However the grounds are huge, so the open-air setup could be on one side, and the tent could be on the other, offering easy access no matter what.
If rain is in the forecast, your coordinator and venue manager will typically make the call to move to the backup plan no later than 90 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. This gives time to move chairs, decor, and prep your guests and wedding party for the adjusted logistics. During your planning process, work with your coordinator to review the weather trends for your wedding date, which will help you determine what kind of accommodations you will want to include in your backup plan.
Consider Your Decorations
Planning for every contingency means taking your decor into consideration as well. You want to be sure that any must-have elements will work indoors as well as outdoors. Say you want to have a 20-foot tall arch draped with a curtain of roses as the backdrop for your ceremony. It's no problem to have it outside, but if the weather turns, can it be moved inside? Will it fit through the door or under the ceiling of whatever room you would have as a backup space? If you want to wait to install it until the 90-minute call is made, will that leave time for it to be built? Will the florist wait that long to bring and install the flowers that will adorn the arch?
You will also want to think about the different elements of your decor and how they will fit with nature even if the rain stays away. If you want to have open-air candles, any amount of wind could keep them from staying lit or make dripping wax a potential problem for table linens. Battery-powered candles look more realistic every day and could be a great option. You also want to consider your cake, as the Florida humidity can take a toll on even the sturdiest confection. If you are considering a cheesecake, the heat and humidity could actually spoil the cake by the time it's ready to cut and eat, so you would need a way to keep it refrigerated throughout the day.
Keep Your Guests' Needs in Mind
The comfort and health of your guests is obviously a high priority, especially in the summer months here in Florida. If you have older guests that will be attending, it's almost a requirement that they have a space where they can escape the direct sun and oppressive heat. Whether that means large fans to ensure airflow or an air-conditioned tent to provide the most relief, it all depends on your guests. The last thing you want is someone becoming overwhelmed by the heat and having to seek medical attention for them. You can also choose to have some fun with it and create personalized mister fans for each guest, but depending on the level of formality in their dress, that may not be something they wish to partake in.
Whichever option you choose, it will make the day of the wedding less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone if you put in some thought and planning with your coordinator along the way. These products and many more can be found at Orlando Wedding & Party Rentals, along with other rental companies in the area.
Expect the Unexpected!
No matter how much planning you do, there's always the chance that something happens which you never anticipated. This is one reason that it makes sense to hire a day-of wedding coordinator, so they can deal with any potential craziness while you and your partner enjoy your wedded bliss and the giant party you've spent all this time planning!
One perfect example was a wedding last year where the cake vendor had the wedding on the wrong date on her schedule. Bonny called a local bakery owner and had her bring out a display cake so there was something beautiful on the table throughout the reception. Then once the ceremony was over, she drove to Publix and bought a sheet cake so that the couple and their guests had cake to eat at the end of the night. The bride and groom never had to worry about a thing and could keep on dancing while the problem was handled.
The moral of the story is this: plan for everything you can think of, hire strong professional vendors who know the business and the local area, and then leave it up to those professionals on the day of your wedding so you can enjoy a stress-free day!
Thank you for checking out the first in our series, Coordinator Confidential! For more great advice and fantastic real weddings you can check out the rest of our blog posts here, and you can contact us with questions here. We would love to quote any of our coordination and entertainment services for you!