Updated: Apr 14, 2022
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!
Tent inspiration from our friends at Orlando Wedding & Party Rental
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.
The Marina at Mission Inn Resort
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.
Gorgeous outdoor reception setup under a tent. Source: Orlando Wedding & Party Rentals