Outdoor Wedding Ideas & Dresses


Summer is here and so is outdoor wedding season! If you’re a bride who will say “I do” beyond the ballroom and into the great outdoors, read on. We’ve asked several top-rated wedding planners to share their tips and current trends for tying the knot outside.

Outdoor Wedding Ideas & Venues

With spectacular photo opportunities, it’s no wonder outdoor weddings are popular. According to Diane George, Owner and Senior Consultant for Covenant Weddings & Occasions in Maryland, mansions with lush gardens and vineyards with rolling hills are in higher demand in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area. Waterfront weddings are also a stunning option.

San Diego weddings are mostly about the waterfront according to Amy Ulkutekin, Owner and Event Producer for First Comes Love Weddings & Events. That’s because in San Diego, like many coastal cities, there are so many venues with epic water views.

Resorts and restaurants can offer views of oceans, lakes, mountains, gardens or vineyards. But if you’re looking for a location off the beaten path, consider these venues as picturesque outdoor wedding ideas:

  • Botanical garden
  • City or national park
  • Courthouse
  • Cruise  
  • Farm or ranch
  • Historic home  
  • Museum
  • Outdoor theater
  • Public beach  
  • Summer camp
  • Winery
  • Zoo

Wait. Before you book an outdoor wedding venue, consider the season and potential problems. Your dream venue may be better suited for heat, wind, rain or snow. Today’s hottest decor trends may also be better suited for a particular season.

Outdoor Wedding Ideas for Spring/Summer

Curious about spring/summer decor trends? It seems right now East Coast/West Coast weddings share some similarities. Diane George says, “Outdoor weddings in gardens and vineyards have become more relaxed and less formal....the country look in decor.” She sees more wood signs, loose field flowers, benches, farm tables, and canopies with draping. Amy Ulkutekin notices more canopies too. They can be placed over guest tables, providing a light shade as well as a sheer spring/summer effect.

Other decor trends? Ulkutekin shares, “This summer, hexagon and circle arches are all the rage.” She points out that these fun shapes can be used as as backdrop for the ceremony then repurposed behind a sweetheart table or cake table. Talk about a unique photo backdrop! Ulkutekin sees terrariums shining in the decor spotlight. This makes sense as terrariums fit in with the 2018 trend of geometric details--from invites to cake design. And Ulkutekin reports the popularity of rose gold continues this summer.

Is a black-tie affair more your style? George says rooftop weddings continue to remain more formal in decor: Chiavari chairs, tighter bouquets and floral canopies. String trios are a classy musical touch.

Regardless of your style, there are outdoor wedding ideas for spring/summer every couple needs to consider: weather preparations. Both George and Ulkutekin agree that guest comfort is critical. Ulkutekin suggests sunscreen and sunglasses to beat the heat. George suggests combining comfort with style: sparkling water served in goblets or a keepsake hand fan, for example.

Outdoor Wedding Ideas for Fall/Winter

Guest comfort is typically a bigger issue for fall/winter outdoor weddings. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have one! “It’s all about your guest experience,” says Ulkutekin. “If guests are shivering because it’s cold and windy, that’s what they’ll remember and talk about.” Don’t panic though. She suggests providing pashminas, hand warmers or heat warmers.

Wind can be particularly pesky. George learned this the hard way early in her career. “I ended up chasing escort cards all through cocktail hour as they blew in different directions!” She’s now a pro when it comes to designing weather-considerate weddings. For example, instead of escort cards she recommends a sturdy seating chart that can’t blow away (but not a mirrored seating chart for a sunny day, even though it’s popular, because the glare makes it hard to read).

Both wedding planners highly recommend a “B plan.” Scorching heat, stormy wind, or drenching rain can ruin all outdoor wedding ideas. Renting a tent could save the day. But having an inside location “back-up” at your venue is best.

George shares an interesting workaround where fall/winter weather is likely an issue. She recommends choosing a venue with floor to ceiling windows overlooking a beautiful view (see photo below). This protects your wedding from the elements but gives the illusion of being outdoors.

With all of this talk about weather, are you wondering what to wear?

Outdoor Wedding Dresses

Outdoor wedding dresses can vary from casual to couture. It really depends on your personal fashion. If you would like your gown to fit your wedding style, here are a few popular silhouettes and examples to consider.

An A-line cut is almost universally flattering. It’s fitted at the waist then gradually widens out to the floor, like the shape an “A.” This silhouette can make a bride look taller and thinner. Although a mermaid gown can be sexy, it often has a playful, romantic or informal vibe. Our Moonlight Bridal T922 A-line has a bit of everything. This spaghetti strapped-wedding dress combines stretch crepe back satin with beaded details along the spaghetti straps and low illusion back for a touch of sexy romance and simple elegance. Can you imagine wearing this dress for a park, farm, beach or summer camp ceremony? We can!

Are you more of a glam or sexy bride? Do you want to “wow” your guests? Then consider rocking a mermaid silhouette. A mermaid cut is the sexiest style. This gown hugs your curves then flares out near the bottom. Moonlight Bridal H1378 is a show-stopper. This V-neckline unlined bodice wedding dress features a drop waist and a dramatic ruffled skirt. It’s a stunning choice for a formal wedding at a rooftop, garden, estate, winery, or ocean-front resort. Embrace your inner goddess in this gown.

If you’re somewhere in between informal and formal, a fit & flare could be the way to go. It’s both form-fitting and casually elegant. With sleeve details that trending right now, we love Moonlight Bridal J6812. Beaded spaghetti straps are designed with subtle beading that surprisingly form a breathtaking low scoop shape in the back. Sheer lace continues down the back and spills over the scalloped sweep train. As far as wedding dresses for an outdoor wedding go, style J6812 takes the cake.

Want to see more options? Browse our collection of casual outdoor wedding dresses or couture bridal gowns to find your dream dress today.

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