Lots of people dream about getting married outdoors. It’s a lovely thing to do – out in the fresh air with just the sky above your heads, saying your vows to each other. But, there are practical things to consider and I’m here to help. I’ve been planning weddings outdoors since my own in Central Park on a very hot and humid day in July 2011.
- If you are in the good old USA you can do it! If you’re English, as many of my clients are, you might be surprised at this, because it is not allowed in England. It is allowed in Scotland, though. In England you may only get married under a fixed roof. Central Park has plenty of places with or without a roof where you can get married, depending on what you would prefer.
- Weather is going to happen. This is the biggie. It might be cold, or wet or windy, or as it was on my wedding day; very sunny and humid. All these things will affect your wedding ceremony and your wedding photos. You need to either plan around them, make back up plans, or just deal with it. Or possibly a mixture of all three.
- Prepare for the weather when you are choosing what to wear and how to have your hair. Don’t plan anything too elaborate that will be ruined by wind if you’re marrying somewhere high up in Autumn. Make sure you accessorize with an appropriate jacket or other outwear if you’re getting married in the colder months. Think about thermal underwear if you’re marrying outside in the winter!
- If you have guests – warn them! Explain what the likely temperature will be, and what the possibilities are for rain and so on. Suggest in the invite that they check the forecast before they come and dress appropriately. I’ve had brides tell me of upset bridesmaids who were cold at Winter weddings and who made the bride feel bad on her wedding day because of this.
- Keep things fairly informal. Everyone will be more comfortable if the dress code is relaxed – and that counts for the brides and grooms, too. When trying on your wedding attire, keep in mind the time of year you are getting married, the likelihood of getting a sit-down and how much walking you will have to do. Keep all this in min when choosing shoes, too. Consider getting some shoes for photos and some for walking, if necessary.
- If you’re marrying in Central Park, choose a location that has cover. Several locations provide good cover for a small group or at least for a couple and the officiant. If you really love a location that is out in the open, then consider making a backup plan that includes a location under cover. We can make a plan A good weather plan and location with timings etc and a plan B bad weather plan with location and so, too. Then we can watch the weather forecast until the day before the wedding and make a call on which one we go for on the day.
- Bring your furry friend! An advantage of marrying outdoors is that you can bring your pet with you to the wedding. This isn’t always possible for those travelling a long way, but we had our dog present at our wedding, and I’m so glad that we were able to do that.
- If you’re marrying in Central Park during the winter, keep it short. Don’t plan to have a long ceremony with speeches and cake and things. Just have the ceremony, pose for some stunningly beautiful photos in a stark and snowy Central Park, then get to one of the nearby bars or restaurants for warm drinks and a sit down in the warm. Bring the photographer inside with you for photos in all your finery without shivering!
- Keep the food and drinks on offer seasonal. If you are getting married outdoors, whatever the season, this will feature heavily in everyone’s memory of the event. If you get married in the winter then why not make a thing of it and have hot toddies or hot chocolate on order for the guests as they arrive in the reception location, or pumpkin-spiced drinks of you marry in the fall, or jugs of ice-cold drinks waiting if you get married in the height of summer as I did!
- You may need to bring some seats. Officially, the Central Park Conservancy do not allow seating for guests, but if you have elderly guests or other guests that can’t stand for too long then you may need to choose a location with some seating, or bring a few folding chairs for those who will need to sit. I’ve done this a few times myself when attending weddings I have planned when I was pregnant.
- The photographers I work with would never forgive me if I didn’t mention the light. If you get married later on in the afternoon during the winter then the light will fade. But, more importantly, the sun is too strong and bright in the middle of the day during high summer. Many couples want to get married in the early afternoon but my photographers always advise against it because people will be squinting in photographs and it’s very hard to get truly lovely shots while the sun is at its highest.
- The musicians I work with would have me mention that many instruments would be damaged if played in the rain, and some cannot be played in very cold temperatures. So, if you would like acoustic music at your wedding ceremony, we can discuss what would be appropriate for the time of year, and we can make plans to be sure that the musician is kept under cover in case of rain.
- The videographers I work with would also point out that there will be background noise if you choose to have a video made of your wedding ceremony. It all depends on what location you choose for the wedding, but some of the popular wedding spots are quite close to the roads so you may well hear traffic in the background, or wind.
If this all seems like a lot to remember, I cannot stress enough how getting married in Central Park is totally worth it. There’s nowhere like it on earth. Central Park has so much stunningly beautiful scenery, juxtaposed with those iconic New York skyscrapers behind it. You just can’t get that anywhere else. I make so many backup plans and spend so much time with couples worry about the weather and we so rarely have to make alternative arrangements for rain. Although, it does happen sometimes, so it’s something that we have to plan for to keep everyone’s mind at rest – that’s my goal – for the couples to feel confident in the run-up to the wedding that they will have a lovely day, so we have to plan for everything!
If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, whatever the weather or the time of year, visit our website, or follow us on Pinterest where we pin a *lot*, “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram for lovely photos of happy couples.