How to Decide If an Indoor or Outdoor Wedding Is Right for You

By Harriette Rose Katz

Determine if an alfresco ceremony or a ballroom reception is the best option for your special day.

When a bride and groom begin to plan their wedding, one of the things they must consider is if they want the event to take place indoors or outdoors. For some couples, the fresh air and natural beauty of a romantic outdoor setting like the beach or the countryside is ideal, and for others, the comfort and adaptability of an indoor location is preferable. Both can be done beautifully, but the outdoor route certainly comes with more risk and an elevated amount of stress.

Outdoor Weddings
Many brides have the vision of being married under the sky, be it a cloudless day or a starry night, but any outdoor wedding is at a bride’s mercy and couples have to protect their event and their guests accordingly. It is important to be prepared for weather that is less than ideal.

When hosting any part of a wedding celebration outdoors, be it the ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception, it is crucial that there be a tent. First and foremost, a tent provides protection, even in the best of conditions. On the most gorgeous sunny day, a tent is still necessary to keep the guests from overheating, the flowers from wilting, and the food from sitting out too long in the sun and going bad.

Furthermore, the use of a tent assures a maximum comfort level for your guests, which is extremely important when inviting people to celebrate outdoors. A tent can be both heated or air conditioned, so that no matter what the outdoor temperature, everyone will remain comfortable inside. It is also key to note that there must be a floor brought in and placed on the ground to create a flat and sturdy surface for guests to walk upon. This will prevent the dreaded sinking of heels in grass, which any woman will attest is no fun for them or their shoes. Keep in mind that this definitely adds a large cost, which should be taken into consideration when planning a spending limit.

As for the aesthetics, a tent can remain open on the sides allowing for the natural setting to serve as a scenic backdrop and for air flow, while a closed tent can be tastefully embellished to produce a beautiful atmosphere. For instance, a custom-made flower wall placed behind the clergy during the ceremony creates a whimsical effect that ties into the outdoor feel.

With all of that said, when something as unpredictable as the weather plays a factor on such an important day, it is crucial that there be a back-up plan. In most circumstances a tent will suffice, even in the case of rain or light snow. However, it is not unheard of that severe weather such as a hurricane, major snowstorm, or even a tornado should rear its head on your big day. An unexpected weather event of this magnitude would force a last-minute location change, and it is important that couples are both physically and mentally prepared for this worst case-scenario. With all outdoor nuptials that I plan, I consult with my clients well in advance about the slim possibility of needing to resort to a back-up venue and then work with them to plan how they would want this venue to look. It is my job to make sure that despite what we can’t control, the outcome still meets the clients’ expectations and makes them happy.

Indoor Weddings
An indoor wedding, of course, eliminates any chance of weather interfering with the original planning (except in the most extreme of instances!) and is generally more comfortable as well. The beauty of planning an indoor celebration is that the client can transform the space in any way that they like; they can even make it look and feel like the outside. Any venue can lend itself to the couple’s envisioned theme if conceived creatively and executed properly. Imagine transforming a hotel ballroom into a lavish garden with lush flower centerpieces and accents of elegant trees, plants, and stones! The possibilities are boundless and it’s all in the details. Celebrating indoors is the safer way to go and, ultimately, more cost effective.

Both an indoor and outdoor wedding can be beautiful and the decision ultimately comes down to the style and desires of the bride and groom. Your wedding should come but once in a lifetime. Rather than stressing over the weather, let it be a day filled with happiness and pure joy.