Here are a few tips to make sure your outdoor venue is a huge success:
- Have a back-up plan. While the most popular months for getting married generally have good weather, it can't be guaranteed. By the way, March is the most popular month in which to marry and Spring is the most popular season in which to marry (nearly a third of couples marry between September and November). While we had perfect weather for our own March wedding, I remember that it rained heavily and steadily for a week beforehand, so we were lucky but it can be unpredictable. Make sure you have a back-up plan in case it rains, but also have a plan in case it's too hot - in this land of extremes anything can happen! I remember conducting a wedding on a 42 degrees day at a venue with beautiful views but absolutely no shade! And if last summer taught us anything it should be to have a plan in case you have to evacuate due to bushfires, or if you and/or your guests can't get to the wedding venue for the same reason. I conducted a wedding last year where the venue was cut-off a few weeks before the wedding due to bushfires, but then just a few days out from the wedding the site was flooded - it's Australia, anything can happen! Fortunately for that couple it turned out to be a perfect day.
- Your back-up plan could include an alternative indoor venue, having a marquee available, having plenty of umbrellas (for sun or rain), or simply a venue which has both an indoor and outdoor option available.
- Following on from my weather warnings, make sure you have water available on hot days, and umbrellas for shade or rain. I recently officiated at a beautiful outdoor wedding on a day which turned out to be unexpectedly sunny. Fortunately the couple had planned for this beforehand and had hats available for all their guests (as well as for the Celebrant, which was appreciated!).
- Make sure your site is accessible. By this, I don't simply mean wheelchair accessible - if you have any elderly guests or anyone with an injury or disability even a long walk on level ground may not be easy-going. A lot of your guests will be happy to stand for the ceremony, but make sure there are seats for those who can't.
- Sydney has one of the most beautiful harbours in the world and harbour cruises are one way of providing a gorgeous backdrop to your ceremony. Just make sure you arrange with the cruise company that you will stop off back at base after the ceremony so the Celebrant can get off (unless you want to pay them for the whole time you're afloat).
But most importantly, once you've made some back-up plans don't stress about it! I've conducted weddings in the rain (the photographer said it created ideal conditions for some outstanding photos), weddings in the sun are manageable provided the ceremony is kept short, and I once attended a wedding as a guest during a downpour which washed the bride's shoe away in a torrent as she stepped out of the car. It didn't put a dampener on the day (pun intended). Make your plans, but then just enjoy the day! (you will).