Frequently Asked Questions

Mistakes to avoid when planning an outdoor wedding

Outdoor-Weddings

Having an outdoor wedding can be a beautiful experience. I have personally worked at tons of them and know that there is nothing quite like the charm and simple elegance of an outdoor wedding. The gentle breeze, the smell of blooming flowers, and the ambience of a fresh meadow or trickling stream can help to create a storybook fantasy wedding. In fact, my tent wedding was on my brothers farm and the weather was perfect! However, there are some dangerous aspects of planning such an event that you must be prepared for or face dire consequences!

A sad tale...

Let’s begin with a little tale oh so many years ago. Early in my career I was contracted by an entertainment agent to perform at a wedding at a place that shall remain nameless. I was not informed by the agent that the reception was an out door event. My first clue that this event was not properly thought out was the band set up. There was a large tent for the guests to eat and dance but the event coordinator thought it would be a grand idea to put the band on a flatbed truck outside the tent! This set up completely cut the band off from the guests and proved to be a disaster waiting to happen.

It was hot that day. I mean really hot! My poor wife/lead singer was 7 months pregnant and not happy about the prospect of singing outside with the temperature north of 90 degrees. We set up our equipment on the flatbed in the heat of an August afternoon while my spouse sat in my air-conditioned truck. We started playing at 7:00 and aside from the sticky atmosphere, everything was going well… until the sun went down!

Even though the main tent was lighted, no one thought about the band (they never do:~) and as the sun began to set, the band stand became dark. To make matters worse proper attention to the electrical supply was not thought out and as the tent lights strained the electrical supply, the entire event lost power. Imagine what it was like on a hot muggy evening in the middle of a field with no lights at all! People were tripping on tent stakes and lead wires, and mass confusion ensued. It took the caterer over 2 hours to find a generator and by the time they got everything up and running the party was over. I felt so bad for the bride and groom but there was nothing that I could have done.

Lesson learned...

So what lesson have we learned? If you are planning an outdoor event have a licensed electrician evaluate the space and make a recommendation. The entertainment should have at least 2 separate dedicated 120Volt circuits with no coffee machines or any external devices included on the grid. Some bands require more power or a direct tap into the main power box. Check with the bandleader or DJ, caterer, and tent lighting provider about power requirements to avoid a disaster!

The caterer will need ample electrical power to run the stoves, coffee machines and other equipment. Be sure to check with them about requirements.

Speaking of heat, if you are having your wedding during a hot time of year you might want to consider air conditioners. We recently played a tent wedding at Royce Brook Country Club and their tent had sides and air conditioning. It was heavenly!

Make sure the band or DJ is set up on a riser. If it rains, and it might, the riser will keep the electronic equipment dry. If you set up on grass, the evening dew is usually enough to cause problems with electronics. It’s also a good idea to have sides for the tent in the event of rain. You may not have to use them but better safe than sorry.

Restrooms are another consideration. There are some very nice Porta-Johns on the market today that will do a great job and look elegant. Don’t skimp on cheapo Porta- Johns. Your guests will appreciate a comfortable rest room.

Make sure that the path to the rest room and to the parking facility is lighted as well. You might want to consider candles for this as it can add a nice ambiance, however there is that pesky rain factor to consider. If the facility you are using does not provide valet service you might want to contemplate providing this service as a consideration for your older guests.

Consider hiring an event coordinator to make sure that all the vendors are on the same page. Unless you are having a very casual event, it might be a wise move.

Even in questionable weather, having an outdoor wedding can be a wonderful experience a long as you are prepared for the worst. Say your prayers and hope for the best. I am confident that your day will be exquisite! Mine was.

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