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Come rain or shine

From pristine beaches to the bush, we have some of the world’s most beautiful wedding destinations on our doorstep. But there’s so much more to planning an outdoor celebration than hoping for the best; you have to prepare for the worst.


STEP 2

HAVE A PLAN B


Check that your venue has an indoor alternative and how it will effect your budget to have both good and bad weather options available on the day.

Ask about two-in-one packages; and include a canopy or tent for the ceremony in your budget. If you have your heart set on a venue that has no indoors, put a deposit down on a marquee that’s strong enough to handle wind and rain (beware of dodgy bargains!).

Download a reliable weather app so you can monitor the weather closely, but if you wake up and it’s drizzling, don’t wait until your guests start arriving to implement plan B. be decisive and trust your wedding planner to make the right decision by a certain time and that plan B actually works and can accommodate all your guests, for example.


STEP 3

KEEP YOUR GUESTS HAPPY


Your guests ate the people you’ve chosen to celebrate this momentous occasion with and they must be well looked after throughout the day.

Lack of seating is a common mistake, usually at casual or cocktail party weddings. Ensure there’s more than enough seating at the ceremony and reception, and inform guests beforehand if you think they’ll be more comfortable in flat shoes than heels.

Shade is essential. Do a site check with your photographer at the same time your ceremony will take place to see where the sun lies. You don’t want guests squinting or your first photos as husband and wife to be unflattering because of harsh light. Ask your photographer to suggest alternative locations in case of inclement weather.

If you are planning an outdoor summer wedding, give your guests bottled water, parasols or fans, hats and sunscreen when they arrive. If there’s a hint of rain, keep a stash of umbrellas nearby. Our spring and autumn days can be mild, but temperatures plummet at night, so ensure heaters are set up inside the marquee or venue. Warn guests to bring warm jackets if you think it’s going to be cold and put out blankets or pashminas for them. Coffee and whisky stations warm guests up: cocktail and juice bars cool them down.

A beautiful view is one thing, but expecting your grandmother to climb hundreds of steps to get there, is another. Work on the flow from point A (ceremony) to point B (reception) and choose an easy route that doesn’t go past the venue’s bathrooms and kitchens. Hire transport for guests if the distance is too far, use pretty signs and lanterns to light up the paths.


Think about yourself too: can you walk down the aisle in your (preferably) heel-protected shoes or do you need a carpet on the grass?


STEP 4

AVOID POWER STRUGGLES


Relying on a borrowed portable music system at any outdoor occasion is waaay too risky!! Hire a reputable band or DJ with a top-notch sound system (cut back on your budget elsewhere if you need to).

Get your wedding planner or DJ to check the acoustics so everyone will be able to hear you. Crashing waves will drown out ceremony music and mics; so will the noisy tractor in the next-door vineyard.

Hire a generator in case there’s a power outage of if there’s no electricity at your venue. Your caterer will need one for a prep tent or mobile kitchen too.

Then there’s the issue of lighting: are there enough lanterns to light up the way to the bathrooms once the sun has set?


STEP 5

COMBAT CREEPY-CRAWLIES


Insects are part and parcel of outdoor weddings, so a swarm of flying ants has the potential to ruin your day, get married in the cooler months when there will be less of them (or compromise with an outdoor ceremony followed by an indoor reception).

Ask your wedding coordinator for suggestions on how to combat the creepy-crawlies or chat to someone who knows the venue as the area may well have been sprayed with insecticide.

If you know there are going to be bugs about, try and limit them: give your guests insect repellents; line walkways with citronella candles and lanterns, and dot them around the reception (not on the tables as the smell tends to bother people). If you have electricity, put mosquito machines into all the closest plug points, install air-con in the kitchen area and keep doors open for air flow.

Ask your florist to incorporate natural pesticides such as lavender, mint, rosemary and thyme into your flower arrangements and bouquets. Or use potted herbs at each place setting and double them up as favours.

It’s advisable not to have a wedding in a malaria area (even a low-risk one). However, if your heart is set on it, you must suggest your guests take the necessary precautions.

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