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Outdoor weddings: the good, the bad and the bugs

A little over ten years ago, we were saying our vows beside a charming quiet lake.  Our friends and family were all present along with one other guest.  Unfortunately, this guest was uninvited and brought along a few thousand friends — MOSQUITOES!!!

We planned and prepared the details months before to ensure everything went well, but overlooked one item.  It warmed up quite a bit that week (first week of June) and the mosquito eggs must have recently hatched unleashing a swarm of hungry guests — I’m sure you can picture the rest ;-).

Looking back, besides a few bites and annoyance, everything turned out well.  The actual reception was indoors, overlooking the lake, and the bugs were soon forgotten. We still have great  memories of our wedding and quite a few laughs when our friends bring up stories of our “buggy” wedding.  However, the bugs definitely impacted our ceremony pictures and video (lots of  swatting and hand waving throughout).  I also felt bad for our brave string quartet that kept playing throughout the ceremony.  Maybe we should have given out personalized bug repellent as a favor :-).

Planning for an outdoor wedding ceremony and reception:

We have an information page with some things to consider when planning an outdoor wedding reception, but here is a quick list from my own experience:

  • Price and availability: Due to the weather (in most geographic areas), you will likely be limited to the peak wedding season.  Book early and expect a higher price per person.
  • Have an indoor backup: Try to find a venue with venue with suitable in-door space (and be sure it is available on the day of your reception) in case of inclement weather.  Rain, wind or bugs can be a major issue and having a backup option is great.
  • Ask about seasonal bugs, animals and birds around your planned date: We never thought to ask about mosquitoes, but we should have.  It’s also possible that certain seasonal birds, squirrels or other animals might be more prevalent at different times of the year.
  • Visit the venue, at least once, on the same day of the week and time of your ceremony/reception (if possible).  We visited our venue a few months before and moved on to other wedding items.  If we had visited the week before (at dusk), we would have likely noticed the bugs.  Visiting on the same day of the week is also a good idea, since you might notice potential ambient noise due to traffic patterns, etc.

I’m sure there are  things we left out, so feel free to share your outdoor wedding planning tips as well.  Also review some outdoor wedding and reception venues for ideas.