(Tracy+David in South Haven, JK Photography)

Outdoor weddings and events can be absolutely wonderful. The natural light, beautiful surroundings and open air can draw a lot of people to want to host an outdoor affair. However, you don’t want to set up your ceremony or throw up a tent just anywhere! Give yourself some piece of mind by considering some important factors before choosing your ideal outdoor wedding location.

Are there any policies, ordinances or restrictions?
For example, some public beaches will not allow chairs brought in and will request all guests stand. Also, if you’re renting a public park or beach area, you’ll want to check on any restrictions with serving alcohol if you’re hosting an outdoor reception.

How public is the area?
I plan a lot of beach weddings, and in our area you can throw a stone and hit 12 beautiful beaches. When you’re looking at locations, consider how busy it will be, at the time of year you’ll be tying the knot. Will you be able to secure a private area? If you’re on a public beach, ask a designated friend or family member to watch your area during the ceremony to avoid bikini-clad onlookers from wandering into ceremony pictures. If you’ve hired a coordinator, they can also assist with this. People can be surprisingly cooperative when they’re asked not to disturb a wedding!

Is there ample parking available?
This is one area where unexpected costs can arise. When budgeting, take into consideration the cost for shuttle service to get guests to rhe location, or for many public beaches, the cost of admission/parking. This can add up to as much as $9 per car in our area, but can often be paid for ahead of time if the proper arrangements are made.

Is it easily accessible to handicap or older guests?
Secluded beaches or outdoor areas can be beautiful, but make sure to consider accessibility. Do you have older guests who will not be able to walk the distance? Is it handicap accessible?

Is there an option for inclimate weather?
If you’re tying the knot outdoors, look for areas that may also provide for shelter in the case of inclimate weather. Certain beaches will offer a covered pavilion, or areas where you could set up a tent. While I always like to stay positive, it’s best to be prepared—-always have a back up!

Now go out there and find your perfect outdoor location! There are a lot of hidden gems out there, that you’ll never find browsing from your computer so hop in the car and explore your local area—you’ll be surprised at all of the unique and beautiful areas you’ll find!