Money Matters Team

Planning an Outdoor Wedding

By Money Matters Team 14/08/2020

Planning an outdoor wedding?

Firstly, congratulations on your engagement!

You may have started planning your big day or still be in the early stages of considering what type of wedding you’d like.

Our outdoor wedding guide offers a useful starting point if you’re considering getting married alfresco. Get inspiration and ideas for your special day, as well as practical tips to make everything run smoothly.

Let’s get your planning underway.

Is an outdoor wedding for you?

Outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions offer amazing opportunities for making your big day unique. Being less restricted by space gives you the chance to be even more creative. Having a blank canvas may mean you need to consider hiring things for the day. This could include crockery and cutlery, if your venue is unable to provide these for you.

Whether your wedding budget is large or small, there are a number of ways to finance your big day including a loan. If you are considering this option you may find our Loans Calculator useful.

How to plan an outdoor wedding

Saying ‘I do’ outdoors sounds simple but inviting the British elements to your big day can add some curveballs. We’ve created a simple checklist for making the planning of an outdoor wedding as simple as possible.

Your outdoor wedding ceremony

If you’re getting married in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can get married anywhere if the ceremony is conducted by a religious official, registrar or non-religious humanist celebrant.

In England and Wales, an outdoor wedding ceremony must be held in a permanent structure, large enough to accommodate two people. Wedding guests can enjoy your ceremony from out with this structure though.

You can find out more about the legalities of outdoor weddings at

Your outdoor wedding venue and reception

Finding your dream location isn’t just about the aesthetic. Think about wet weather options to make sure your day goes without a hitch. It’s also worth considering what facilities the venue offers and if they suit the age range of your guests.

The types of packages and the amount of freedom available to make your day unique are important. Ask your venue what’s included, as they may offer a marquee or other outdoor essentials as part of this.

Understanding how the flow of your day will work is important. Will the ceremony take place in a separate location from the reception? Or will a turnaround service be required after you say your vows? If so, how will you keep your guests entertained during this time?

Outdoor wedding food ideas

The food you’d like to serve to your guests will depend on the venue you choose. You might want a sophisticated BBQ, a quirky ice cream stand, a donut wall, or even an American-themed candy buffet.

Find out if your venue can provide these for you or if they have recommended suppliers. Alternatively they might be happy for you to hire in food stations for your celebrations.

If you are managing the catering yourself, it’s worth considering how you’ll get the food to the venue. How you’ll keep it fresh and who will serve it also need to be considered.

Self-catering bars are popular at outdoor weddings. Think about hiring bar staff to manage this for you if the venue can’t.

Outdoor wedding decorations

Dial up the romance with lighting and décor, for that idyllic rustic outdoor wedding feel. Add citronella candles for a cosy vibe, whilst keeping the insects at bay. Fairy lights and string lighting can be an inexpensive way to bring a warm Instagrammable vibe with minimal set up. Paperweights can also add a unique design element to your big day but more importantly, help keep your table setting in place.

Outdoor wedding games hire

Why not add a sense of fun to your big day and hire giant Jenga, Connect Four or an oversized deck chair to get your guests talking? An outdoor photobooth can also add lots of fun to a wedding and provide great keepsakes.

Your outdoor wedding guests

If your guests are going to be outdoors all day, there are a few little touches to keep your family and friends comfortable and in good spirits. Giving them advance warning that they’re going to be outdoors all day means your wedding guests can choose the right clothing and footwear.

Having blankets, umbrellas or programmes that fold into fans will keep your friends and family happy whatever the weather. You can provide water and soft drink stations at your venue, especially on warmer days.

Changeable weather

Although we all dream of bright summer sunshine, it doesn’t always shine through in the UK. The outfits and hairstyles you choose might have to embrace the elements.

Using heavier fabrics for bridesmaids’ dresses and weather-ready hairstyles will help keep your bridal party looking lovely all day. Having friends or family on-hand to help touch up make-up or tidy up your hair for pictures is advisable.

Travel options

Whether you’re getting married outdoors on an island or opting for an open-air barn wedding in the country, you’ll need to think about travel. Researching the accommodation and travel options for your guests will help ensure everyone you love can RSVP yes.


Photos of your special day will last a lifetime, so you want someone who is used to taking photos in different lighting and more importantly, outdoors. Have a look at a few photography portfolios and choose someone that will be able to work with your venue as well as your style. Most photographers also offer a pre-wedding couple’s shoot before the big day, which will allow you to see their work and can help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

Planning an outdoor wedding on a budget

Getting married outdoors in the UK can be cost-saving, as the venues tend to be more budget-friendly. If you’d love a rustic themed wedding, there are many things you can do yourself, such as creating your own unique centerpieces and foraging for wedding flowers. Hiring elements for your day may also be required, such as glassware, seats or seat covers.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.