If you are an outdoor loving adventurous couple, planning a traditional wedding probably doesn’t appeal to you. Cooped up indoors, on what should be one of the happiest days of your life, sounds stifling. Formal gardens and country clubs are too fussy for your tastes. The untamed wild is where you feel at home, not fine china, formal seating, and manicured lawns. So how exactly do you plan a wedding that still feels like a wedding but fits you?
Elope…if your friends and family will forgive you.
This is what we wanted to do but we knew our family would never forgive us, especially our girls who had their hearts set on being flower girls. However, if your family will be more understanding what could be better than hiking to your most beautiful hiking local and getting married right there, just you, the minister, and nature’s beauty. You will need to find a fit minister capable of making the jorney. If that proves difficult have a hiking friend get ordained on the internet. It only takes a few minutes and a nominal fee. After the ceremony the minister can hike back out and you are already in your honeymoon local. Throw a party to celebrate with family and friends when you get back and passify any ruffled feathers.
The More Traditional Route
If your family will just feel hurt forever if they don’t get to witness you actually getting married you will have to go the more traditional route. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a wedding that still fits you.
Location, Location, Location!
Location is the most important choice for planning a wedding that will fit your nature loving personalities. So what are your options? Think free first.
Do you have friends or family members who have a cabin in the woods or a house tucked away on some acreage? If so, beg, plead, or bribe them into letting you use it to host your wedding. This is your best option because you will have plenty of time to set up. We were fortunate in that Patrick’s mother has a home tucked away in the woods. In exchange for some help around the property, spiffing things up proceeding the wedding, she generously let us use her home. The green trees and natural surroundings made us feel as comfortable as we feel when off in the woods. Having access to a house for getting ready, heating food, and using bathrooms was very helpful.
AirBnB, Home Away, Etc
If you don’t have a friend or relative who has some property you can use you can always rent one. Sites like AirBnB and Home Away among others, often have homes and cabins for rent in beautiful locales. You do need to check with the owner to be sure they are okay with you hosting an event there. If you can find a house you like, you can rent it as early so again, you have plenty of time to set up, and clean up after. You also will have access to kitchens and bathrooms.
State Parks and other Natural Areas
Many state parks and natural areas have group sites. Some of these are little more than lawns and ugly bathrooms, other’s are gorgeous tucked away gems, keep looking until you find the gems. Sometimes the group area isn’t that great but there are beautful spots a short walk from a parking area. In those cases, you can hold the ceremony at the picturesque spot as the sun goes down. Then under the cover of darkness with just solar lights and tiki torches the group site may look a whole lot more inviting.
There’s more challenges to this kind of locale, you may not have access to bathrooms, or kitchens, or a place to dress and get ready. With a little creativity you can overcome these obstacles. Bathroom trailers can be rented. There are many portable caterers such as food trucks and barbecue smokers, or you can do a giant campfire cookout with traditional camp fair. Just be aware that many state parks do not allow alcohol. A small travel trailer can work for getting ready and hiding the bride until the big moment. A bonus to a trailer is it can serve as a nice upgrade from a tent for your wedding night.
If your actual ceremony is short you really don’t need seats for your guest for the ceremony. Afterall, if you can stand for the whole ceremony your guests should be able to manage as well. For the reception we rented tables since we knew our guests would be dressed up a little. Renting them from a mom and pop business meant we got a better price and more flexible rental times. If your wedding is truly informal then your seating options expand quite a bit. Seating can be as simple as pretty thrift store quilts and blankets spread on the ground. Hay bales are another popular choice and can be laid on their ends to double as tables. Logs also make great seats. Cutting logs a little longer and laying a plank across two makes a simple table. If you have a chainsaw, logs can often be gotten for free after a storm from Craigslist.
Simple food for a simple wedding. We had access to a kitchen for our wedding so we premade a bunch of mexican toppings for burritos and carnitas. We bought chaffing dishes to keep everything warm after heating in the oven. There are many easy dishes that can be either made or bought ahead and just require being popped in the oven to be ready to serve to your guests.
For more primitive locations you can get as fancy or as simple as you want depending on your budget. Food trucks while expensive can cook up delicious foods just about anywhere. Mobile barbeque smokers either staffed or rented can be a great option. Or go completely simple and do a campfire cookout, giving guest skewers and different options to roast over a campfire. Great options are different gourmet sausages, fruits like pineapples and peaches, and vegetables. And no outdoor wedding would be complete without smores for everyone.
The great thing about an outdoor wedding is you are already in beautiful surroundings so not much needs to be done to make things look great. One thing to keep in mind is lighting if your wedding is in the evening. Nice campfires provide some light and are perfect gathering places. We fortunately live in an age of cheap led lights that need very little power to run for hours. Stringing up some led christmas lights with either built in batteries or plugged into a power bank will look beautiful and light up your reception. Simple bulk flowers supplemented with cuttings from your own yard can add splashes of color and cost very little.
However you plan your wedding, just remember that things don’t have to be perfect. If you end up married to the love of your life than you’re wedding was a success. Don’t stress over the small stuff and enjoy yourself!