valley & co. tips :: choosing an outdoor wedding venue

Outdoor weddings are some of our favorites, and some of our specialties! We’ve produced countless weddings and parties in a field with no water or electricity – bringing in restrooms and plumbing, kitchens, and tents with flooring. That’s part of the fun and the challenge that we love; creating something gorgeous and perfect for our couples and clients out of nothing. Of course not all outdoor weddings events are created out of thin air. Some of ours take place on sprawling estates or in cozy back yards, in parks or on the beach, or set in sprawling vineyards or with spaces that are equipped for parking, catering needs, and backup plans.

When we get started working with our clients on their outdoor weddings, we have a short list of items to chat through to ensure it’s feasible. We’re sharing a few of those pro tips and questions today as you embark on your plans:

1. Think creatively, yet realistically: before we talk logistics and the reality of a venue, we daydream. It’s what we do! Understanding what we’d like to see done with a space in a creative mindset helps get us excited and to think uniquely about a space in a way that will be totally special and never done before for our clients. After a little brainstorming session we then follow up with a realistic conversation about what’s feasible or not to keep the ideals grounded.

2. Space matters. Walk the available spaces of a property that can house cocktail hour, dinner, and a ceremony, as well as staging for your team – catering, floral design, rental crate storage, and any other “green room” necessities. Ensuring that there is sufficient space is important to the set up and success from a logistics standpoint. Where are the restrooms? Is the property on septic? For more of our outdoor events than not we rent high-end restrooms that come with running water, electricity, and air conditioning and stock them with fresh flowers and amenities to help guests feel well taken care of.

3. Look for resources. Check out what’s already on property – is there a shell of a space for catering or will they need to bring in generator, ovens, and scullery, a catering tent, and other items (common with what we create)? Is there piping and water or sewer in the ground where a tent might go? It’s always best to have those lines drawn out either by a city or county or a landscaper who is familiar with the property. Will the venue require any permitting? Some outdoor properties will need noise ordinances for having music or a permit for having cooking or fire pits.

4. Are you looking for a truly blank canvas or a polished space? Outdoor venues can have it all, or nothing. Consider what’s on property that will aid in your plans and designs – trees are excellent for shade during summertime weddings but can also prohibit tenting if they cover a space too tightly. Are the gardens bare and new or established and bursting with garden roses and greenery perfect for your vision?

5. Is there a Plan B? We always ask this question, especially for private residence or outdoor events. What happens if it’s abnormally windy or if the waves pick up or it downpours in the middle of July? Will there be a place to usher guests or to set up a back-up space (such as a tent) with a day’s notice? How close is the space/venue in proximity to necessities for guests like lodging or any stores?

A few other all-important logistics to consider: is there parking on site or can it be created? Is there any electricity? If not, you’ll need to bring in several whisper-quiet generators for tent lighting/heating, music, catering needs, restrooms, etc. Same goes for lighting – towering trees can look gorgeous and provide light when strung with globe lights or up-lit with big washes of illumination.

Looking at an outdoor space for your wedding or party can be so enjoyable and will allow for a high level of creativity – you just have to ask the right questions to ensure it will be a great fit!

Photos by O’Malley Photographers for Valley & Company Events