Top Tips for Planning an Outdoor Wedding - Guest Blog Nikki from Fiesta Fields
Updated: Apr 6, 2018
Hello, I'm Nikki Ford, founder of Fiesta Fields. An outdoor wedding and events company based in Surrey.
There are many things to consider when planning an outdoor wedding, but don't let this put you off.
Check out my tips to help you organise your special day.
First things first...
When you start visiting fields, always consider the following;
Is there good access, for cars and larger set up vehicles;
Is there a nice flat area for your marquee;
Is there a parking area away from your marquee (cars don’t look good in photos)
Ask how the land will be prepared (does it need rolling, will it be mowed?);
How many events will they host in one year?
Some outdoor venues (not Fiesta Fields) charge commissions to your suppliers, so worth finding this out upfront.
Don’t forget to ask about any rules of the venue, including amplified music curfews and
finish time and whether things like fireworks, firepits and animals are allowed.
Invest in wedding insurance! John Lewis offer a good policy.
This is a bit of a no brainer, as in most cases the cost of the insurance will equate to the damage waiver on your tipi or marquee, plus you will have a host of other aspects insured as well.
Just check in advance that your tipi/marquee supplier will remove the fee on receipt of your policy information.
One of the big benefits of an outdoor wedding is no corkage or inflated drinks prices.
You have two options with licensing laws. Either hire a mobile bar or buy your own and supply free drinks. For the latter there are a few things to consider, such as disposables or glass hire? (some venues will have a preference).
Will you keep drinks in hired fridges, troughs of ice, or something more creative like an old claw foot bath?
It might be wise to consider hiring a couple of hospitality staff to serve, rotate drinks in the chillers and collect up empties.
Always try and buy your alcohol on sale or return (booze cruise as an exception). It can be hard to gauge how much you will need and always best to overbuy, rather than under.
The morning after the night before
Don’t underestimate the clear up the next day.
Collecting empties and a trip to the bottle bank is a bump down to earth after your magical day. If you can, nominate very good friends and family, and try and give it a miss.
Make sure you and your caterer/bar are clear on what they are responsible for clearing, and if they’re taking their rubbish with them.
If you go for glass hire, check how they want them returned, or you could find yourself rinsing 500 odd glasses as well!!
Rain or Shine
The good old British weather is a fickle thing and can play havoc with your stress levels in the
run up to your day.
Try not to watch the weather forecast too far in advance. It won’t be accurate and is an unnecessary emotional rollercoaster.
Make sure you have a wet and dry weather plan, eg, ideal plan is, welcome drinks outside, back up plan is, on your dance floor.
Consider a small separate undercover area for an outdoor ceremony, even if you reserve
it, but don’t put it up in the end.
You never know you could end up with a scorcher and need it for shade.
Most suppliers will have a ‘mini’ version that’s in keeping with your main tent.
In the grand scheme this will be a small cost, but you will feel better knowing any weather
combination is catered for. If you are unlucky and do have rain, embrace it! Have some funky
umbrellas and wellies in back up (you can always return them if you don’t need them) and
have a look online at some fab quirky wet weather photography and discuss with your
It’s important to say that none of our couples who had rain on their wedding
day felt it spoiled things in any way. Yes, sunshine is the cherry on the cake, but it’s people that matter, not the weather.
If you and your guests are glamping/camping, think about a little overnight pack to leave in their tents. A bottle of water, alka seltzer and maybe a little breakfast snack.
Little torches would make great favours.
It’s a good idea to hire in a plastic portable loo as well, that way you can turn your
generator off when you call it a night.
While on the subject of loos, a little basket of essentials always goes down well; sun tan lotion, antihistamines, plasters, mints, after sun, tampons, body spray & make-up remover.
You could continue the celebration the following morning with a catered
breakfast. Hire a Coffee truck or provide a BBQ. Arrange a delivery of bacon and rolls and then your guests can prepare their own bacon butties.
And while everyone is eating, they could always help tidy a little….
What’s the plan?
Draw a plan of how you would like to set up your space, both in your party tent and the
outdoor space as whole.
Check with all suppliers on their electricity requirements and pass this info to your generator supplier to ensure they supply the right size generator. They will also
need your site plan, to work out where they should lay distribution leads and sockets.
Think about your optimum layout in your marquee/tipi. It’s a nice idea to provide a chill out area away from the dance floor. Arrange hay bales, deck chairs or picnic blankets outside to maximise your space.
Tables near the dance floor can be packed away to give you more room, especially if you have additional evening guests arriving.
See the Light
Think in advance about your lighting.
Marquee and tipi suppliers will be able to advise you on lighting.
You could use fairy lights, uplighters or festoons.
Make sure you have dimmable options for when the party gets going.
You could always add in a mix of bamboo torches, candles, lanterns and firepits.
Take a look around and see if there are any trees or natural features you can light.
You will be surprised at how much light your marquee will throw on your outdoor space, but make sure you light the way to your venue exit or the camping area.
Our favourite cost effective solutions are Kilner jars filled with small strings of battery powered fairy lights or battery powered candles in laser cut paper bags (remember to put sand in them to weigh them down).
In terms of natural lighting, your photographer will be keen to take advantage of any stunning natural lighting that may happen throughout the day, so it’s best to allow a few shorter slots for photos, rather than doing them all in one go and be as flexible as you can. Bear in mind that when the sun is high in the sky, it’s at it’s harshest. The most beautiful photography I think always comes at magic hour, softer diffused lighting, beautiful skies and a more relaxed couple.
On the day
No matter how organised you are, there will always be jobs to be done on the day; meeting
suppliers as they arrive and letting them know where to set up; turning on the generator;
meeting guests and letting them know where to park and set up camp; lifting/lowering sides of marquee; lighting candles, torches and fire pits and generally keeping the day on track. So either arm someone, or a few people with specific tasks, or consider hiring an on the day
coordinator to take care of all this, leaving you and your friends and family to just enjoy the
Better safe than sorry
If your location is in a remote area or on public land, you should consider security services to
keep an eye on things. In some locations your tipi or marquee supplier may ask that the
structure is not left unattended.
At our venues we always recommend overnight ‘babysitting’ of the marquee the night before the wedding, to ensure all is as it should be on the big day.
For all the effort that has gone into your wedding, it's worth spending that extra couple of hundred pounds for someone to look after it. If you’re on a really tight budget, you could ask a couple of good friends to camp overnight in the field for you.
This may all sound like a lot to think of. There is no denying that an outdoor wedding will take a bit more effort, but you will be rewarded with a unique day that is totally your style.
We love looking back at all our Fiesta Fields weddings. Every couple brought their own vibe to their day.
A quick look at our gallery, will show you the variety.
About the author:
Nikki Ford is the founder of Fiesta Fields. An outdoor weddings and events company based in Surrey. Established three year ago, they represent a variety of idyllic spaces across Surrey
Land hire only is available, but a friendly team is also on hand to provide
coordination from the basics of generator, loos and security, to more involved bespoke
packages including catering, marquee and bar.
Fiesta Fields also offer on the day coordination.
Whatever option you go for, you can benefit from their wealth of experience.
A massive Thank You to Nikki for Guest writing for us.