An outdoor wedding – 10 top tips from a humanist celebrant

An outdoor wedding – 10 top tips from a humanist celebrant

Two hands holding rings, trees in the background. The bride's wrist is full of colourful bracelets and we can see henna on her hand.

Thinking of having an outdoor wedding?

There’s lots to think about when wedding planning, especially if you’ll be having most of the big day outside.

Whether you’re going for a beach wedding, forest wedding or something simple in the garden, there’s lots of great tips below to help you make sure nothing spoils your day. Wedding outside can be wonderful for couples who love nature and want to feel close to it as they say their vows.

Nervous about planning an outdoor wedding in the UK? We understand and have put together 10 tips to help you make it perfect. The first thing to consider is whether you will hold your whole wedding day outdoors, or just your ceremony. It might be nice to enjoy time outside in the day and have a place to go indoors when the light starts to fade, or you might want to stay out til late.

If you’re considering having your wedding outside then a humanist ceremony is the perfect choice. Humanist weddings are personal and bespoke to each couple, so you can have complete flexibility in where you hold your ceremony. It can be on top of a cliff or in a field, on a beach or in the woods.

The choice is yours, just find a humanist wedding celebrant in your area and you’re ready to go!

Humanist celebrants are also great sources of information for anyone planning a wedding. Here humanist wedding celebrant Ginny Collins shares her top ten tips for wedding outside.

An outdoor wedding ceremony – 10 top tips!

So, you’re having an outdoor wedding ceremony! What is more lovely than the UK in summer when the weather is on our side?

What spells summer more than the scent of roses and hothouse flowers in borders, the drone of bees, and page boys with grass-stained knees? A British summer’s day can be enchanting — or it can be exasperating. I’ve conducted hundreds of humanist weddings outside and have learned a lot along the way.

So, here are my top tips on how to be prepared and enjoy your outdoor wedding, whatever the weather.

Beautiful outdoor, humanist wedding ceremony. Photo by Creative Flux

1. Avoid double-booking

Most years, major summer sporting events are the nemesis of every couple planning a wedding. Do your research to avoid diary clashes. Make sure you cover football, rugby, tennis and golf,  and then avoid those dates where possible as it’s likely that your outdoor wedding could be affected by them.

2. Check for shade

Let’s be optimistic and assume you will have the sun beating down all day long for your wedding outside. While we all love sun, it can be a good idea to think about shade – particularly for any very old or very young guests. If you can supply parasols, do. Otherwise, look to your surroundings: trees, a gazebo, or even a high wall can provide shelter.

Make sure that you and your guests won’t be squinting into the sun when you make your vows during the outdoor wedding ceremony. Consider the time of the day and the position of the sun. Visiting your location on a sunny day and a rainy day is a good idea.

Cool and shady humanist wedding ceremony. Photo by Simple Tapestry

And, when it comes to the photos, avoid being plunged into deep shade or half and half — even light is best!

Perfectly lit outdoor wedding photo by Simple Tapestry

3. Weather-proof your outdoor wedding ceremony

Acknowledge that fierce wind, a downpour, or even a heatwave might happen. No matter how reliable the summer months usually are, you could get caught out. Accepting this is the first step in being prepared. Make sure you have a wet  — or windy —weather alternative for your wedding outside!

4. Simplify

From outdoor decor to your hairstyle, ask yourself if your bunting/arch/chignon would withstand a downpour or strong breeze? Then ask someone else for an honest answer and make changes or contingency plans. Simplicity can be a beautiful thing at an outdoor wedding, so take the chance to make all the organising a little easier.

Two brides celebrate outside, opening a bottle of champagne and laughing.

5. Use insect repellent

They’re the unwanted guest at every outdoor wedding: you can’t ask insects not to come, but you can make sure they don’t bother you. Taking a non-drowsy antihistamine in the morning will ease hay fever symptoms and itching from existing bites that could bug you on the day. If your ceremony or photo opportunities feature a lake or long grass, then you’ll need protection from midges, so douse yourself in repellent — there are plenty of natural and gently-scented versions on the market.

Waterside outdoor wedding ceremony. Photo by Bill Douetil

6. Day-tripping

Plan as though you and your guests are going on a day trip. Would you set off sightseeing, for a picnic, or a day at the beach without a bottle of water, sun lotion, insect repellent, a brolly, and a jacket (just in case)? The same applies for a summer wedding outdoors, so remind guests to be prepared. You can send this info in advance along with the directions, timings and dates.

7. Food and drink

If guests will be dining alfresco, you’ll need to find a caterer with experience of catering weddings outside. These days, festival-style outdoor weddings are very popular and have the catering to go with it – mobile pizza ovens, fish and chip vans, ice cream vans —  anything goes!

Doing things a little differently by getting married outside means you have a lot of flexibility in how you plan the day and that includes the food.

Creative catering. Photo by Creative Flux

8. A word about wedding shoes

No one is suggesting that you should forgo a strap, a heel, or an open toe.  But, remember that feet swell in heat, stilettos sink into the grass, and flip flops squelch in rain, so think about putting function before form (as far as your style threshold will allow). Every bride wants to look her best on her wedding day, but part of looking your best is feeling comfortable, especially if you have to walk a woodland path to your secluded location.

Here in the UK the weather can be relied on to be unpredictable, so no matter what month your outdoor wedding it’s good to have a wet weather plan.

…Wellington boots can be purchased in white, for this very reason!

Wonderful wedding wellies! Photo by Sawyer and Sawyer Photography

9. Cool evenings

At some point in the day, the sun will go down and the temperature may drop several degrees. Even at an outdoor wedding being cold is not a good look!  Luckily, with so many options for brides and grooms — from pashminas to tweeds — there is no need for goosebumps. As with almost everything else on this list, it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

An outdoor wedding needs a little more planning. Thinking through details like how to keep warm and stay stylish will mean you’re well prepared on the big day.

You might also like to think about providing blankets and wraps for your guests to borrow as the night draws in if your wedding reception is also held outside.

10. Illumination

As the light begins to fade, what’s more enchanting than fairy lights hanging from trees and candles in lanterns marking the paths? Beautiful and practical too! When you’re wedding outside there are lots of opportunities to make the setting really enchanting with lights, bringing your surroundings to life in a totally different way.

Featured celebrant

Ginny Collins is available to conduct humanist weddings in London, Surrey, West Sussex, parts of Hertfordshire, Berkshire, East Sussex, and Kent. She also conducts pre-wedding ceremony celebrations online for couples in lockdown on their planned wedding day — and when travel is once again permitted, Ginny is happy to travel abroad to conduct weddings.

Humanist wedding celebrant Ginny Collins. Photo by Douglas Roberts

Featured photographers

Creative Flux Photography

Sawyer and Sawyer Photography

Simple Tapestry

Humanist weddings

A humanist wedding is ideal for you if you’d like a non-religious wedding that is unique, personalised, and meaningful.


How do you know if you’re a humanist? Take our quiz and find out — or watch this short video where Stephen Fry explains humanism.

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'My humanist ceremony was the most special day of my life. All my family were blown away. Both my parents said that they'd never been to a wedding that was more personal or heartfelt.'
Madeleine, 34

Read our wedding blog for feature ideas, inspiration, top tips, and real-life humanist wedding stories.

If you're planning your wedding now, then contact a celebrant as early as possible.