10 Things you need to know before planning the outdoor wedding of your dreams

Pull off the most incredible outdoor wedding, without any of the headaches.

So you’re considering having an outdoor wedding? Congratulations!! Outdoor weddings are incredible for so many reasons, here’s why we love them:

  • Hosting a wedding in an outdoor space provides a blank canvas which allows you complete flexibility to get creative with your space.
  • You’re able to incorporate nature into every aspect of your special day.
  • There are no catering restrictions, you have the option of food trucks, burger vans, BBQs, caravan bars, fairy floss carts, cocktail stations, and espresso martini bars. The list is endless!
  • You can have a weekend-long Wedfest! Perfect if you want to extend the celebrations!
  • You could hire glamping accommodation so your guests could stay onsite. No need to worry about taxis and guest logistics!
  • You can get married completely off the grid.
  • Getting married on your own property or a family member takes away all the restrictions that come with traditional venues (such as the 11 pm curfew!)
  • You get to Invite your furry friend!

We know that it can feel daunting building a wedding from the ground up, but here at Twilight Glamping we have hundreds of weddings under our belt, so we know exactly what it takes to ensure your outdoor wedding is a HUGE success, creating memories last a lifetime!

We also know the pitfalls and mistakes that end up costing couples a fortune and we want to help you avoid them.

Here are our top tips and things to bear in mind to ensure your outdoor wedding is what you’ve always dreamed of:

1. Budget

When it comes to budget, our advice is to sit down with your partner over dinner and discuss what’s most important to you. Spend your money on these things and then budget on the other things that are less important to you. Here are a few unexpected costs that every savvy couple needs to be aware of:

  • Some vendors charge delivery and/or set-up costs in addition to their services, always double-check what these are.
  • Some rental vendors charge a mandatory damage waiver fee – check with them.
    Some vendors will charge for last-minute changes/alterations so always ask upfront what these are.
  • You may need to consider the cost of providing meals for some vendors such as photographers or your wedding coordinator.
  • Some venues charge an overtime fee if your wedding or the clean-up runs over schedule.
  • Don’t forget about the underrated elements of your wedding, such as generators, sound, lighting, air conditioning, skips and waste bins. They can all add pretty quickly so make sure you’ve factored these things in!
  • If you’d like to get married on the beach or in a public place you may need Council permits for which you’ll be charged a fee.

2. Choosing your vendors

Put together a list of rockstar vendors that you’d love to work with. Do your research and collect brochures and pricing.

It’s a great idea to jump on the phone with the vendor before booking, rather than just corresponding via email. This way you can determine whether they are going to be a good fit and you can be sure that they get your vision. You can also gain a lot of valuable information and ideas from just chatting with vendors.

If you’re super keen to work with a particular vendor, check in with them before you book your venue to ensure that they can travel and work with your venue.

An unprofessional and unreliable vendor can cause you so much unnecessary stress during the lead-up and on the big day, so here’s a checklist you can use to vet your vendors:

  • Check they have great reviews – (Google / Facebook / Testimonials)
  • Check they are experienced in the industry and they have a professional and reliable reputation and portfolio.
  • Communication should be easy and quick, they should be approachable and friendly.
  • They are happy to work within your budget and there are no other hidden costs (ask about delivery, set up costs, overtime charges)
  • They are happy to conduct a site visit to iron out any potential set-up issues before the big day.
  • If you’re hiring glamping accommodation, choose a supplier that will manage your guest bookings for you so it’s one less thing for you to think about.

3. The venue

Whether you’re planning an intimate garden celebration or a vast festival-style wedding on a big plot of land, it’s important that your venue meets all of your requirements.

Things to consider:

  • Where will you hold the ceremony and reception?
  • When planning where to position the ceremony and reception, think about how you can incorporate the natural surroundings. Are there trees and bushes to drape lights, festoons or decorations from.
  • Will you be using backdrop props or making the most of the views?
  • Is there enough space for your desired structures / marquee? Is the ground penetrable, flat and suitable for marquee’s / tents to be set up on?
  • How else might you utilise the space at your venue, will you have lounge areas, lawn games or kid’s spaces?
  • Is there access to adequate power sources? If not, you will need to hire in generators.
  • Is there accommodation nearby for guests? If not, will the venue allow glamping accommodation on site?
  • Are there any toilets on site? It’s likely you will need to hire these in.
  • How far is the ceremony area from the reception area? Will you need to consider a means of transport to get guests from one area to another?
  • Is there easy access for elderly guests?
  • How will the bride arrive at the ceremony area?
  • Does the venue offer any unique and quirky forms of transport such as tractors, farm vehicles or even horses?!
  • What is the parking situation for guests?

4. Marquee/Tents

Marquee weddings are fabulous on so many levels! They allow complete creative freedom and you’re covered from the elements whether its sun, wind or rain.

If you’re set on having a marquee at your wedding securing your marquee should be a top priority, we recommend doing this at least 12 months out to avoid disappointment.

Pick a structure that suits the theme and style of your wedding and remember size is everything! Too big or too small can really affect the vibe, atmosphere and flow of your day. The size will be determined by your guest numbers, the style of wedding (cocktail vs seated) and your ideal floor plan. Your vendor will be able to guide you on this.

5. Logistics

If there are quite a few elements to your wedding such as a marquee, glamping, food trucks etc, it’s a good idea to draw up a floor plan. Having a floor plan is essential when organising the logistics and creating a run sheet. Here are a few things to consider:

  • You’ll need to make sure the marquee site has easy access for the trucks. The installation of the marquee and flooring should be completed before any other suppliers start bumping in.
  • Lighting or hanging decor should be bumping in next.
  • Next up is the furniture and dry bars etc.
  • Then it’s catering equipment, decor and styling.
  • The installation of glamping and toilets will depend on where they will be located. If they are located at a different site they can be installed at the same time as the marquee. If they are close by you will just need to make sure they are not in the way of other suppliers bumping in.
  • Everything is reversed for bump out.
  • If you don’t have a wedding planner, it might be helpful to engage an on-the-day coordinator to help make sure everything runs smoothly, alternatively ask a friend or family member to help manage the logistics so you’re not stressing out on the day.

6. Glamping

Some couples want their glamping village to be a focal point of their wedding, others want it in the background simply as a means to accommodate their guests.

Either way, here are our tips and things to consider when creating a beautiful and atmospheric glamping village:

  • Ask your supplier to conduct a site visit or send them photos of the site so they can determine that the site is suitable. Generally, the site will need to be flat with penetrable ground, free from debris and rocks and not underneath any fragile tree branches. Your glamping supplier will need to be aware of any sprinkler or irrigation systems under the ground as these will need to be avoided.
  • Your glampers will need nearby access to toilets and potentially showers. If the glamping village is going to be a focal point of the wedding you may wish to consider more upmarket loo’s that compliment the look and vibe of the village, and for that we love Paddock Dreams.
  • Think about how you will want your bell tents laid out. Consider the demographics of your guests, for example you might want to cluster the young (and potentially rowdy!) guests together and elderly guests and families together.
  • Do you want to add some other cosy and functional spaces to compliment your village, such as a dressing room or powder room, lounge spaces or kids play spaces.
  • Consider lighting surrounding your glamping village. Festoons create a wonderful festival vibe, or you could opt for solar lighting in the ground. Speak to your glamping provider about your options.
  • Will you have a theme for your glamping village? Naming each tent according to your theme can be fun or you can simply number them.. Don’t forget to create a site map for your guests so they can navigate their way to their tent, there are lots of ways to display a site map so get creative!
  • Add personable touches inside the tents, such as eco-friendly water (such as Carton and Co), ear plugs or a recovery kit to ease the hangover the next morning!
  • Ensure there is signage directing people to the glamping village.
  • Think about where the guests will park and how they will get their belongings to their tents if parking is far away from the village.

7. The details

It’s all in the details!

  • Think about lighting and sound. Will you need a microphone during the ceremony so that guests can hear you? Conduct sound checks in your ceremony area and also where the speeches will be held.
  • When hiring furniture always check the quality and the dimensions to ensure it aligns with your vision.
  • If your ceremony will be held on grass or gravel, hire a carpet or rug to stop your heels from sinking in!
  • If the ceremony area is exposed, provide umbrellas/parasols to protect you and your guests from the sun.
  • Consider having a separate kids’ space so that they can celebrate with kid-friendly drinks and games.
  • Weatherproof your hair! Pick a style that holds up in the wind and humidity.
  • Choose shoes that are practical for the outdoors, wedges are always a good option!
  • Have essentials readily available for guests such as sunscreen and bug spray in the bathrooms.
  • If you are hiring in bathrooms, think about adding some personal touches such as small amenities kits with mints, deodorant, Band-Aids, hand sanitiser, hair spray and face wipes.
  • If you’re having a dessert bar under your marquee or outside, choose desserts that won’t melt if it’s hot.
  • Have a non-alcoholic drinks station for your guests to ensure they stay well-hydrated
  • Create a wedding website. This is a great way to keep your guests up to date on the details of your wedding. Helpful information for your guests might include the schedule, directions and simple attire tips to suit an outdoor wedding. You can refer your guests to the website for any last-minute changes due to the weather etc.
  • Don’t forget wedding insurance! This is the one thing couples overlook but it could save you thousands if things don’t go to plan!

8. Backyard weddings

If you’re considering an outdoor wedding in your backyard or private property, here are some logistical tips you’ll need to consider:

Power: Between the extra lighting, the sound system, and the food prep equipment, you’re going to be using a lot more power than most homes can handle. So, to ensure you don’t blow a fuse rent generators to accommodate the extra power you’ll need.

Bathrooms: If your guest list is larger than 20 people, you will need to provide additional toilet facilities. There are so many options for a more upscale portable toilet. Our favourite suppliers are Paddock Dreams. You can even add some personal touches such as small amenities kits with mints, deodorant, Band-Aids, hand sanitiser, hair spray, cotton balls, and safety pins.

Insurance: Contact your home insurer to see if you would be covered against accidental property damage outside or inside the house. It’s a good idea to take out specialist wedding insurance and to check if your suppliers offer cancellation or damage waiver insurance.

Permits: Check with your local council to see if you need a permit to host a large gathering on your property. In some cases, your suppliers might need to file additional paperwork so be sure to include them in communications with your council.

Neighbours: Notify your neighbours of your backyard wedding plans. Give them plenty of time to plan ahead, rearrange any plans, or plan a night away. Give them as many details as possible including the wedding schedule. You could offer them a small gift as a token of appreciation for their patience. A little consideration will go a long way in keeping everyone happy!

Parking: If you Have a large enough property you will need a designated area for parking, or you’ll need to check out the rules for street parking in your neighbourhood. If there are parking restrictions on the streets you could consider hiring a valet service to park the cars at a nearby car park. Just be sure to tell guests ahead of time so they don’t leave valuables in their cars that you could be held liable for.

Clean-Up: Even small weddings produce a lot of rubbish over an entire day, so you’ll need to hire plenty of bins and recycling bins to collect it all. Your caterer might even take care of emptying the bins throughout the day, so ask if that’s a service they offer. If not, you might want to designate or hire someone to monitor the bins so they don’t get too full and cause an unpleasant sight or smell.

Plan B: It’s best to have a Plan B just in case it rains or even if it’s unseasonably hot or cold. If you hire a marquee, ensure that the sides are completely covered to protect against the rain.

9. Cocktail vs seated

One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when planning an outdoor wedding is whether you will choose a cocktail-style reception or a seated reception. Both styles have different impacts on the atmosphere, flow and vibe of your day.

Cocktail: Slightly less traditional in that your guests will be roaming and mingling throughout the day, creating a relaxed vibe that’s a little less structured and more flexible. You can accommodate more people in a smaller space (or marquee) with a cocktail-style wedding and the need for fewer tables and chairs and the absence of a big 3-course meal can generally make cocktail weddings slightly cheaper.

If the party element of the wedding is more important than tradition this could be the option for you!

Seated: If a big focus of your wedding is the dining experience then a seated reception would be the way to go! Seated receptions are generally seen as more traditional and create a well-structured and easy flow to your day. Seated receptions don’t have to be formal either, they can also be very relaxed, like cocktail weddings, with simple styling which includes earthy colours and textures.
One downside to a seated reception is having to create a seating plan that keeps all your guests happy!

10. Wedding packages

Some couples love pulling together all the different elements of a wedding and some couples hire a wedding planner to do it all for them. Other couples may choose to hire a wedding package that eliminates the decision fatigue and the need for a wedding planner.

The benefits of hiring a package are that they are often cheaper than hiring individual elements and it also eliminates some of the logistical tasks that come with hiring different items from multiple vendors.

You may want to choose a wedding package that includes every element of your wedding, or if you find that too restrictive you may like to choose a package that includes your big ticket items (like marquees, furniture, lighting) and then choose to bring in your favourite vendors, florist, caterers, photographer etc separately. Many venue and/or hire vendors have recommended suppliers that they work closely with that make this process straightforward if you don’t know where to start.

If you’re interested in wedding packages, check out our expertly curated wedding packages right here.

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