There’s something special about an outdoor wedding: the unparalleled beauty of a rocky ocean shore, a romantic botanical garden, the warm familiarity of your own backyard. But as gorgeous as these sites are, there’s also a significant amount of legwork and orchestration that goes into planning an alfresco celebration. Zeffert and Gold Catering and Event Planning has been working with clients to perform immaculate outdoor weddings and receptions in the Maryland and Washington D.C. areas for over 25 years. From the lighting to the parking to restrooms, here’s how to pull off a flawless tented reception.
Make sure to know the different types of tents. There are many types of tents, but two of the most common are frame tents and pole tents. You definitely want to ask your caterer or event planner to show you pictures of what the tent is going to look like. There are a remarkable amount of differences that can change the look of a tent to suit your style whether that is backyard casual or classic elegant.
Keep bugs at bay
To control insects on your wedding day, think about having your site sprayed by an exterminator two days beforehand and placing citronella candles throughout the space.
Since your wedding venue may not be a place that holds weddings often, take the time to make signs that will show guests where to go. Simple arrows with signs pointing towards the ceremony, cocktail reception, and main reception will help guests get where they need to go.
Lighting your site
To set the mood (and help guests see each other), add paper lanterns, pinspot lighting, twinkling lights or stately chandeliers. Light up surrounding walkways for easy access to the bathrooms. Think luminaries and small up— lights along the paths and Mason jars with tea lights hanging from nearby tree branches.
Remember to: Have an electrician check out the space before lighting up your tent. Not only will he be able to make sure you pass all the proper inspection laws, but he should also be able to make recommendations as to whether you’ll need to rent an extra generator and how to safely secure your lighting fixtures.
Bonus tip: You may want to keep a lighting pro (who has wedding experience) on hand to ensure everything stays in place—and lit up—all evening.
If there aren’t any restrooms nearby (and even if there are a few), you should consider renting them. These days, you can find luxury portable restrooms with amenities like in—room music, granite countertops and air conditioning or heaters depending on the season.
Remember to: Give guests something to talk about with a few subtle extras like luxe soaps, fresh flowers and monogrammed towels.
Bonus tip: The general rule of thumb is to have one bathroom or stall for every 35 guests. This way, guests will spend less time standing in line and more time partying on the dance floor.
Let the outdoor setting guide your music choice. If you’re on the beach, you can’t go wrong with steel drums. For a backyard reception, you might go for a folk or bluegrass group.
Remember to: Make sure your band or DJ has enough power to supply their equipment. This may mean bringing in an extra generator so you don’t lose the lights in the middle of the party. They should be able to tell you what they’ll need to set up at your site. Also, figure out where the band or DJ and dance floor will be. (Hint: Make sure it’s not in the path from the kitchen to the tables.)
Bonus tip: Most city ordinances don’t allow outdoor music late into the evening; do your research and then commit to a time when the band or DJ will unplug.
Creating the menu
Having an outdoor wedding gives you flexibility to get creative with your menu. Under a tent you might throw a New England clambake, a spicy Southern barbecue or even a Hawaiian pig roast. But you probably wouldn’t even consider those options for a ballroom affair. Regardless what food appears on your menu, plan to have plenty of cold water and refreshing nonalcoholic drinks on hand—especially if the weather is hot and humid. Lemonade and iced tea are good staples.
Remember to: Schedule a site visit for your caterer to make sure she’s well—equipped to handle the space. Also keep in mind that in most cases, your caterer will need a separate prepping tent. And don’t forget about the need for electricity and running water. Work with your caterer to draw up a detailed floor plan.
Bonus tip: Make sure your catering company has experience running tented events. They’ll not only provide all the right supplies (saving you the hassle of having to rent them) and set up and clean up, but they’ll also know to have enough wait staff on hand to ensure that all of your guests are taken care of.
Zeffert and Gold Catering has been working with clients to make their outdoor wedding as worry free as possible. Please let our experienced staff help you to plan each and every detail leaving you with nothing to do on the wedding day but enjoy. For your next tented event make sure to call Zeffert and Gold Catering at 410-944-4481