Creating an Outdoor Wedding Ceremony

Brooke Johnson Photo

May 16, 2024

Have you ever been to see a band at a festival and been a bit underwhelmed by the experience? A lot of this can be because nobody helped them properly translate their sound and visuals for an outdoor gig. Some experiences work better inside, but that doesn’t have to be the case for your wedding ceremony!

The Basic Laws of the Outdoors

Let’s get real – sunshine is great, but not when it’s beating down in your face, or my face, potentially during the most photogenically important hour of your life. Ask your venue for advice on where the sun will be at the hour of your ceremony and think about shade, shadows and squint risks. Experiment with fabric canopies and ceremonial bowers.

Do a sound assessment. Are you under a flightpath, a jackdaw’s nest, near a working farm, or surrounded by trees which toss the acoustics in the wind? I know these feel extreme, but if you’re worrying about crying babies drowning your vows out, then you should be thinking about passing tractors doing the same. Consider some amplification if your venue allows.

Be Directive with Your Ceremony Space

Venues tell me that most couples just go with the ceremony set up they are shown when they visit or see their brochure – don’t settle for this! There’s a reason no outdoor sport on the planet is spectated from just one angle, so why should your ceremony!? You can be in the centre or surrounded on three sides if you want. Consider sitting down yourself for some of the ceremony in order to breathe in the gorgeous location you’ve chosen. My couples love to do this, it produces great images and gives them a chance to be calm and close together. 

The Rituals

Celebrant weddings are about your love story and your life choices. If you’ve chosen an outdoor ceremony because you love nature, let’s make it a part of your union. Crown each other with flora when you meet at the altar. Use wildflower seeds as confetti (if you’re allowed) and leave your love to grow after you’ve departed. Use natural materials such as ivy, vines or flowers stems woven together for your handfasting.

One tip from me – unless you’re marrying at twilight or evening, candles and outdoor ceremonies aren’t ideal. Unity candles are lovely, but not if the wind blows them out, or the sun melts them.

Create New traditions by Embracing Ancient Ones

Regardless of your own beliefs, the most ancient religions are firmly based in nature and Mother Nature is endlessly adaptable. At Pagan weddings, officiants ‘call the quarters’, a process of acknowledging the four compass points and their elemental counterparts. These can make beautiful starting points for a new tradition just for you. Are you northern? The element of the north is earth. Bind yourselves and your families together by adding soil from your birthplaces to a jar or scattering it in your ceremony space.

Go Full Festival

If you chose a festival wedding because it’s where you feel happiest, then for the love of (Michael) Eavis don’t limit yourselves. Go big. Parade up the aisle with musicians. Take some vows of silence and get a silent disco kit to do your ceremony. Use spoken word and slam poetry as your readings. Toast each other with your favourite cider straight from the can. Have a band tee dress code. Let your celebrant tell your love story in a timeline of gigs, festival holidays and messed up nights. You don’t go to a festival to be told what to watch and when, so don’t settle for anybody else’s agenda on your wedding day but your own.

About Eleanor Willock

Eleanor Willock, the Full Stop Celebrant, creates wedding ceremonies for couples who want no-limits love stories. She lives in Somerset but loves a road trip.  

This article originally appeared in issue 56 of Rock n Roll Bride magazine. You can purchase the latest copy here, or why not subscribe to never miss an issue?