Seasonal splendor: Outdoor weddings require indoor back-up plan

E.C. Campbell Photography

When planning an outdoor event, especially in the fall, weather is often a variable that calls for a good back-up plan.

Weather is a key detail that comes into play when planning an outdoor event, especially in Northern Michigan. We all hope for beautiful, sunny-but-not-too-hot weather for an outdoor event, but the forecast is always changing.

Northern Art PhotographyIt’s a good idea to find a venue that has an indoor or sheltered space available in case of inclement weather. Whether it be the reception hall, a pavilion or open conference space, it’s wise to have somewhere to go at the last minute, if needed.

“At Castle Farms, we guarantee for outdoor wedding ceremonies that the indoor reception space can be accessed earlier in the case of rain,” said Sarah Hagen, lead venue event coordinator.

Hagen also shared another good idea.

“If no indoor space is available, contact an event rental company and place a hold on a tent. Many companies will require set-up either a day or two prior to the event date and will need a confirmed rental at that time, but by then you’ll be able to have a good idea of the weather forecast to know if you will need the shelter or not,” she said.

For locals, Charlevoix Tent Company offers a wide variety of shapes and sizes to suit any event needs. The company is able to offer not only tents, but seating, lighting, heating, linens and more. Covering all of Northern Michigan, the tent rental business may be the perfect back-up plan for your event or a complement to your plans. For more information contact them directly at (231) 547-9733.

When all else fails, you can even incorporate the outdoor weather into your guest favors. Whether you offer umbrellas to shade from the sun or protect from light rain drops, or give away small fans for guests to use to help cool off on a hot day, these ideas can be both fun and functional.

Paul Retherford PhotographyAfter planning for the weather comes arranging decorations, food and guests. Use your decor as table weights to keep linens, programs, cards and other items from being taken by the wind.

“You can almost always find some weighted item that will go with your theme and help keep everything in place, such as flower vases, large stones, candles, jars or even wine bottles,” Hagen said.

When it comes to food, you’ll want to keep in mind other outdoor elements such as: sun, bugs, pollen and the like.

Multiple Photographers

“Plan your food and the location of the food accordingly,” Hagen said. “For example, a soft cheese tray probably isn’t the best idea for a midday July event where it will be exposed to heat, and dips can attract bugs easily.”

It’s often best to have a covered or small indoor space for the meal display, that may also double as a sheltered space for guests.

Another important step is to inform your guests that the event will be outdoors, so they can dress appropriately. Do your best to make sure that guests coming from other parts of the country or world understand the weather conditions and how to dress properly. It’s most likely a good idea to suggest a change of clothes, not only for the wedding party but for other guests who may attend both the wedding and reception.

Special consideration should be given to parking at outdoor events.

“Ask yourself if there will be room at the site for all guests to park, or will a shuttle be needed to transport guests from the parking area to the event,” Hagen said.

If there is limited space for parking, let your guests know so they can make arrangements. Also, inform guests of any parking that might require a longer than normal walk to reach the event, along with special considerations for elderly or handicapped guests.

Castle Farms hosts a considerable number of weddings and receptions each year, of all types. For more information on their offerings, visit their website at, or contact the business directly at (231) 237-0884. Castle Farms is located in Charlevoix at 5052 M-66, a few miles south of town.


Up North Bride Home » Fall 2012 Edition » Reception: Do you have an indoor back-up plan?