Outdoor weddings—they’re a thing of splendor. The flowers, the aisle, the clear blue sky backdrop that can include anything from mountains, desert and palm trees to grassy knolls, gardens and waterfalls. We get excited just imaging such a beautiful event.

On top of the picturesque setting, you’ve got seasons to consider. Will it be spring with flowering trees, summer with sandy beaches, fall with the changing leaves or winter with snow-capped evergreens?

No matter which season you choose to host your outdoor wedding ceremony, there are a lot of details that go into planning your big day and making sure it runs smoothly.

However, it’s easy for brides to get so caught up in each individual detail, that they forget some of the most essential aspects of having a wedding outdoors. That is why we wanted to create a list that will help brides remember the fundamental elements that are essential to organizing perfect outdoor weddings and ceremonies.

Rule #1: Have an Indoor Backup Location for Outdoor Weddings

One of the most crucial things to keep in mind when planning an outdoor wedding is the backup location.

Mother Nature is unpredictable, so no matter how many times you check the forecast and it calls for clear skies, you need to be prepared for a storm (or tornado or hurricane) so your day can go on, rain or shine.

You may consider incorporating a tent into your wedding from the beginning to block rain, snow, wind or the bright sun. However, a tent won’t be enough to hold off a massive storm, so you should have an indoor location readily available just in case. Not only is this a matter of practicality, it’s a matter of safety for you, your guests and the hosting venue. Be responsible enough to ensure that you’re prepared for anything and require your venue to do the same.

Rule #2: Safety Plans for Outdoor Weddings

Something that is often overlooked during outdoor wedding prep is a safety plan. If the weather looks great at the start of the wedding, but takes a turn for the worse, you need to have a plan to get yourself and your guests to safety as quickly as possible. Make sure that there is a secure building, cellar or other spot in close proximity that is readily accessible. Also make sure to take into consideration that some guests may be elderly or disabled, so proper arrangements should be made to provide assistance to anyone who needs it. It is also a wise decision to have a general first aid kit readily available for any minor injuries that can occur outdoors. Not sure about your safety plan? Consider asking your venue or a wedding planner for advice.

Rule #3: Keep Guests Comfortable at Outdoor Weddings

Even though it is your big day, you want your guests to be comfortable so they can enjoy it too. If you’re having an outdoor summer wedding, think about providing fans and/or cold water to keep your guests cool. If you have found an outdoor venue that works well with winter weather, you may provide a warm cup of cocoa or coffee for guests. Don’t forget about the hot sun or bugs for summer weddings! Provide spray-on sunscreen and bug spray at the entrance just in case guests forgot to apply their own repellents before they arrived.

Rule #4: Outdoor Weddings: Lights. Camera. Action.

If there’s a chance the sun will go down before the wedding ceremony is over, or if your reception is outdoors as well, don’t forget to take outdoor lighting into consideration.

Depending on the style of your wedding, you may use candles, string lights, solar lights or a variety of other lighting options that suit your theme. Make sure to have spare lights or bulbs available just in case there are any malfunctions.

Rule #5: Outdoor Wedding Food Prep

While planning your wedding menu, make sure all of the items complement your outdoor location. You will need to ensure you have a way to refrigerate items that need to be chilled, and that you have ice for beverages on hand. Also, don’t forget that certain kinds of cake frosting like butter cream, don’t preserve as well in the heat, so make sure to make proper arrangements for the cake too. Taking care of the food can be a lot on top of everything else on your big day, so if your budget allows, consider hiring a professional caterer to take care of all the food preparation so you can focus on other things.

Planning for each of these things will help ensure that you outdoor wedding ceremony will go as smoothly as possible. It can, however, be a lot for you to tackle on your own. Consider hiring a professional wedding planner to help with all the details, and if you still haven’t found your perfect outdoor location, try out our venue search option.