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by editor Nicole Liedermoy
If you're looking for a simple, beautiful or natural wedding, a beach, park or garden wedding then the South West is the perfect location.
Whatever you decide, outdoor weddings are often memorable, unique, and offer a plethora of options. Many couples today are considering holding a garden, park or beach wedding ceremony rather than the traditional church ceremony and because of their popularity. You can now hold your wedding ceremony in areas such as a public park, botanical gardens, historical settings and gardens in private estates. You can even find the perfect setting by holding the ceremony in your home or the home of a friend or relative. And if you want to invite one and all, think about a fun-filled wedding weekend with activities that the region you are in has to offer.
Here are a few tips for you to consider when looking for an outdoor venue to hold your wedding ceremony:
Choose a location based on your wedding style. You'll want to compare facilities and, if you're marrying on a beach or public park you will need to contact the local shire for booking the space plus understand the terms and conditions of using that area in Western Australia (click here for local southwest shire contacts). Please note although you may have booked that venue for your wedding ceremony in a public open space, that it does not in title you to exclusive use of the area, the public can utilise that area too. If you've chosen to hold your ceremony in a public place such as a park, you may have to put up with onlookers, so if you want to keep it private, try to reserve a secluded spot out of the way of general public space beforehand to prevent the likelihood of unwanted guests or distractions. Alternatively, designate a couple of your guests (preferably male) to politely ask any nosey onlookers (if they are becoming obtrusive) to respect your privacy kindly.
Be sure to check when looking for an outdoor venue to have your wedding ceremony, whether or not there is a building nearby that you can use in case of bad weather, and if not, will they allow a tent or marquee to be erected. Find out if the outdoor venue you have selected supplies chairs for your guests, if not you will need to hire these. If you are having a short and simple ceremony then chairs will not be necessary apart from if you have elderly relatives.
Decorations - By holding your ceremony outdoors, you have the bonus of being surrounded by the natural beauty of the area which lessens your need to decorate. But there are a few things you should do about a week before the ceremony. Make sure the grass has been mown, the ground has been raked and that the flowers are in bloom. (This won't be guaranteed if your ceremony is being held in a public place). If there aren't enough blooms, consider adding some potted blooms from a florist. Other items you can consider to use as decorations are an arch, gazebo or trellis to hold the ceremony that also frames the bride and groom as they say their vows. Alternatively you could hire topiary or pedestals & urns with large flower arrangements. You could also add strings of fairy lights or lanterns to hang in the trees, and luminaries to line the "aisle". Simple stakes of flowers &/or organza ribbons will also do this beautifully.
Start researching and planning your beach or park wedding as soon as possible. Certain times of the year can be very busy with weddings in Western Australia. You may have to change the time that you want your wedding due to another wedding party booking that beach or park. Also you may require to detail explicitly all pieces of equipment you'll be bringing to the site, as well as all food and beverages to be served there (check with your local shire about serving alcohol to guests on beaches and parks). Remember that you'll also need to have a plan in place for clean-up, which is one part of the wedding process you don't usually need to think about when you're holding your affair indoors or have booked a private venue.
Is the Ceremony Audible? - Because your ceremony is being held outdoors, the sound dissipates rapidly, especially if you have 40 or more guests, and they are unlikely to hear you take your vows. Perhaps you could hire a sound system for the celebrant (should they not have one) for the bride and groom to use during the ceremony.
Public beaches usually have toilets, but they likely won't offer the kind of service you want for your wedding guests. If you're working with a private venue, they'll probably have restrooms indoors that guests can use, but your best bet is to rent portable toilets. Don't worry, we're not talking about the yucky single toilets you see at construction sites -- many companies now offer deluxe-style rentals with pristine facilities that you can decorate with flowers and toiletry baskets.
Mother Nature works in mysterious ways. Always have a back-up plan in place. What would you do if it rained? Delay for a couple of hours or have another venue organised e.g. your reception. As is the case with all outdoor weddings, you are at the mercy of the elements. Because the weather is so unpredictable, your dream wedding could turn into a nightmare, so arrange to have a tent (marquee?) on standby to use if necessary.
Find out where the sun and shade will be at the time of day of the ceremony and also the time of year. You don't want your guests to have the sun shining directly into their eyes while trying to watch the ceremony and the same applies for the bridal party. If you find the sun is a problem then move to a shady spot if you can, or face the chairs the other way so that the sun will not cause problems. This can make a big difference to the ceremony. Your photographer should be able to offer you some sound advice regarding this.
What If It's A Windy Day? - If your wedding day is particularly windy, make sure you secure all flower arrangements so that they cannot be blown over by a gust of wind. If you decide upon a signing table covered with a pretty table cloth or a fabric gazebo, the same will apply.
What if it is hot? Please if you are having your wedding on a beautiful beach or in a open paddock with no trees for shade to hire some portable outdoor umbrellas to provide shade. You're guests will be standing in the sun and getting burnt. Please provide shade and if it is a really hot day some water bottles as well.
If you've chosen a relatively unknown section of beach, make sure guests know how to find it and can traverse any boardwalks, rocky areas, or grassy dunes. Be sure to place a welcome basket at the front of your ceremony site (suntan lotion, bug spray, etc.).
Guest Comfort - If your wedding is being held during the summer months, it's a nice touch to make a water and beverage station available for your guests. Garden umbrellas can provide welcome shade if trees aren't available & are a nice touch in the height of summer.
Too Hot? - If it is an extremely hot day for the ceremony, why not supply your guests with hand fans?
Insects - Insects can be a big problem during summer so put out some citronella candles (this might be a problem as fire bans are in place at this time & candles are banned unless in a glass sleeve) or a bug zapper to keep your guests from being annoyed throughout the ceremony.
Dressing Suitably - If your wedding is being held in a grassy area, it's advisable to tell your guests beforehand, because 6 inch heels will cause a problem for your guests when walking!
Suitable Hairstyle - Discuss with your hairstylist that your wedding is being held outdoors so that an appropriate hairstyle can be planned and you won't end up with very messy hair!
Your Wedding Dress - If your having a wedding on the beach and thinking you will be climbing over rocks for your wedding photos. Decide, will you have a train on your dress or not.
Hire a ceremony decorator to take the worry out of decorating the ceremony. Otherwise if you have decided not to hire a professional for ceremony set up make sure you arrange for someone to arrive at your site a few hours early to be sure the set-up goes off without a hitch.
Number one rule when dealing with suppliers or shires. Make sure you confirm all agreements in writing before you let a single cent leave your purse!
Achieving your dream beach or park wedding means having all the information you need to make the perfect choices. If you don't live in the region and unsure about a few things! Use our supplier list for a wedding planner these people can help you to pull of the perfect day. A local wedding planner will have invaluable local knowledge of the best beaches and parks in your region.
Capture that perfect moment just as the sunsets to celebrate your union and capture it in a magical photograph. To do this, you (and your photographer) will need to know the time that the sun will set on your chosen wedding date. A great website that can assist you with calculating the time of the sunset on your wedding day is:
Plan to be on the beach well before sunset to enjoy twilight (the time before the sun has set).