While outdoor weddings can be breathtakingly gorgeous, mountain weddings can also be extremely difficult due to the erratic summer weather. Following are a few tips and considerations for an outdoor wedding in the Vail area:

1. July is the rainiest month of the year. Plan on beautiful sunny mornings and afternoon showers. If you survive after 1:00 pm without getting wet - the heavens have smiled upon you. June and August are also iffy regarding afternoon showers, but not to the extent of July.
2. Cover your musicians! Unless you can predict the weather and guarantee no sweltering sun, no music whipping wind, afternoon rain, or hail storms, you should provide covering your musicians. Generally an over-sized umbrella or a pop up tent is sufficient. While thousands of dollars are spent in the creation of a perfect wedding, consider that one of the most focal parts of your wedding involves setting the mood with prelude, marching down the aisle, and the celebration of the union as a couple is presented for the first time. These moments beg for perfection. While the musical costs may be insignificant in comparison with the costs of the reception, dinners etc, consider that for such important life events, you want your musicians to be playing at their best, not worrying about a raindrop ruining their expensive instrument.
3. Make back up plans. While summer outdoor weddings are spectacular in the Vail Valley, make sure that you have a back up plan. If the weather threatens, consider that neither you nor your guests will really want to sit outside in freezing wind or rain for 30-60 minutes.
4. Call it early. If the weather does look threatening, make the call early. If moving the ceremony indoors is an option, make the decision early in the day so that your florist and other wedding service providers aren't scrambling at the last minute to make your venue spectacular. With so many other things to think about, a last minute change of venue can throw off timing, and add undue stress to such a momentous occasion.
5. Mountain top. Many of our clients choose to ride the gondola to the top of Vail Mountain to photograph the wedding party prior to the actual ceremony. While in theory a fantastic idea, be aware that summer storms move in quickly. As such, Vail is very pro-active in keeping their guests safe. If there is any chance of lightning, all access to and from the mountaintop will cease until the storm dissipates. In other words, you may get caught on top of the mountain for several hours.

Best wishes as you plan your upcoming wedding, and may all of your skies be blue!

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this is great! As a wedding photographer i have to deal with the outdoor elements all the time in the summer.
this applies no matter where the wedding is being held and your suggestion about providing cover also applies to DJs as well. A strong back up plan is highly suggested. Another issue depending on location is that when it is super hot out, some guests cannot stand the heat or humidity. A bride that got married at one of my weddings last summer ended up in the ER the day after her wedding due to heat stroke and that was with her spending a good amount of time indoors in the AC.
This information is very helpful! Below are more tips for those couples who are planning to have an outdoor wedding.

Top 10 Considerations for an Outdoor Wedding
www.outdoor-wedding-ideas-and-planning-guide.com

1. Weather. Outdoor weddings can be interrupted by a rainshower or thunderstorm. Weather conditions are hard to predict (getting a Farmer's Almanac can help) and having a backup plan in case this happens is a must. The ideal outdoor location has an indoor location just in case. Most brides and grooms opt to have an outdoor wedding ceremony and an indoor wedding reception.

2. Comfort of Guests. When planning for your ceremony, consider your guests too. Is it too hot? Make sure you have a tent that could provide shade for them. Providing bottled drinking water also goes a long way in easing their discomfort and will be very appreciated. How about those flying, buzzing, pesky uninvited visitors a.k.a. mosquitoes and bugs? Lighting citronella candles or placing bug zappers in strategic places can help.

3. Plan for Wind. Depending on the location of your wedding, the wind could be a big factor. If it is on the beach, then wind definitely is a big possibility. Make sure that all your decorations are securely held down. Wedding arches could topple over if not properly secured. If you are planning to have an aisle runner, make sure it is not flimsy and easily blown away. Opting not to have one and just scatter petals up and down the aisle might be a better alternative.

Lighting the unity candle with gusts of wind blowing all around is near to impossible. Instead of a Unity Candle, you might want to consider doing a Unity Sand Ceremony. In this timeless ritual of marriage, you and your groom pour various colors of sand from separate containers into one special container, the unity vase (this could be engraved for the occasion), symbolizing your coming together as one.

Wind and hair? Not a good combination. So, think about your wedding hairstyle too. You don't want your hair sticking to your lipstick all day. A ruined hairdo does not make great photo ops for the bride.

4. Plan for Pictures. If you have planned for an afternoon wedding, keep in mind good lighting for pictures. If your wedding date is set towards the end of summer, make sure that you research when it gets dark and plan for having your pictures taken when there is still light available.

5. Time of the Year. Autumn is starting to become the most popular time to have an outdoor wedding, even surpassing the ever popular June month. Maybe because of the cooler temperature and lower humidity. Or maybe it is the spectacular fall colors that is the draw. But whatever it is, still keep in mind that weather is still unpredictable, and that having a plan B in place is still the best way to go.

6. Permits and Regulations. If you plan on having your event on a public park or on a public beach, check to see if a permit is required. The city/town hall is your best reference for this. Check if they have regulations regarding parking, trash removal or candle lighting.

7. Good Sound System. Make sure that you provide for a good sound system for the musicians or DJs and good microphone for the officiating pastor during the ceremony. Especially if you are having a beach wedding, the sound of the waves could drown the music and the whole wedding ceremony making it impossible for your guests to appreciate the whole event.
outdoor wedding reception

8. Tent, Chairs and Tables. You can get away with just having chairs and tent if you will only have the wedding ceremony outdoors. If you have both the ceremony and reception outside, then you need tables too. One place where you can borrow chairs and tables is your local church. They usually don't mind lending you the use of these items, just be responsible enough to delegate someone the responsibility of returning them after the wedding is done. For the tent/pavilion, check your local renting place and I am sure they can direct you somewhere if they don't have it.

9. Noise and Uninvited Spectators. Make sure that the place you choose for your wedding is far from the noise of traffic and is not easily accessible for uninvited and curious spectators. If on a lake, some nosy jetskiers might come and check it out. Consider also if the place is near a busy highway. You don't want the revving of a motorcycle or the blowing of a car horn interrupt the solemnity of your wedding ceremony.

10. Budget. The size, location and style of your wedding depends on this.

Outdoor weddings are fun! Take these things into consideration when planning for your big day and get ready to have a wonderful outdoor wedding of your own!
These are some great ideas. Thanks for sharing them!
MaryAnn
If you suspect foul or windy weather you should reserve side panels for your tent. You can make a last minute decision as to whether or not you will need them. If your reception will go into the late hours and you know the temperature will drop to a possibly uncomfortable level, plan for side panels and heaters to keep guests warm. We've provided tents for late fall and even a winter carnival event, and side panels and heaters do an excellent job of keeping party goers comfortable.
Great advice. I know on one Vail mountain top wedding I photographed last year the weather was beautiful during the ceremony but during cocktails at Blue Moon we had to cut it short. A storm was rolling in and everyone had to get off the mountain.

On the bright side the couple wanted their "couples shots" regardless when we got back down and we got some wonderful "bride and groom in the rain" images. Almost a TTD session in itself.

Of course if the weather had rolled in two hours earlier the day would have turned out a lot different.
If you suspect foul or windy weather you should reserve side panels for your tent. You can make a last minute decision as to whether or not you will need them. If your reception will go into the late hours and you know the temperature will drop to a possibly uncomfortable level, plan for side panels and heaters to keep guests warm. We've provided tents for late fall and even a winter carnival event, and side panels and heaters do an excellent job of keeping party goers comfortable.

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