Most of us have seen cartoons showing lines of marching ants picking up plates of food and heading back to their ant hills with smiles on their little faces. Funny to watch, but not so funny if it’s your buffet or your wedding cake that they‘re heading for! There are lots of things to think about when planning an outdoor event. What if the wind picks up, or it rains? What if the mosquitoes or black flies are at their peak? Almost makes you want to trade your plans for a seaside soirée and head for the nearest indoor venue, but don’t give up your dreams yet! There are things that can be done in advance to keep Mother Nature from turning them into nightmares.
First of all, make sure you have a Plan B! If there is an indoor venue close by, pre-arrange to have it available in case of inclement weather. If there isn’t an indoor facility, a tent, or tents with weighted sides, large enough to cover all guests, musicians and/or caterers would be the next best choice. Suppliers that require electricity or have equipment that may be sensitive to the heat and rays of sun or moisture should be made aware of the surroundings so that plans can be made to prevent damage to their equipment and also ensure there is an adequate supply of electricity, and that it is safely grounded. Clip mics for the bride, groom and officiant can be arranged in case there is a lot of background noise (waves, birds, etc.)
Insects can be worse at certain times of the day, so keep that in mind. If at all possible, plan a site visit during the same season and approximate time as you would be having your event so you can determine what it’s going to be like. Bug zapping devices can be used, but can be costly. Keep in mind too, that large bodies of water such as ponds and lakes make a great background for wonderful romantic photos, but are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Guests that are not accustomed to the types of insects found in your local area should be informed in advance so that they can bring along clothing to cover exposed skin. Citronella candles and torches (check for permits) can be strategically placed to ward off insects, but of course torches may not be suitable if there are children present. Hurricane candle holders will prevent candles from blowing out, and have citronella candles lit ahead of time to work their magic before guests arrive. Citronella has quite a strong odor so don’t place too close to any food stations as it could interfere with the lovely aromas of the food. There are other “natural” repellants such as Eucalyptus and Lemongrass if you don’t like the scent of citronella. These could even be incorporated into your centerpieces and bouquets! Insect repellants come in travel size containers, handy packets of wipes and patches which can be placed on tables. There are special repellant products that can be sprayed on table and chair legs ahead of time. Include child-friendly versions if there will be little ones. Repellants and sunscreen can also be placed in the washrooms for guests to use.
You might think twice about putting fresh flowers in your hair or wearing scented lotions or perfumes if concerned about attracting bees and wasps. Jars of sugar water placed close by, but away from guests and food, will help draw bees and wasps away.
Don’t have your wedding cake delivered too early, especially if it is hot and humid, and keep it in a box as long as possible to deter insects. Also, avoid fruity flavors and real flowers on your cake if you want to minimize appeal to insects. Hoop-style bed canopies can be hung from overhead structures, trees or shepherd’s hook plant hangers to surround cakes and cake tables with the netting to keep insects off your cake. Tablecloth weights will keep the netting away from the cake. You can decorate the netting with ribbons or silk flowers in appropriate colours.
Outdoor weddings can be incredible, but unpredictable weather and pesky intruders need to be considered so that you can solve most problems before they arise. And if you are hit with unexpected weather on your special day, make the best of it and go with Plan B! After all, being able to celebrate with family and dear friend’s is what counts the most!