Tips for an Outdoor Wedding in Colorado

Colorado is looking mighty beautiful these days—all springy, green and lovely. May in the Centennial State just makes you want to go outside and roll around in fresh-cut grass (or is that just me?).

May is also the official beginning of wedding season (woot!). Thousands of brides will soon say “I do” in fields of golden wheat, on glorious mountain-sides or in blossoming, manicured gardens. Colorado’s landscape will become one giant wedding venue.

But hosting an outdoor wedding comes with a ton of challenges, especially in a state known for fickle weather. So we asked Boulder wedding planner Heather Dwight of Calluna Events tips for planning an outdoor wedding in Colorado. Here is her advice:

• A back-up plan is always necessary here in Colorado. Depending on the time of year it could rain, snow or we could have 20-mile-an-hour wind. Have a good back up plan for both the outdoor ceremony and outdoor reception is a must. We may not use it but at least there is a contingency plan if something happens with the weather.

• Think about your guests’ comfort. Again depending on the time of year, it could be hot, sunny and dry or cold, damp and snowy outside for your outdoor wedding. Keep this in mind for your guests and try to give them plenty of information prior to the wedding so they can come prepared. Supplying sunglasses, bottles of water, fans, umbrellas and shady spots are great ways to keep your guests comfortable when the temps heat up. Some of those items could even be provided as favors or double as décor for your wedding. For example, use parasols for a nice touch in photos, paper fans can showcase your wedding program and bottles of water can feature your wedding date. Greet guests with lemonade and spritzers prior to the ceremony and have ice cold beverages available immediately after the ceremony. In colder months, make sure your guests know to dress appropriately for an outdoor ceremony and/or reception. Ladies should be encouraged to wear longer dresses or bring pashminas or shawls. Greet guests with warm drinks such as hot chocolate, cider or tea or even provide a hot toddy bar post ceremony. If the budget allows, provide monogrammed fleece blankets for guests to snuggle up with and then take home as a keepsake. Patio heaters or full-tent heaters can make all the difference in guests’ comfort for a fall wedding where temps get chilly as the sun goes down. Lastly, how is the access to and from the site. Are there hills for elderly guests to climb or uneven ground for them to walk on? Is it wheelchair accessible if that’s a necessity?

Permits! Many outdoor spaces require that you obtain and pay for a permit in order to hold your wedding on the property. In addition to the permit, there will also be guidelines for the use of the property (i.e., number of guests permitted, time constraints as well as noise ordinances all have to be factored in before considering booking an outdoor spot).

• Consider noise ordinances. Many outdoor spots in Colorado are gorgeous but carry a noise ordinance. Some require all music to be stopped by 10 pm and some venues do not permit amplified music. When considering an outdoor venue ask what time you have to wrap up your festivities and if there are any restrictions on the type of music you’d like. You might imagine a Colorado ranch as the best destination for your wedding but if you also wanted a 10-piece band that goes against the regulations for the venue then you’ll have to decide which priority wins out.

• Make sure you’ve thought about amenities and other major items. Look at the spot and make sure there are restrooms for your guests (or do you need to bring in portable restrooms?), electricity, running water and access for your vendors. Can tents be erected and stakes put into the ground? Is the space large enough for your guest count? What about parking for your guests or do you need to provide shuttles or valet?