80% of weddings in Arizona are outdoor weddings. Most commonly, an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception. And, with an average of 299 days of sunshine, we need to make plans for the sun rather than the rain. Between how versed we are with outdoor vendors and the fact that we need to plan for the sun more than the rain, I found that the general tips for outdoor weddings fall short for Arizona. So, as a professional Arizona wedding photographer, I decided to make my own list to help the Arizona brides and grooms.
Even in February, hanging out in formal clothes can get hot. (Seriously. I consider February afternoons tank top weather!) So be sure to consider this not only for you standing at the altar, but for your guests! There is no need to have loud noisy fans, but I would consider having cute monogrammed ice cold bottles of water for your guests to enjoy while waiting for the ceremony to start. And in the warmer months, consider adding cute handheld fans to the mix.
If you are getting married in Northern Arizona during the cooler months or if you expect wind on your wedding day, think about ways to keep your warm blooded Phonexian guests arm. Maybe some hand-warmers, warm cider, or lightweight shawls for them to use.
Keeping Guests Out of the Sun
If the seats for your ceremony are in the direct sunlight, your guests will avoid them at all costs. The seats that are in the shade will fill up first and some guests may opt to stand in the shade instead of sitting in a sunny seat. To make sure your photos do not look like you had a lack of guests (because they did in fact show up!), just before the ceremony, have your planner ask guests to fill in the seats next to the aisle.
If all of your seats are in the direct sunlight, have a nice shady area for guests to mingle until just before the ceremony. Then have your planner ask everyone to take their seats as the ceremony with start within a few minutes.
Sunblock and Bug Spray
If your guests did not realize you are having an outdoor ceremony (come on people, it’s Arizona!) they may not have thought to put on sunblock prior to arriving. It is always so nice to have a cute area next to the bathrooms with the outdoor essentials: sunblock, kids sunblock, and bug spray (just incase). You can also add loads of other stuff like mints, deodorant, tide pens, etc. Pinterest has tons of ideas for wedding reception bathroom baskets.
High Heels in Grass
This one if for the ladies and any other fabulous people wearing heals. (I envy you. I would roll an ankle!) Grass and high heels do not mix. If your ceremony will be in the grass, consider putting a note on your wedding invitations or wedding website that thick heels or wedges are recommended. Or grab some Go Go Heel Stoppers. I would suggest getting the brand name for you and your wedding party. As you will be doing a lot more walking in the grass for the ceremony and pictures. If you want to get some for guests to use, you can get the off-brand at 20 pairs for $20.
Even Ceremony Lighting
The most important piece of advice for outdoor ceremonies for great wedding photos is to make sure you, your fiance, and your bridal party are in the same light. Unfortunately, cameras do not see shade and sunlight as easily as our eyes. So, if one of you is in the shade and the other in the sun, one of you will be dark and the other light. Try as best as you can to be in the same lighting as at least your fiance, and if possible your entire wedding party. For more tips on how to do this see my post on how to achieve even ceremony lighting.