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Inspiration & Expert Advice to Help You Create Your Own Wedding Ceremony!

Tips For Having Your Wedding In A Park, Reserve Or Outdoor Setting

Sharon and Jonathon met six years ago while travelling around England. It was a chance meeting on a walking track that was miles from anywhere. “I remember the first time I saw Sharon walking towards me, I was struck by her smile and shining eyes”. They started a conversation and met up for dinner that night in a local pub. After spending a week together ambling along country lanes it was time to part and go their separate ways. It wasn’t long however, before they met up again in Europe and from that second meeting Sharon and Jonathon have been inseparable.  Many years and stories later they decided to get married in Coffs Harbour. 

With their shared love for walking and the forest, they chose to get married in the aptly titled Wedding Bells State Forest, in the hills behind Coffs Harbour.  With the aid of a map and ribbons to mark the turnoff, guests arrived twenty minutes before the start of the ceremony and family and friends were guided along the track. A small clearing was selected for the ceremony and everyone gathered around. Friends had carried in a few chairs for the grandparents to be seated. “When Jonathon and I walked into the dappled forest, I could see my family and friends beaming at us. In the clearing, the sun was streaming in, the air was fresh and it was very quiet – this was just perfect for us – a place that we both held very special in our hearts.”

The ceremony celebrated their meeting and the unfolding of their journey together. With a cheer from all the guests, they were pronounced husband and wife and kissed under the canopy of a great rainforest tree. After the ceremony and a short stroll further along the track, Sharon and Jonathon and the guests headed back into town for the reception at one of the local resorts. “The day was perfect.  The ceremony was everything we wanted and so much more than what we had imagined.”

Tips For Having Your Wedding In A Park, Reserve Or Outdoor Setting

  • Provide a clear and detailed map for your guests and celebrant. Place balloons or ribbons as guiding markers on road signs and posts (and remember to take them when you leave). If you are getting married in large park or reserve make sure your guests know which area you will be in for the wedding; and also how long it will take for them to park and walk there.
  • It can be lots of fun to organise a coach or bus to take your guests to the ceremony venue and back to the reception venue if they are at two different places.  Sarah and Stephen had one bus for the bride and all the female guests, and another bus with the groom and the men. They had a great time on the way there. Think well about the meeting time for pick up and the logistics of how long it will take to get there and disembark for the ceremony to start on time.
  • With outdoor weddings always plan a back up venue.  On the invitation state the wet weather venue and also a contact number for your guests to call to check in case of uncertain weather.  Make sure this number has a message bank so you can leave a recorded message about what is happening. Even if the weather is perfect, leave a message saying that everything is proceedings as planned.
  • If you are going to have chairs and a signing table and do not have a wedding decorator booked - delegate the task!  Make sure you have seating for those that will need it.
  • Let your guests know if they need special clothing or shoes. For example: if the track will be muddy or if there is a water crossing this is very important! Do they need to bring umbrellas for sun protection?
  • Bring a bag with bottled water, insect repellent, sun block, tissues and other handy supplies.
  • If you are getting married in a national park, on council land or in a state forest you may be required to get a permit and pay a fee. There are also certain restrictions on what you may be able to set up. The throwing of petals, confetti, rice, etc may be banned.  
  • For weddings with over 15-30 guests ensure that your celebrant uses a good quality public address system so that all of your guests can hear the ceremony.
  • Keep it simple and natural!  Too many props will mean lots of carrying and organising.

Enjoy your celebration, laugh and smile and have fun!

Wendy Haynes

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