10 Tips for Planning a Wedding in the Woods
Ideas, inspirations and practical advice to create a unique and unforgettable event!
As nature lovers we are always attracted to weddings celebrated in close contact with it. Here in Italy we are really spoiled for choice between sea, hills, mountains, lakes and many strategically positioned venue to be able to enjoy the wonders of our territory. Wonders we are so used to that we forget and underestimate them, when instead they can be the ideal setting for a wedding.
In particular, a wedding in the woods has a truly unique charm: the ceremony seems to take on a certain sacredness even if you are not tied to any particular religion; a lunch or dinner among the trees, on the other hand, away from the noise of the city, gives a feeling of intimacy and immensity at the same time, especially if you are under a starry sky.
But let's get to the 10 tips for creating an unforgettable wedding in the woods for you and your guests!
1. Choosing the location
You have two choices: the first, the simplest solution, is to find a venue that has a wood right inside its property; the second solution is to organize the wedding in a wood unrelated to wedding venues.
In the first case you can count on the venue for any need: from a small refreshment corner for your guests to the ceremony seats, it is certainly the ideal solution if you don't have too much time to organize from scratch an entire event by yourself. You can also choose to celebrate the ceremony in the woods and then continue the reception in a more comfortable environment or, if the logistics allow, continue with the celebrations in another area of the same forest.
Carrying out the wedding in a wood that is not a part of a wedding venue is certainly more fascinating, but also much more challenging: you will have to think about every aspect of the event but, first of all, you will have to find a forest where you can make it! The ideal would be to manage a property owned by some friend or acquaintance, otherwise you will have to look for a private person willing to rent his own wood to you.
In such cases, don't forget what may seem predictable but fundamental details: you may need electricity, running water and bathrooms. Nothing that cannot be solved but, before embarking on this journey, think carefully if you have the time and resources for it.
So, depending on how adventurous your spirit is, you can push yourself into a more comfortable situation or a more extreme one, as long as it is right for you: the preparations are wonderful to live as well as the wedding day, which is the crowning glory. Make sure you get there calm, happy and not stressed at all.
2. Finding the right place for the ceremony and banquet
A wood, by its nature, is irregular both for the arrangement of the trees and for the ground: it is therefore necessary to choose very carefully the places dedicated to the ceremony and the banquet. In both cases it is appropriate to examine your needs in terms of both space and type of set-up.
You can in fact think of a classic ceremony, structured in a rectangular section of the wood, with you positioned on one of the short sides of the rectangle; or you can imagine it in a semicircle or even in a circle, with you positioned in the center and the guests surrounding you.
In any case, pay attention not only to the type of terrain, which could be treacherous for you and your guests, but also to a possible slope, in order to avoid problems with the seats: chairs could sink into a usually humid ground such as that of the undergrowth, so prefer other solutions such as benches, hay bales (covered from sheets) or log stools. They will certainly be more stable and you will avoid the "seasickness" effect with each guest sitting at a different angle!
From a photographic point of view avoid positioning yourself near a solitary tree with an imposing trunk: it would break the "breath" of photographs. Any branches in correspondence of your heads would also create an annoying background if they are too close. Better to opt for a location that has the trees far enough apart to create a nice background for your images.
For the banquet, the watchword is: practicality. For you, for your guests and for the catering. In the case of a dinner, you will also have to light up the place: even if you think of romantic lights and lots of candles, you will still need electricity. Generators would be practical, but their constant noise and the smell of exhaust gases would ruin the natural atmosphere that you are surely looking for in an event of this type. It is therefore better to opt for some extension cable that plugs directly into an electrical outlet.
This is why the location of the banquet must be chosen very carefully.
3. The style of the wedding
If you are planning to organize a wedding in the woods, surely you are imagining what your clothes will be like, the arrangements for both the ceremony and the table, but also the invitations and all the others graphic elements of the stationery. Let's go through the styles that could perfectly suit a woodland wedding!
Organic | Eco-friendly | Natural
For sure these are the first styles that come to mind when it comes to wedding in the woods. The differences between them are minimal and focused, more than on the visual aspect, on the chance of recycling the materials used throughout the event (therefore also cutlery, plates, glasses and so on), or on the use of ingredients with minimum environmental impact.
The common denominator is the use of natural materials: wood, raw fabrics, bamboo, recycled or plantable paper, candles, to create that atmosphere in harmony with nature, in this case with the forest and the undergrowth.
You can read more about sustainable weddings in this article.
Boho style blends in with a wooded setting, as long as you don't overdo it making it look out of place. The elements that characterize it, such as lace, macramé, skulls, branches, lanterns, carpets and feathers, can embellish the simplicity of a clearing in the woods, making it at the same time elegant and perfectly integrated.
Imagine a ceremony with wooden benches, a series of oriental rugs that guide you to a structure with branches that resembles a teepee with candles and flowers; and again a long table with laces and other elegant elements juxtaposed with natural elements.
If you are a Boho lover, this is the right opportunity to create an unforgettable setting!
The rustic style involves the use of simple and raw materials: wood, hay bales, recycled paper, glass or metal jars. It certainly recalls more a countryside setting but, especially if you rely on a venue of this type, you can combine two aspects, the rustic one and the wooded one.
Vintage style can be perfectly adapted to a wedding in the woods, as long as you take the right references such as a hunting lunch of the English nobles in 1800s: if you saw the TV series Downton Abbey, you know what I mean. At this point it becomes fun to set up some corners of the wood with sofas, armchairs and tables with an "important" and old-fashioned design: they will be small rooms that your guests will find very comfortable for a chat while sipping prosecco.
All the previous styles can finally be characterized by a further element: the possibility of having an Unplugged Wedding, that is a wedding (or a part of it, such as the ceremony) where guests are not allowed to use smartphones or other electronic equipment. In a situation like a wedding in the woods I consider this choice not only consistent, but almost required! In fact, the natural and intimate setting of a wedding ceremony in the woods would be ruined by the many screens that would inevitably be turned on.
Instead, make sure that all guests are truly involved and not witness your union through a screen. Involve them avoiding sitting with your back to them, but standing and facing them. I guarantee that, in this way, the emotions will flow much more intensely between you all, making the ceremony an unforgettable moment not only for the two of you, but for all those who will be present for you.
4. Using natural materials in harmony with the environment
Natural materials are obviously those that harmonize best with the surrounding environment. The styles that I have listed above are in fact those that are perfectly suited to the use of natural materials and you can really push yourself as far as you want: wooden benches, hay bales, log stools, branches of plants and trees, stones, leaves, wooden discs, moss, mushrooms, candles, rough fabrics... there is really plenty of choice and, being married to a Wedding Designer (my wife is Mary, La Sposa degli Alberi - meaning The Bride of the Trees), I can say that I have seen so many different variations and combinations of these natural materials, that it is always possible to find a unique one that perfectly describes you and your being.
So don't be afraid to dare and, if you delegate the work to someone, communicate any idea or feeling that can come to your mind!
5. Experience seasonality
When planning your wedding in the woods always keep in mind the season in which you are getting married and make sure you experience it to the full on your wedding day. First of all try to visit the location you have chosen in the same period in which the event will be celebrated: only in this way you will be able to realize many aspects related to the organization.
The change of colors between one season and the next one can in fact have a significant influence on the type of setting to be created. Furthermore, many details could come to mind to make you and your guests live the best experience, simply by visiting the place and looking around you: in summer, the possibility of having a small corner where guests can quench their thirst, in autumn, welcoming your guests with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
6. Pretend to be a guest
It's your day and, from your point of view, everything has to go as you envision it. However, when organizing such a special event, always put yourself in your guests' shoes and try to understand how they could live that day, especially in an atypical situation of a wedding in the woods.
So think about the time needed to reach the place you have chosen, the possibility of easily finding parking, the convenience in reaching the place designated for the ceremony and that of the banquet. Warn guests in advance that they should wear comfortable shoes and that it is not recommended to wear shoes with heels. Arrange corners where they can sit and chat.
Again, I know that it is not a good issue to think about, but it is only right that, in a situation far from buildings, there have to be toilets. But also your guess have to be able to refresh with a glass of water or soda and some snacks.
Think about who will come with children: will it be comfortable for them to move around with strollers? Think about older people: will they find it difficult to enter the woods?
In short, to avoid unpleasant incidents on your wedding day, it's best to try to anticipate any difficulties. Then, of course, the unexpected can always happen, but if you have already set up everything in the best way, you can be sure that any issue will be solved in a moment.
Finally, it could be a nice thought to make everyone find a little gift, whether it is a favor or a placeholder, always nature-themed: a jar of honey of a local beekeeper, for example, would certainly be a welcome surprise.
7. Don't forget a Plan B
Like all outdoors events scheduled and not postponable, it is essential to have a backup plan in case of bad weather. Unfortunately there are not many alternatives: you have to find a place sheltered from the rain and cold.
If you have chosen the solution of getting married in a wood within the property of a wedding venue, you can take refuge in one of its indoor spaces. Otherwise, the choice falls on using a structure that can be assembled in a short time such as a tensile structure, a marquee or gazebos. Of course, the visual appeal will not be the same as getting married in direct contact with nature, but even a solution that is as transparent as possible could have its charm, while outside the rain will fall and tick on the coverage.
One thing in this case is essential: do not lose heart and enjoy the day anyway. It will be a wonderful day of celebration and you must live it as such!
8. A long marriage
Staying in the woods until late in the evening and being able to look at the starry sky from a clearing, away from the light pollution of the city, could be a wonderful experience to share with friends and people dearest to you.
You might then consider staying with them and finding overnight accommodation nearby. This way you can meet again the next day, all together, for a cheerful and carefree breakfast! After all, the wedding day passes quickly and slips through your fingers. Extending it both the same evening and even adding another half day (if not more), can only be a good idea!
9. Practical advice
There are some practical tips to keep in mind:
- wear comfortable clothes, avoid large dress and veils that can get entangled everywhere, making your day hell;
- I know, I already wrote it to you, but it is important: shoes have to be comfortable for you and your guests, otherwise you will feel like you are living a nightmare;
- you will be outdoors, there may be wind or it can rises suddenly: avoid objects that could fly away; if there will be a seating chart, make it not have hanging and not anchored sheets;
- for a completely eco friendly throwing rice, opt for bird seeds instead of rice or confetti: not only will the colors be perfectly consistent with the environment, but in a few days everything will be cleaned up;
- if you like the idea, you can use a corner of the woods for a photobooth consistent with the theme and style of your wedding; I suggest you highlight it with a sign and leave an instant camera (a Polaroid or a Fujifilm Instax) available to your guests: you can be sure that they will consume up to the last cartridge you put at their disposal!
- in the evening, in the woods, temperature will probably drop: if you plan to stay there for a long time, arrange with some warm blankets to distribute to the people who will stay longer with you; for them it will be a pleasant surprise, they will feel pampered and will have even more desire to stay with you.
10. Admit you need help
Especially if you want to organize your wedding in the woods without relying on a wedding venue, you may need a hand both in organizing and planning the event. So try to understand if you have the strength and time to do it yourself, otherwise there is nothing wrong with contacting professionals used to organizing events of this type: they have contacts, they know how to move and, for this reason, they could also save you money.
The Wedding Planner for the organization and the Wedding Designer for the artistic design could be an opportunity for you and not a cost. Think about it!
You can see a complete gallery of a wedding in the woods to which we are very attached. Here instead you can see a revisited version in black and white of the same wedding: when there are intense emotions, when the context is a forest, where colors and light are as important as the emotions themselves, even a completely black and white photo shoot manages to convey unique sensations, even to you who weren't there.
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