Experts help take Midwest weddings outside

Experts help take Midwest weddings outside

by Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

If you're a nature nut or just always imagined saying your vows in the great outdoors, there are a number of things to consider during the planning stage of a wedding that's exposed to the elements.

Outdoor weddings and other special events work best when the main parties involved are outdoor-type people, says Pam Parker, owner of JP Parker Flowers in Indianapolis. If you love the outdoors, you know what to expect and are willing to contend with the challenges.

Parker says about 30 percent of her weddings take place outside and can range anywhere from $500 to $50,000. "I've produced a December outdoor wedding in Minnesota with a heated tent that was high-end," she says. "We also do several weddings in a local rose garden in which we just provide the bridal flowers."

There are a number of obstacles to overcome - the biggest in the Midwest is Mother Nature, who will have her way no matter what precautions are planned. In summer, it could rain, be hot and humid or unseasonably cool. Fans or misters may be needed for comfort. Insects will be attracted to the flowers, fragrances and food. In winter, heaters will be required, along with a tent with enclosed sides.

In fact, a tent should always be plan B, says Linda Savage, owner of highly rated Class Act Catering in Eagan, Minn. "You need to reserve the tent ahead of time and be willing to pay the rental whether you use the tent or not," she says.

When it comes to the food, select a menu that doesn't include perishable ingredients. Remember the caterer may have to rent generators and cart in their own water, depending on the location.

To help combat pests, Savage and Parker recommend spraying the outdoor area with an eco-friendly insecticide a day before the ceremony to help control mosquitoes, flies, bees and other bugs. To keep flowers fresh, make sure there are vases to stow bouquets when they aren't being carried. Many of Parker's arrangements have the stems of flowers tucked in small vials of water to ensure their freshness. When wrapped, you can't tell the bouquets have their own water.

When it comes to decorating, it's better to feature reliable annuals in the landscape. Order the type and color you want through a garden center a year before the event. The landscape can be decorated with hanging baskets and other containers if you can't plant anything.

Sometimes known as the Hoosier Gardener, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp lives in Indianapolis, where she manages perennials and woody plants for a large, independent garden center. A freelance writer, her work appears in many publications, including The American Gardener and Garden Gate. Sharp also speaks about gardening throughout the Midwest and is a director of the Garden Writers Association.

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