By Nancy Mattia
What could be better than saying “I do” in the sunshine, with warm breezes and blue skies creating the perfect setting? It’s idyllic, all right, but it also needs to be curated beforehand, with permits, bug spray and microphones. Find out how to make an outdoor ceremony or reception go off without a hitch.
Get a Permit
If you love the idea of getting married amid nature in one of Houston’s city properties, such as Hermann Park’s Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion, you’ll need a permit before you can say your vows. Contact the venue manager at the specific place you’re interested in or seek info from the Mayor’s Office of Special Events at houstontx.gov/specialevents/faq.html.
Listen to Sound Regulations
Houston takes noise seriously and requires a special sound permit if your band or DJ is using amplified sound during your outdoor reception, even if the party’s in your own backyard. Amplified sound is allowed between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. and may not exceed 75 decibels. Don’t overlook this permit: The last thing you want is for the police to shut down your reception just as the crowd is getting pumped on the dance floor.
If you’re planning to exchange vows outside, the wind may make your voices, as well as those of your groom and officiant, impossible to hear. Traffic, honking horns, airplanes and even a fountain may turn your voice into a whisper. To keep unexpected audio from ruining your vows, rent a wireless microphone and speaker to ensure every word will be heard.
Pitch a Tent
You’re assuming you’ll have perfect weather for your outdoor reception, but the reality is that a downpour could rain on your parade, making the ground wet and messy. Alternatively, the sun could be blazing and send your guests desperately seeking shade. Renting a tent solves these problems as well as provides a more intimate setting for your al fresco meal and dancing. Tent size depends on a couple of factors including the guest count and whether there will be dancing, buffet tables and a band or DJ. Houston Party Tent and Event and other rental companies offer a space planner on their websites so you can figure out the right size to rent.
For an outdoor ceremony, it’s fine to allow guests to walk on grass (though give female guests a heads up to wear flats and bring heels for later) but for a reception, it’s a good idea to rent a floor. At the very least, install a dance floor to prevent anyone from sinking into the lawn!
Once darkness falls, you’ll want to provide lighting for safety and ambience. All-white or colored miniature lights strung on trees, shrubbery and throughout a tent’s ceiling look romantic and magical. Want an instant upgrade? Install a gorgeous chandelier in the tent or hanging from a sturdy tree. Companies like Houston’s Intelligent Lighting Design offer different styles, such as chandeliers with clear crystals and antique pendants. But don’t stop there: Scatter candles and Chinese lanterns on tables for extra glow.
Plug in Air-Conditioning (Or Heat)
Keeping guests comfortable during the party should be your top priority. If you’re getting married during Houston’s hottest months — the temperature can climb to 94 degrees in July and August — renting air-conditioning equipment is essential. During cooler months when temperatures dip into the 50s at night, keep everyone cozy by renting heaters. (They actually come in stylish designs now!)
Ranking high on the list of most unwanted wedding guests: mosquitoes, flies and other winged creatures. Besides having bottles of insect repellent available to guests, set up big fans to blow away bugs. It’s also a good idea to light citronella candles on tables and in tiki torches to discourage bugs from crashing your party.
From chandeliers to floors, our directory of event vendors is sure to have what you need for your outdoor wedding!