10 Things To Think About For Your Outdoor Wedding From A DJ’s Perspective
Having our main office based right near the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff Arizona, outdoor weddings are popular in the area we serve. We provide entertainment for weddings all around Northern Arizona every year. Some of the most notable outdoor wedding destinations we serve are Sedona, Grand Canyon National Park, Cornville, and Prescott. Outdoor and rustic weddings are part of Arizona culture, and we have become experts in what it takes to make them perfect!
Hi, my name is Bear Cole, and I am the Manager of Peaks ProEvent Services. I have traveled all over the country working weddings, but also attending conferences and conventions. One thing that has always been apparent when meeting other DJs and DJ companies, is how many more Outdoor Weddings our company entertains.
We are Outdoor Wedding Experts! We have entertained weddings in just about every type of climate Arizona has to offer, at all different times during the year. We always make sure to bring weather proofing, and sand bags. However, there really are more things you need to keep in mind to make sure your outdoor wedding goes smoothly.
1. Acoustics & Placement
Often, at outdoor weddings one thing that is over looked is Acoustics & Placement. We don’t expect the DJ or the Photo Booth to be number one on the planning list. But here are some helpful things to keep in mind when thinking about where you will place your DJ and dance floor.
- Things can get cooped up in a tent sometimes. You need to make sure there is room for all of your tables, guests, and decorations. Here are a couple quick hints.
- Never put a table or guests in between your DJ and the Dance Floor! We don’t want to blast any of your guests with music or announcements. We also don’t want to lose your dance floor because the table in front of the DJ things it’s too loud.
- Don’t put your DJ way in the middle of nowhere! We have worked outdoor weddings where we are placed what seems like miles away from the guests. We want to interact with your guests and have them able to hear all of our announcements. On a windy day we need your guests fairly close to the speakers to be able to hear everything.
- This one is important at any wedding indoors or outdoors. Never place your DJ and the Bar in two different rooms. If at all possible, your DJ & Dance Floor should be right up close to where the bar is. This way your guests don’t have to choose between drinking & dancing. Shoot, they can even dance in line while they wait.
Power for the DJ won’t always be available at your outdoor venue. It’s just part of having an outdoor wedding. Make sure you and y0ur DJ know what type of power there is access to, and where it is located. Also, make sure that the venue has it turned on. Many outdoor venues need to turn on power to certain portions of the property, and you don’t want them to forget.
If there isn’t access to power, that is not an issue at all. We can provide power generators for your outside event, and place them discretely so that they are safe and not distracting or loud. Make sure you add this to your notes or conversation with us if you think you will need us to bring a power generator.
If you are having an outdoor wedding, you are no doubt thinking about weather. Sometimes weather can discourage couples from having their wedding our wedding ceremony outdoors. We can tell you that some of the funnest and most amazing weddings we have entertained have been in the heat, cold, rain, and snow. You just have to be prepared in case.
Heat or Cold
We service weddings in Arizona. This means when it comes to the outdoors, you could get heat, cold, or both of them in the same day. Here are some helpful recommendations when thinking about your outdoor wedding and the possible temperature.
- Remind your guests to bring layers or outfit changes. For cold have scarves or shawls for the Bridal Party. We have worked weddings where it was snowing, and the poor bridesmaids where in sleeveless dresses. For heat, provide water, fans, or something fun. One wedding in Phoenix Arizona we were the DJs at provided squirt guns to all the guests for the reception. It was fun! Just don’t squirt the DJ equipment.
- Think about a plan for coolers, fans, or heaters. The tower heaters provided at restaurants can heat up an outdoor reception area very well! Many outdoor weddings we have been at, had a bonfire for the guests right near the dance floor. Make sure you check the local fire restrictions. Provide water for your guests, or let them know to bring some.
- This is a huge one. Sun Screen! If you are having an outdoor wedding, have a sunscreen table or remind all of your guests to bring some to the celebration.
You can’t control the weather. We all know that. The good news is that we can be prepared. If you are having an outdoor wedding keep in mind what kind of cover will be available if there is inclement weather. Also keep in mind what kind of problems might arise if the parking area gets icy or muddy.
Watch the weather reports, and the best plan for inclement weather is to already have your back up plan ready. Where will the ceremony be if it rains really hard? Do you have a back up venue just in case it snows? Should you recommend guests get to a destination wedding a day or two early so half your guests aren’t stuck in traffic on the way to your celebration?
This is actually the weather element that causes the most heartache and destruction for DJs. We have seen full DJ booths and tables topped with very expensive equipment take flight in a heavy wind. It is also a nightmare for outfits & pictures.
We always provide as much weather proofing as we can, but it might not be a bad idea to discuss wind patterns and timelines with your venue. We have worked ceremonies where the wind was so strong it was nearly impossible to hear the microphones, and wedding decorations were being blown to and fro. If the ceremony would have been just 1 hour later, the daily winds would have calmed quite a bit and all of that frustration gone.
Think about ways to weight down your tables and decorations for any outdoor wedding. Also plan ways to safely secure the pieces of your outfit, especially hats. We literally sand bag our equipment to the ground or use large concrete blocks to secure it during windy seasons.
Wind can always be dealt with. However, it is a great practice to keep in mind ways to avoid heavy winds if possible.
4. Bugs & Pests
Bugs & Pests can annoy anybody. You don’t want your guests smacking mosquitoes your whole ceremony instead of hearing your vows.
- Bugs: Provide Deet and NonDeet Bug Spray on the SunScreen table for your guests. Some people are allergic to Deet. This is a great way to help all your guests that didn’t think about bringing bug repellent, and show you were super prepared!
- Pests: We have experienced everything from squirrels, to racoons, even a bear at outdoor weddings. Make sure your guests are not throwing food all around the area, and provide plenty of safe receptacles for trash.
5. Outfit Changes
Outfit changes are a great way to prepare for an outdoor wedding. Maybe it will be hot during the day, and cold at night. Lots of brides have a hard time dancing and getting down in their dress later in the evening. Have a change of clothes for different steps, or different weather possibilities during your wedding could save you from a horrible time at your reception. This is also a great idea for your Wedding Party and Guests.
6. Safe Walkways
This outdoor wedding planning point is often overlooked. Do you have safe walkways across the main areas your guests will need to travel? Will grandparents be okay to make it from the parking lot to your tent or ceremony? Make sure you keep safe walkways in mind.
Safe walkways become exponentially important at night. Will your guests be able to see their path to the restroom or other important areas? We can provide uplighting or bistro lighting to help light up paths. This won’t only keep things safe, put also adds a beautiful touch of decoration and class. If not, you may need to provide flashlights or lanterns for your guests.
7. Parking & Restrooms
Not only is it important to make sure there is ample parking and restrooms available for your guests, it is also important to make sure you have the correct permits. Is it legal to park where you would like? Will the vehicles be able to get out if there is inclement weather? Do you need to provide porta potties to your guests? These are a few things to think about.
Some areas will require that you provide restrooms to a gathering of people over a certain size. Make sure you keep these details in mind.
At my wedding, which was not only outdoors but remote, we decided it was best to shuttle the guests in. We had them park at a designated spot and shuttled them in to the wedding in 4×4 vehicles. ~Bear Cole
8. Noise Ordinance
This is a huge thing to keep in mind for any outdoor wedding or celebration from a DJs perspective. What are the noise ordinances where you will be celebrating? Make sure you plan around these. If there is a decibal regulation your DJ will need to follow that and not play above that level. If there is a time cut off for loud noise at a certain time, we should try to have the reception ending or winding down before that.
We played a wedding recently where the couple wanted to go past the noise ordinance. We planned with them and had all the fun and dancing done right before the noise ordinance kicked in. After that, all the guests retired to the BonFire and we played light background music for them as they spent time together around the fire.
Your guests are going to make lots of it. So what is your plan to get it out? Do you have vehicles set to help remove the trash? Can you designate some friends or family members to be the load out crew? The last thing you want to do at the end of your wedding night is spend an hour picking up everybody else’s trash.
We entertained a casual outdoor wedding where the DJ made an announcement on the microphone, and had the DJ assistant help hand out trash bags to all the guests. We asked guests to clean up the trash just around their designated table so that the bride & groom and wedding party could head out right after dancing instead of staying to pick up. This may not be appropriate for all weddings, but when you are celebrating outdoors there isn’t always a crew to pickup when you are done.
10. Loading Out
We aren’t going to be greedy or selfish here, but this is a huge one for the DJ. Your DJ has been working an average of 10-16 hours by the time the wedding winds down. It is important to have a plan designated so that the DJ can get a vehicle in to pick up their gear. This is also important to all the vendors and guests.
Do you have a plan for who is taking home the gifts and cake, and in which vehicle? Do you have a spot designated for your DJ or Caterer to park after the wedding to load out? Who in your group is going to help with the various tasks to get things home? These are just a couple things to think about to save you from having the stress of worrying about it on your wedding night. You should be celebrating, not helping Uncle Rob load up the chairs.