If you’re planning an outdoor wedding and you’re worried about making sure guests are warm enough, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve attended our share of outdoor weddings and planned them, so we know a thing or two (or six, the tips in this list, to be exact) about how to keep guests warm at an outdoor wedding.
We’re noticing many couples getting married in fall and early winter weddings, due to getting their dates postponed from COVID. In addition, some couples are choosing outdoor wedding receptions as another way to keep guests socially distanced and healthier (along with the face masks and hand sanitizer favors, per protocol). As such, couples are looking for ways to keep their guests warm outdoors when indoor space isn’t available for use.
But first, a story.
A few weeks ago, we attended a wedding — it was held in September in Northern Michigan. The weather this time of year is usually pretty mild, but on the chillier side: you can expect highs of the upper 60s during the day.
This particular weekend, it rained and rained, so there was a definite drop in temperature. But do you know what? Even though it was an outdoor wedding and rained just up until the ceremony (it stopped raining just in time and stayed away all night), they were able to keep guests warm at their outdoor wedding all night long.
I’ve attended a wedding where no warming ideas were in place; I’ve also attended weddings where the couple and/or venue had “extras” in place to keep guests warm. Which weddings were more memorable and fun? Obviously, the weddings where they strived to keep guests warm!
It is possible to have an outdoor wedding in the fall, early winter (well, depending on your state, in Michigan winter would be quite frigid), and early spring without freezing your guests. :) Truth!
With a few tips in mind and additional ideas we’ve seen in the past, we’ve compiled this guide to keep guests warm at an outdoor wedding.
First, let’s answer an important question:
Why do you want guests to stay warm?
You may be wondering, why is it up to you to contend with Mother Nature? Well, it’s not really up to you but it’s a good thing to keep in mind anything you can do to keep friends and family warm at your wedding reception or outdoor party.
Why? Can’t they just bring their own jackets?
Well, yes, but it is still a wedding so people want to look festive, dressed up, and may not want to bundle up under a heavy winter coat until at least past dinnertime.
It is a great idea to keep guests warm at an outdoor wedding because… drumroll… it means guests will stay LONGER! You can only sit and freeze for so long as a guest. If there are no warming protocols in place, you’re not going to feel like eating comfortably, or getting up to dance; you’ll just be shivering at your seat and waiting until it is a respectful time to jet.
And plus, they are your guests! As a good host, you’ll want everyone to be as comfortable as possible, and have a great time.
You’ve spent so much time and money on making your wedding a fun, comfortable atmosphere; knowing how to keep guests warm at a wedding is just as important as making sure the food tastes good, there are enough drinks to go around, and the cake is delicious.
Let’s get started!
How to Keep Guests Warm at Your Wedding
There are five ways to keep guests warm at an outdoor wedding.
1. Make sure the tent is large enough to have walls that drop-down.
Don’t skimp on the tent, especially if you’re planning an outdoor wedding in cooler months. Honestly, you can even have a really freak cold day in the middle of July with pouring rain — I’ve seen it happen! Any tent I would rent for a wedding would absolutely have drop-down walls. You don’t necessarily need to use them, but if you want to keep the space warmer at some point, at least you have the option to use them.
The walls on the outside of the tent that drop-down significantly cut out windy drafts. This means guests will be much warmer just by eliminating that draft coming in, especially guests who are seated closer to the door where the wind is coming in.
This is probably the best thing you’ll ever invest in at your outdoor wedding: heaters. Your tent company probably rents them, and if not, find another company that will provide heaters designed for outdoor tents. The wedding we attended earlier this month had heaters and they kept guests EXTREMELY cozy. It was so nice! The heaters were almost like having mini bonfires all around the space. They used 6 heaters throughout the space; there were approximately 100 guests, give or take. It was just enough heat to keep everyone cozy and it almost made you forget you were even outside, on a cold rainy day! Amazing.
3. Offer blankets for guests.
YES, wedding blankets are one of the best ways to keep guests warm at a wedding! Offer soft pashminas to female guests to wear during the ceremony and reception: you can purchase them in bulk (cheap!) here. If I was buying them for my wedding, I’d get them from MiaKraftsShop. They have the best reviews, most colors, best prices — and the tags are super-cute!
Place them in a basket with a cute tag that reads something like, “To have and to hold, and in case you get cold” or something similar. Even a sign with “Snuggle Up” will do! The key is you will want guests to feel like, yes, you can totally take one, wrap up in it, and take it home. :) If you buy the tags included with the pashminas from here, that’s one less thing you have to do.
You can get a cute sign like this from PaperandPineCo.
In addition, if you’re having an outdoor space around a bonfire or fireplace, offer big cozy blankets. Just a few will do! These can just be your own blankets or favorite throws, not necessarily for guests to take home as favors, but instead rolled up in a basket for anyone to take as they sit at the fireplace. Blankets will be replaced to the basket at the end of the night and you can take them back home. How many blankets should you have? You only need about 5 or 6 of them.
If you want to offer big blankets that a few guests can take home, these cozy ones are a nice choice. They made for weddings and will look nice at your outdoor wedding. Gotta love that creme color, it goes with everything!
Or for a late fall/early winter wedding, these “Baby It’s Cold Outside” or monogrammed blankets are a cute touch! By TwoBoysandAQueen.
Also, for a generic basket of blankets, your guests will love to cozy up under, I always hit up Kohls or Target around this time of year. They usually offer their fleece blankets for under $10, and they wash up nicely. You can get them for as low as $10 here. And you’ll use them again at home (and pass some out to friends or family to take home if you have extras).
4. Create a coffee or hot cocoa bar.
Nothing warms up guests quite like coffee or hot cocoa. Okay, maybe drinks at the bar, but you also need something instantly warming. ;)
The big trick to making a successful hot cocoa or coffee bar outdoors is one thing: continually hot water/coffee. If you’re offering cocoa to guests, you need lots of hot water on demand. For coffee, the same applies — but you need lots of hot coffee ready-to-drink (and you’ll want it re-made often to keep it from tasting old).
For hot cocoa or coffee, use a hot carafe like an Airpot to keep it piping hot all night long. You can get one here.
It has amazing reviews and holds a lot of liquid, so you’ll be worrying less about refilling it. You can get one for hot cocoa and another for coffee; just label each one.
And during this time of year, don’t forget to use disposable coffee cups. It will cut down majorly on spreading germs. You can get a huge supply of cups, stirrers, travel lids, and more from AverageJoe.
If you want a cute and personalized coffee cup or cocoa cup option, get these custom coffee cups! They are by For Your Party and they look adorable.
And you can also offer these hot cocoa favors at your wedding to make things even easier!
5. Use candles in your centerpiece design.
The use of candles — whether a real flame or even just an LED candle — gives the illusion of warm heat. By decorating with candles, you instantly make your space warmer with the flickering lights!
6. Keep bridesmaids warm
While this tip isn’t necessarily applicable to ALL of your guests, it is important to keep bridesmaids warm at your wedding. The groomsmen will have a suit jacket or coat, so they’ll be warm, but bridesmaids may be wearing a strapless or v-neck dress that gets frigid outdoors.
And don’t forget a wrap for yourself. :)
You can get the faux fur wraps from SissilyDesigns. They offer many colors and styles from which to choose. There are many examples of bridal parties wearing faux fur wraps here so you visualize how it will look.
Tips to Keep Wedding Guests Warm
To recap, here are the best tips for how to keep guests warm at an outdoor wedding:
– Have a nice, big tent with walls
– Rent heaters, approved for outdoor tent use (safety first!)
– Offer pashminas / blankets for guests
– Use candles in your design
– Give faux fur wraps or shawls to bridesmaids to keep your bridal party warm :)
For more tips on keeping yourself cozy, read: What To Wear Over Your Wedding Dress. It has fantastic ideas!
Hope it helps!