In today’s blog we hand the reins over to Caroline Opacic (of Caroline Opacic Photography) who we’ve loved working with over the years and is a firm favourite on our recommend suppliers page. Over to you Caroline!

Today I’m chatting all things outdoor weddings! I’m a huge fan of outdoor weddings and tend to specialise in laid back, festival, tipi, boho or outdoor weddings. They are some of my favourite big days to shoot because they are relaxed, fun and usually set against a stunning backdrop. I adore using nature in my images, so outdoor weddings totally fit with that.

In this blog I’m going to give you my top 5 things to consider when planning your outdoor wedding – from a wedding photographer’s perspective! 


1. Ceremony location / timing

Karin & Neil walking down the aisle

If you are planning on having your ceremony outside – AMEN! I love outdoor ceremonies! It means you can say ‘I do’ in some stunning locations, and why would you not make the most of the great British summer while it’s here? However, if we are for once having an actually good summer, consider the weather during the ceremony. Will your guests be sat in the shade or potentially in a very hot sun? Will they be blinking into the sun – or could even you and your fiancé be as you say your nuptials? 

Claire & Tanya wedding ceremony civil partnership

Because English weddings tend to have ceremonies around 1-3pm, this is when the sun is going to be at its most intense in the sky. From a photographer’s point of view, this is not ideal, but there are ways you can navigate it. Have the sunlight either behind or in front of the ceremony. At least this will mean even shadows on you both. If you’re worried about relatives and friends being sat in a potentially hot sun, look for a venue with a shady area. 


2. Portrait timings

Sarah & Andy hug at Vanstone Park Wedding Venue

Touching on when the sun is at it’s peak leads into my next consideration – leaving time for your wedding portraits. The traditional time would be during the drinks reception/ canapés. The light at this time tends to still be strong but I have some tricks up my sleeve to deal with this. I normally like to have my couples mingle with prosecco and relax for a bit during the drinks reception. With about half an hour to go, I’ll then take them to do  portraits. This is great because of 2 things. One, it means you get to say hi to everyone and enjoy the party, which really is priority #1 ! Second, it means we’ll do your portraits later in the afternoon when the sun is less strong. I’ve also got a secret third reason – you’ll be nice and relaxed after some glasses of fizz! 

Couple photos between the pillars at Vanstone Park Venue

If you are planning wedding portraits, chat to your photographer about the timings of the day and where they could fit in. The end of the drinks reception is great, or even before speeches/dancing. 


3. Embracing the Golden Hour

Abi & Dave at Vanstone Park Venue during Golden hour

My dream couples all love golden hour as much as I do! This is that time just before sunset when the sun is beautifully orange and sending some insane colours across the sky. The light is perfectly soft and has a picture-perfect hue to it. While I tend to do drinks reception portraits, I also like to take my couples for a golden hour stroll. Depending on what month you have your wedding, the exact timing of this will vary. In the summer it tends to fall either just before or after your first dance. 

Bride Esmerelda enjoying the diffused light in the woods

If you are having an outdoor wedding I would seriously consider having golden hour portraits. Why waste that stunning outdoor venue and all it’s grounds! 


4. Party Games / Entertainment

Guests enjoying the bouncy castle at a wedding party

The lovely thing about outdoor weddings is they really do mean you get to soak up every last bit of sun and the outdoors. With traditional weddings, once the call has come for the wedding breakfast, it’s rare everyone will get a chance to go back outside and see the sun go down. One of my favourite things about a Country Tipis wedding is everyone sitting on the grass or cosying up around the fire-pit in front of the tipi after dinner. It makes the day feel longer and is a beautiful pause before the party kicks in properly on the dancefloor! 

Garden games at an outdoor wedding

To keep your guests entertained I would recommend some games or some sort of activity. I’ve seen couples with bouncy castles, rounders, treasure hunts, giant jenga etc. Options are endless and you don’t have to spend a lot of money either. A lot of games can be DIY or be as simple as hula hoops. As a photographer I love them as they can make for some really fun candid shots!


5. Formal or festival dining?

Canapes by Hungry Hog BBQ at Vanstone Park Venue
Canapés from Hungry Hog BBQ – a caterer I love

If you are planning an outdoor wedding, you should consider whether you want a traditional sit down wedding breakfast, or something a bit different. Because you are likely going to be required to organise your own catering, it means the possibilities are endless. I would take advantage of that! A great option I’ve seen at Vanstone Park many times is a buffet BBQ as the main meal. You could also consider hiring in food trucks, particularly for the evening buffet.

Esmerelda enjoying the pizza

I can vouch for pizza being a very popular choice, especially once a good amount of alcohol has been consumed! You should also consider whether you want guests to be sat at normal tables, or whether you have a festival feel and allow people to sit in less traditional setups eg: chill out area, hay bales, picnic benches. 

Rolling Dough Pizza Horsebox in the woods
Rolling Dough Pizza have an amazing setup, their pizzas aren’t bad either!

All photos in this blog are by Caroline Opacic Photography and may not be used elsewhere without her permission.

Thanks for writing this guest blog for us Caroline, here’s hoping that we can catch up soon! If you’d like to write a guest blog for us please send us a message.