Wedding Venues: Woodland Weddings

Trees arching overhead; sunlight filtering through green leaves; birdsong heralding the bride’s approach. A woodland setting can make a magical location for a wedding.

Whether you’re holding yours at the edge of a well-mowed glade or you’re hiking to the middle of a fern-covered wilderness, here are some tips and ideas for creating a wedding that’s alive with natural splendor.

Finding the Perfect Woodland Wedding Spot

When you hold a woodsy wedding, you’re not limited to a specific ceremony site. The freedom can be liberating, but also a little overwhelming. How do you know, with the expanse of unspoiled wilderness stretching before you, exactly which spot to pick?

To make your decision, it helps to familiarize yourself with the territory. Even if it’s a park with trails you know like the back of your… wedding invitations, you’ll still see it with new eyes when you go with a wedding site in mind. Pack a picnic lunch and head out with your sweetheart for an afternoon of pointing out romantic possibilities.

Have fun listing your top three location choices–as well as the location most likely to make your germaphobic uncle squirm. Visit at the same time of day as your ceremony so you can take note of which areas are in light and shadow.

Scout your wedding location like you’re a director planning a movie. Where is the most dramatic place for the bride to walk down the “aisle?” Are there any sites with views stretching beyond the seating area?

Does the sunlight come down at an angle to illuminate the bride’s veil and hair? Try to position the “altar” between the guests’ seating and the most dramatic view; that way, the natural beauty will form a picture-worthy backdrop.

Making Sure it’s Safe

No, you probably won’t have to worry about Aunt Mildred getting eaten by a bear. But smaller dangers, like raised tree roots and soft, sandy patches, can pose a problem for older relatives and guests of limited mobility. Carefully walk the entire length of the passage from the parking area to the seating area, giving special attention to any points where you might have a problem with bad knees, a wheelchair, or trouble with balance. Make sure the way is clear of poison oak and ivy!

If you have your heart set on an unusual location (a wedding in a tree, for example), scout out a location nearby that will be more accessible for your less adventurous guests. Ideally, the seating area should be in a flat, open space with good visibility of the proceedings–whether they occur in the tree branches or in a more mundane spot.

Educate yourself with the location’s specific rules and regulations, as well. If you’re using a location that isn’t owned by you or a friend, you’ll have to comply with the limitations set by the management. If you’re using a public park or nature reserve during the dry season, these rules will likely prohibit any open flame, including candle ceremonies and sparklers.

If you’re using a private estate, there may be rules about erecting tents or bringing in large rental equipment. The better you know the rules ahead of time, the less chance there will be for disappointment later.

Adding Your Own Lighting To Your Woodland Setting

One of the best things about forest weddings is that Mother Nature has already taken care of the decorations for you. You still get to add a few personalizing touches, however, to make the setting truly your own. The right lighting will make all the difference.

If your wedding will be near or after twilight, you have many beautiful lighting options. Hang glowing lanterns from tree branches to lend a soft glow to the proceedings below. To transform the very trees into illuminated fixtures, wrap branches with string lighting to accentuate each fork and twist (white lights are best if you want to avoid a Christmassy look). Simple, colored uplighting at the base of trees can create beautiful effects, as well.

If you’re using any lights that depend on electricity rather than their own batteries or solar power, you’ll have to run a long extension cord to a building or a generator. Hide the cord under carpet or run it well away from walkways in order to avoid tripping hazards (plus, it looks nicer that way).

Generators can be loud,  so place yours well away from the proceedings. . If your lights won’t use much energy to power, you can hook them up to a marine battery and power inverter for a silent source of electricity.

Enjoying a Natural Beauty

Your woodland setting will give your wedding the tranquil grace and ethereal beauty of an enchanted forest. Embrace the atmosphere you love by including details like live ivy wrapped around table legs, rough hewn logs as cake stands, and sprigs of wildflowers in the groomsmen’s lapels and in the bridesmaids’ hair.

Wear natural-looking makeup and use simple accessories to make sure your natural beauty shines through like the beauty of the forest.