There is nothing more beautiful than Nebraska in the summer—the clear air, fresh breeze, and the gentle sounds of birds and crickets, except when it’s not. Nebraska weather is famously unpredictable and those gentle breezes can turn into gale force winds quickly! Outdoor weddings can be beautiful and cost effective, but there are a number of points to consider before planning your outdoor ceremony. A little planning can be the difference between the wedding of your dreams –and one that goes viral for all the wrong reasons! Because weather is always a factor you should always have a backup plan. A tent or awning may be sufficient for simple ceremony but it may not meet the needs of your officiant and/or musicians. The harp cannot get wet at all, whether from damp ground or wind-blown rain, and must have sufficient protection. Someday I’d love to get carbon fiber harp which is essentially weather proof, though sadly the harpist is not! Different event vendors may have different requirements for when you notify them on changes in plans due to weather. My preference is for a minimum of four hours’ notice. Many venues here in Lincoln have adjacent indoor locations, but they must be rented and reserved separately. You must also consider the needs of your guests. Guests with health conditions may not be able to tolerate extremely hot or cold conditions. It’s fairly easy for me to slip extra layers and long johns under my performing attire but I’ve seen a few bridesmaids turning blue in chilly weather! In addition, some outdoor locations here in the Lincoln area are more accessible than others for people with mobility issues. Some venues may allow you to transport guests in golf carts or personal vehicles to the ceremony location but not all do. You may also need to make arrangements for guests with special needs to be seated earlier than the rest of your guests. It may be cheaper and easier to schedule an extended season wedding; however, I recommend checking the venue’s gardening schedule. For instance, you can find when planting and clearing out the Sunken Gardens occurs on Lincoln Parks & Rec’s website. I know of one couple who planned an October wedding at the Sunken Gardens only to find out the night of their rehearsal that the gardens had already been cleared for the season. They were able to bring in a number of potted plants, but it created a lot of extra stress for them on their wedding day! Some sites also have special restrictions on the number of guests, how many chairs can be brought in and where, or the total hours available for rental, including rehearsal. Many sites remain open to the public even when reserved for your ceremony. Golf courses also have limitations on how long they are willing to stop play. One aspect of outdoor ceremonies that has been especially enjoyable for me is the freedom that couples have in their choices of readings or music. However, if your officiant is associated with a particular faith, they may ask you to keep your readings and music in line with that faith even if the ceremony is outdoors. Several locations are located near active railroad tracks or busy thoroughfares and you may want to consider some sort of amplification for your officiant. At one favorite location, passersby enjoy honking their congratulations! One final aspect to consider is allergies. Allergies can be an issue with both indoor and outdoor weddings; however, there can be some interesting challenges in the outdoors! After finishing a ceremony in a lovely local spot, I noticed a yellow powder all over my instrument. At first I wondered if some of the colored sand from the sand ceremony had drifted my way but realized that the beautiful pines trees that line the location had been releasing clouds of pollen! I hope that this information is helpful. We are fortunate to have so many beautiful outdoor locations here in Lincoln and they are among my favorite places to play!