Outdoor Weddings

Bridal couples should be flexible when planning outdoor wedding

Be sure to have a Plan B should the weather change

(February 2019) - Planning an outdoor wedding can be tricky, mainly because of the weather. But it can also provide the most amazing setting for that special day. Several area venues offer suggestions for choosing outdoor sites to ensure everything goes as planned.
“The best thing is to have a Plan B,” said Kelly Nichols, owner of The Wedding Barn at Lazy Daisy Farm in Milton, Ky. “These types of weddings are the most challenging for everyone.”
Nichols and her husband, Randy, opened their wedding facility in 2016 at 504 Mt. Carmel Rd. Their facility offers the ambiance of a country setting.

Photo provided

Sometimes even a little rain can’t stop marital bliss from going forward, as shown in this photo from an outdoor wedding at Richwood on the River in Milton, Ky.

Nichols has been a minister for more than 30 years. She got the idea to open The Wedding Barn after officiating at her nephew’s wedding, which just happened to be held in a barn in central Indiana.
As she suggested, having an indoor backup plan already in place will make things go smoothly should the venue change from outdoor to indoor. Also consider renting tents if the venue does not provide them. Tents will keep guests dry and out of the sun.
Most of the weddings at The Wedding Barn are outdoor weddings with the reception held in the barn, said Nichols. There are several different outdoor sites for couples from which to choose, including an arched outdoor area with benched seating, which is perfect for nuptials or photo opportunities.
If the weather is not suitable for an outside ceremony the day of the planned wedding, things can be moved into the barn, she said. She can decorate the interior of the barn for an extra fee or brides can borrow items from her if they prefer to do their own decorating.
She has enough tables and chairs to seat 150 guests, including the wedding party. Nichols can also provide tablecloths in four different colors and tea, water and lemonade for the reception. She has an eclectic mix of 200 vintage plates brides can use if they chose to do so.
Nichols encourages brides to check with her before purchasing supplies, since she might have extras left from a previous wedding that the bride and groom left behind.
Renters must provide their own tents if needed for the outside ceremony. There are separate restroom facilities with running water and she remains on site the entire time.
Meantime, a new wedding site that has just opened in Milton is the RiverView Wedding & Event Venue. The facility is the former Milton Wesleyan Church, located at 252 Hwy. 36.
Debbie Perry and her husband, Chip, purchased the property, which included the church, and held a grand opening in mid-October 2018.

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The state-owned Lanier Mansion State Historic Site in downtown Madison, Ind., offers a beautiful garden setting for a wedding with a sweeping view of the Ohio River.

“We have friends that have river property, and we enjoy it so much that we thought it would be so cool to have some of our own,” Debbie said. When property became available, they purchased it but were not sure what to do with the former church building, she said. After much thought, she decided it would be a “great wedding spot.”
The facility can accommodate indoor and outdoor weddings. Perry said every room of the 4,200-square-foot building has been renovated and a kitchen added. The couple even “brought the original hardwood flooring back to life.”
Amenities include seating for 190 at the wedding and 150 at the reception, tables (round, oblong or square), linens, a bridal room, grooms’ room, common area for use as a lounge, two bathrooms upstairs and two downstairs, and an outdoor grilling station.
There is a platform for outdoor weddings, outdoor lighting and electricity. Future plans call for building a silo to house a bar area. “A lot of extras will be added,” said Perry.
Many couples choose to hold their outdoor weddings at the Lanier Mansion, located at 601 W. First St. in Madison, Ind. “You have to take into consideration the backdrop of Madison. If you’re from the area, the mansion is iconic for the entire state,” said Catherine Williams, director for the state-owned Lanier Mansion State Historic Site.
The North Lawn gives wedding couples and their guests a view of the mansion, but the South Lawn showcases the mansion on one side and the river on the other, she said. Weddings can and have been held any time of the day and all times of the year from the middle of winter to the heat of summer.
Williams said the Lanier Mansion is probably the most popular spot in Madison for outdoor weddings. “Receptions are typically held outside” as well, she said.

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Debbie and Chip Perry have bought the former Milton Wesleyan Church on the Ohio River in Milton, Ky., where they have opened Riverview Wedding & Event Venue.

All amenities must be rented, including tents. “We ask people to have as a backup plan,” she said. There are electrical outlets, and Williams encourages couples to do a site visit. She can provide a list of preferred caterers as well. “We are open to what you want to do.”
If renting the space after 5 p.m., restrooms are available in the Lanier Madison Visitor’s Center across the street, as well as a changing area and kitchen. The Visitor’s Center contains two conference rooms if indoor space is needed.
“By the end of the year, we hope to start renting parts of the mansion for smaller parties with a maximum of 35 people,” Williams said. She also wants to open up the mansion for wedding photo opportunities.
All wedding ceremonies are held outside at Richwood on the River, said owner and operator Colleen Sutton. About a third of the ensuing receptions are tented or held in their reception room. Sutton purchased the venue, located at 1233 Hwy. 36 in Milton, Ky., in 2015 and has more than 30 years experience in the wedding industry.
“The most important thing couples need to realize is that the one thing they have no control over is Mother Nature,” said Sutton. For that reason, she said couples should “be comfortable with their Plan B.”
“Unless they can say, ‘We are OK with Plan B,’ then an outdoor wedding or reception is not for them,” she said.
She pointed out that many times couples who plan an outdoor wedding are shocked at the cost for the place they want to hold the ceremony if the place is not already a venue, such as a family farm. She advises couples to think about all the extras, such as a generator, restrooms, etc. “These costs can add up and blow the budget.”
For an outside ceremony and reception, Sutton can provide up to 200 chairs, accompanying tables and linens. Richwood on the River offers several different locations on the property and she is installing outside café lighting.
There is also a bed and breakfast at Richwood on the River. It can be rented for the entire weekend for up to 40 people. So far, Williams has booked 40 weddings for 2019.
It’s important to let guests know ahead of time the wedding and/or reception will be outdoors, so that they can dress appropriately for the venue.

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The Castle at Yew Dell Gardens provides an iconic setting for an outdoor wedding at Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, Ky. It offers several other locations on site.

Williams said something else a couple should be aware of is that it would be a smart decision to “talk to or hire a wedding planner. She can help at the beginning of the planning and help with the budget.” This is a person who has “dealt with a lot of issues and their expertise is very helpful.”
“On average 20-25 outdoor ceremonies and receptions and about half a dozen smaller ceremonies are held annually at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., said Jackie Gulbe, Marketing & Events Director for Yew Dell.
The most popular spot is the event lawn, which has a Holly Allee at its entrance. “It is the most iconic space on the grounds for ceremonies. Depending on the size of the reception there can be a lot of flexibility on which areas are used,” Gulbe said.
Other areas include The Gheens Barn, Upper Pavilion and Lower Pavilion, which work well for up to 90-100 guests, she said. The Lower Pavilion can accommodate larger functions of 350–400, depending on layout. In addition, the Castle lawn and Rock House terrace have also been used as cocktail areas.
Gulbe said couples “should choose their venue based on their interests and personalities. If you are not comfortable in the outdoors, the list of cons is a mile long. If you are the outdoorsy type, Mother Nature is the boss and you recognize and appreciate that.”
The benefit to having an outdoor wedding at Yew Dell is that “the natural beauty of Yew Dell reduces the need for extravagant floral arrangements. Your guests also get to enjoy the gardens and grounds.”

Yew Dell offers AIA award-winning facilities including The Gheens Barn, Upper Pavilion, Lower Pavilion, access to the Castle (where the bride dresses), Log Cabin (the groom dresses) all in a setting recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. “In total the facilities, gardens and grounds provide a naturally gorgeous setting for a memorable wedding and an endless array of beautiful photos,” she said.

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