Wedding Venues

How to Have a Park Wedding

Continued (page 2 of 3)

After you make your selection, ask your florist if he can apply a preservative to the flowers that will help them stay fresh. Once your bouquet and bridesmaids' blooms arrive at the ceremony site, Langrall suggests immediately placing them in a bucket of cold water. If stems can't be submerged (perhaps because they're wrapped in ribbon), at least try to find a shady spot, she says. "Keeping them out of the sun for as long as possible will help them look even more beautiful."

Come Rain or Shine

If Mother Nature is having a bad day, it may translate into a rain-soaked ceremony site. So it pays to always have a Plan B. The safest strategy is to secure a permit that will allow you to use an existing gazebo or band shell, if one is close at hand. And although tents aren't usually used for ceremonies, you might consider renting one for the day—check with park officials beforehand about regulations. (Just be prepared to pay for it, regardless of the weather.)

Another contingency plan is to hold your ceremony at the home of a hospitable friend or relative who lives close to your original location. (That way, guests won't have to scramble with alternative transportation routes the day of the wedding.) Print the address and a phone number to call that morning on a rain card, and include it in your invitations so guests know exactly where to go. And remember that no matter what the skies decide to throw your way, a little humor—and a big umbrella—will help save the day.

Field-Good Fashion

Since most park weddings take place during the daylight hours, a bride shouldn't look like she's attending the Oscars. "Save the glitter and beading for a nighttime celebration," says Rachel Leonard, Brides fashion director. "It looks out of place before dark." Instead, opt for simple elegance best suited for the sun—gowns made from light laces (Chantilly, Alençon), layered organza, or tiers of tulle with a little pearl beading.

When it comes to silhouettes, stick to romantic Empire columns, short-sleeved A-lines, or corsets with modified ball-gown skirts. "Have the hemline raised to the top of your instep—a half-inch higher than you would for an indoor wedding," advises Leonard. "This will keep your dress from dragging in the grass."

Just as eveningwear is a fashion faux pas for the daytime bride, tuxedos are taboo for the groom. If yours will be a formal affair, he can wear a stroller or morning coat with striped pants. A four-in-hand tie completes the look. Keeping things casual? Then have him choose a dark suit, paired with a dress shirt and tie. The important thing to keep in mind is that the formality of his outfit should match the formality of your dress.

Divine Intervention

Some members of the clergy will only perform wedding ceremonies within a house of worship. So before you book that special spot by the lake, make sure your officiant is willing to work on location. While many Protestant and Jewish couples are free to tie the knot outdoors, Roman Catholics are encouraged to marry inside a church. "But each of the nation's dioceses, which are run by bishops, has its own rules," explains Father Sean Martin, director of the Institute for Religious and Pastoral Studies at the University of Dallas, in Irvington, TX. "So call ahead to speak with your priest. He may be willing to make an exception."

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