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Outdoor Weddings: The Perfect Place

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2003

The first step, of course, is choosing a location. An outdoor venue can be as fancy as the gardens of an historic mansion or as rustic as a national park. Use your imagination: You can marry on the rooftop of a skyscraper, on a farm, in a ballpark, or at a zoo. If you need help finding locations, consult travel guides, the Internet, local chambers of commerce, or a wedding planner. As you consider each place, keep in mind that natural scenery changes dramatically from season to season. "A vineyard is perfect from August through October," says wedding planner Francesca Abbracciamento of Francesca Events in New York City. "But in spring, the vines will be bare."

So be sure to ask specific questions about what the location will look like, right down to what will be blooming, at the time of your wedding. Also check the local weather averages so you don't inadvertently schedule your nuptials during the area's rainy season or unpleasantly hot, humid period. But even if The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts a beautiful day, don't overlook the possibility of rain or unseasonably chilly temperatures. It is absolutely crucial that you plan not one but two events-the first for good weather and the second for bad. Some venues (such as a resort or country club) have indoor and outdoor facilities, making it easy to move the party inside. If a location does not have a backup spot, you can use tents instead (this will add to the cost of the wedding, so consider your budget before booking the place).

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