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7 Things to Consider If Your Ceremony Venue Is Open to the Public

How to make saying "I do" out in the open go smoothly.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Erin McGinn Photography

The idea of getting married on a beautiful beach or at your favorite park sounds appealing for tons of reasons: The built-in backdrop is gorgeous, the space is significant to you, and you can go back and visit anytime you want. But when you choose a public venue for your wedding, you're giving up a level of control over the day and you should understand that these spaces come with potential challenges. From thinking of a back-up plan and nailing down the logistics to dealing with passersby and obtaining the proper permits, there's tons to think about. Here's everything you need to do before your public ceremony so that your day goes off without a hitch.

 

Location-Inspired Wedding Bouquets

 

Secure a permit.

If you're saying "I do" in a public park, look into obtaining the proper permits long before the wedding as those spaces can be affiliated with local government or administrative offices, says wedding planner Chelsey Morrison. The last thing you'll want to be on the best day of your life is kicked out! "Contact your local park office to make sure weddings are allowed in the space and what rules and regulations need to be followed—including, but not limited to, alcohol permits, security guards, and noise ordinances," Morrison says.

 

Conduct a site visit.

Scoping out the public venue ahead of time will help you gauge what it will be like on your wedding day. "We highly recommend visiting the site on a similar day [or] time of day that you plan to host your ceremony or reception," Morrison says. "Take note of the surroundings: Who is in the park at that time? Will there be on-lookers, and are you okay with that?" Additionally, pay special attention to noises in the area. You won't want airplanes or traffic buzzing around during your vow exchange, or any other part of the ceremony.

 

Make sure there are necessities.

You'll want to look around for amenities to help guests arrive without difficulty and enjoy the ceremony without discomfort. Morrison suggests asking these questions: Are there bathrooms? Is there power hook-up for your DJ or officiant? Do you have enough parking for your guests? What lighting will be available after the sun goes down?

 

Solidify a back-up plan.

"Parks are gorgeous for an outdoor setting, but Mother Nature might have other plans," Morrison says. In this case, it's always necessary to have a plan B. "Be prepared to provide tenting or secure an alternative venue in case rain clouds and thunder roll in," she adds. (Also, don't forget to add that backup plan to your wedding invitations or wedding website!)

 

Check the calendar.

Other events happening in or around this particular location could pose a problem for your plans. In this case, "Be on the ready to potentially not be the only party in town!" Morrison says. Festivals, parades, outdoor concerts, and more should be considered when you're choosing a date in a public space.

 

Set realistic expectations.

There are things you can control during a wedding in a public venue, but you'll also have to be prepare for the unexpected. "Onlookers and noisy interruptions may not matter to you, but consider the expectations of your family and your guests," Morrison says. "If they are private people, a public space may not be the best choice, no matter how beautiful." In this case, you can choose to have the bridal party photos, bridal portraits, or family photos done in a space like this, while hosting the ceremony and/or reception somewhere more secluded, she adds.

 

Enlist a planner.

If the prospect of a public wedding is causing some stress, you may want to take it easy and let someone else handle the logistics. "Don't leave anything to chance," Morrison says. "A professional, full-service event planner knows all the boxes to check and will put your mind at ease when considering all of the variables [of a public wedding]."

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