You're guaranteed an epic ceremony backdrop, but choosing this type of location also means you're in for some extra work.

By Sara Dickinson
May 12, 2020
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Forest weddings offer amazing natural backdrops, but the views come at a cost. Creating an inviting space for guests in the forest is easier said than done, so we spoke with three wedding planners about what you should consider if you want to get married in one of these nontraditional ceremony and reception spaces.

Permits

The first thing you need to do if you're thinking about getting married in a forest is to do your homework. Most places, especially national parks, will require you to apply for a permit, even if you're only planning on having your ceremony there. The tricky part? Sometimes you'll need to apply for the permit a year in advance, while in other circumstances, you may not even be able to submit paperwork until a few weeks before the big day. Some national parks won't even issue permits during their busy tourist months. Bottom line: Do your research before committing to a forest wedding to make sure you can lock it in for the date you want.

Logistics

Some of the luxuries associated with hosting your wedding at a traditional venue go out the window when you decide to get married in the woods. Mother nature, first and foremost, is unpredictable, so you'll want to have a plan B in case of severe rain. You'll also want to plan ahead for elements like bugs, sun exposure, rain or heat. Consider providing bug spray, sunscreen, umbrellas, pashminas, or hand fans at the entrance of your ceremony.

Another big logistical issue can be the lack of power outlets in the woods. This makes it difficult to create lighting, amplified sound, and temperature control, so you'll have to make sure there's room in the budget to bring in these resources, assuming the locale will allow you to do so. And with the uneven terrain and lack of power, remember that your vendors may face some difficulties with setup and breakdown, so you'll want to clearly communicate the setting of your wedding with them from the start.

Comfort

The landscape at a forest wedding will not be perfect. Jenni from Imoni Events stresses the importance of making sure your guests are comfortable. "This starts out with walkways," she says, "Most people will dress nicely for a wedding, so tromping through the woods is not the first thing they think about when getting ready." She suggests sweeping walkways and lighting them with lanterns for a magical forest feel while keeping everyone safe on the rough terrain.

BillieJo, a planner at Michelle Leo Events, reminds us, "You'll want to make sure to notify your guests on the travel and terrain of the area you're getting married so they can plan accordingly and wear appropriate attire." With that being said, you may need to be flexible about your dress code if you tie the knot in a forest. While guests can certainly dress up, it may be best to tone down your dress code so that guests are as comfortable as possible.

Safety

The absolute last thing you want on your wedding day is a guest getting hurt. Hosting your wedding in a forest makes the likelihood of an injury go up due to the rough terrain, which means it's essential that guests know what to expect. "Never forget to take emergency situations into consideration given that you might be miles away from civilization and/or a hospital," Kara from Michelle Leo Events says, "Pack a first aid kit just to be safe."

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