It’s no surprise that outdoor weddings are far more popular in Southern California than indoor weddings. As a Southern California wedding and elopement photographer (and big California-lover), I 100% get the hype. With that being said, though, it doesn’t mean the region is without unpredictable, impactful weather. While the elements may be a ‘good reason’ to opt for an indoor wedding, you can still have the outdoor wedding of your dreams as long as you are prepared for all the scenarios. I’m so excited to bring you through the ins-and-outs of having an outdoor wedding in Southern California; happy wedding planning, friend!
Perhaps you are still in the beginning stages of planning your wedding; what an exciting time! One of the first “tasks” I recommend tackling when you dive into wedding planning is deciding on (at least) a season to get married in. In the beginning stages of wedding planning, you may fluctuate between a few dates, so narrowing it down to a season is a great start.
Many folks who travel to Southern California are actually quite surprised by just how unpredictable the weather can be – especially Fall, Winter, and Spring. There have been many times where I enjoy soaking up the sunshine on a beach in November. If you happen to live in SoCal, odds are that you’ve probably worn a tank top on Christmas before! But then, there will be times where the rain is relentless and brings nothing but a chill to the air. Sometimes, it comes for a day, other times for a whole month (*cough* 2023 Spring *cough*). Just another example of just how important it is to prepare for anything on your wedding day.
When it comes to Summer, it can be extremely hot! Depending if you are close to the coast, or further inland, it may be exceptionally humid OR dry. Not to mention the possibility of wildfires or monsoons. By understanding that Southern California weather is unpredictable is the best piece of knowledge to have when it comes to planning your wedding.
When it rains, it can literally pour (especially from Fall-Spring). Despite all the old wives’ tales saying that rain on your wedding day is good luck, it certainly doesn’t feel like it when you’re having an outdoor wedding! But if you’re able to go into your wedding day knowing that the only thing that matters is that you’re marrying your person (and that you’re prepared), you’ll be set.
● Have an alternative indoor location for photos, if possible.
● Provide umbrellas for the bridal party. (I love the clear umbrellas that still allow your face to be seen).
● Tell your guests ahead of time how unpredictable the weather is. Let them know that your ceremony will happen – rain or shine!
I promise, the rain does not have to ruin your wedding day. In fact, I actually had a couple that had their wedding literally during the tail-end of a hurricane! Sara and Dane’s intimate wedding was the perfect example of how you can embrace the unpredictable and still have an incredible day. They embraced the 30 mph wind and stuck it out through the 50 mph gusts. We made it work, though! The crazy wind and giant waves made for the most unique photos. And hey, not everyone can say they got married in a hurricane. You can actually see more from their intimate wedding HERE!
If you’re banking on a Summer outdoor wedding in Southern California, it’s no surprise that it is likely going to be hot. While it’s definitely an appeal of SoCal, a hot wedding can be a bit brutal if you’re not prepared. Luckily, I’m a seasoned-pro at this point (both as a wedding photographer and resident!).
● Stay hydrated! When you create your day-of timeline, make sure to schedule in time to DRINK WATER. Nobody wants to feel woozy up at the altar.
● Ensure water and/or cold drinks are available to your guests. Whether it be self-serve, a cooler, or a bartender – your guests will be so grateful to have a cold drink in their hand.
● Paper hand-fans are your best friend. You can even have them be a favor to your guests! I always have a few in my photo bag all-year round because they come in clutch.
● Plan your ceremony to be a bit later in the day to avoid the hottest parts of the day.
● Opt for a ceremony beneath a canopy of trees.
● Schedule time to rest in the shade (while you drink your water, of course).
I know what you might be thinking… “Southern California doesn’t get cold.” But spoiler alert: it does. (2023 what are you doing?) And it can definitely come as a shock to those who are visiting. For my own wedding, in March, I put on our wedding website “Bring a jacket as it will be cold and windy at night… and being cold isn’t an excuse to leave the party ;)”. The number of guests I have seen leave a wedding because they weren’t prepared for the cooler evenings is unreal!
● Tell your guests ahead of time to bring a jacket whether on the invitation or your wedding website.
● Consider renting heaters. Sometimes, jackets just don’t cut it when the wind is whipping. Portable heaters are a great option to keep your guests around, and give them a place to gather to sip some cocktails.
● Have blankets or shawls available for guests to wrap themselves in.
● Consider having some portions of the reception indoors – the bar, dessert, the photo booth, etc. It’s a great opportunity for your guests to warm up between breaking it down on the dance floor.
This is definitely something that I see many couples forget. Your venue, much like your wedding photographer, is there to serve you on your wedding day. Some venues may offer heaters available or maybe even have alternative locations in the event of inclement weather. Keeping the lines of communication open between your vendors is such a game changer and stress-reliever.
The sun sets at different times throughout the year, which is definitely something to consider when planning your outdoor wedding. This is another area where it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your venue and photographer. Maybe you’re getting married in late Fall beneath some trees. You’re definitely going to lose light by sometimes 2 or 3 in the afternoon, especially with the sun setting at 5 pm.
By being cognizant of where the sun will be, you’ll still be able to have your dream wedding with your dream photos. For my clients, I help tailor a custom timeline for your outdoor wedding in Southern California to fit exactly what they are envisioning. If you’re dreaming of daylight photos, an earlier ceremony may be best for you. Or maybe you could do a first look and romantics earlier in the day to ensure you don’t miss out on the sunshine after your ceremony. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with some fun flash photos later in the evening!
The time of the sunset can change depending on if there are hills or mountains.
A huge part of your wedding planning process is choosing your vendors. Your wedding photographer is one of the most important vendors for your wedding, because you will end up spending the most time with them throughout your day! Sometimes, even more time than with your spouse. So when wedding planning experts say that it’s important to love your photographer, it’s true! I’m not talking about just loving their personality, because although that’s huge, so is trusting that they know what they are doing.
I actually pride myself in being a Southern California photographer because I grew up around here. The elements are nothing new to me. For my clients who are from out-of-state, they trust that I am confident about shooting their wedding in the heat, in the torrential rain, in the wind. And although I haven’t photographed a wedding in a blizzard (yet!), my clients trust that I can guide them through their day.
Trusting that your photographer is also comfortable and confident working in all kinds of light is also important. Let’s face it, the lighting isn’t alway going to be perfect. Choosing a photographer who is able to shoot some beautiful portraits at high noon is just as important as choosing a photographer who can shoot some rad flash photos.
Although the sun went down, we were still able to get beautiful after-sunset photos with these couples.
See more of the tropical wedding HERE !
No matter what the weather holds for your wedding day, I want to encourage you to embrace it. It maybe easier said than done, but I promise that the weather doesn’t need to have so much power over your special day. Knowing how to tackle each season in Southern California is half the battle. Now that you know the ins-and-outs of outdoor weddings in SoCal, you can have confidence in knowing how to prepare.
Alright, friend! That wraps it up. If you’re still searching for your Southern California wedding or photographer, you can CONTACT ME HERE. Be sure to follow me over on Instagram (@lauraburnsrphotography) for more wedding planning tips, engagement session inspiration, and more!
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