Southern California is abundant with natural beauty. It’s the perfect place to say “I do” in the great outdoors. Whether you want to tie the knot next to the Pacific Ocean or in a lush botanical garden, you’ve got endless locations to choose from. 

Hosting an outdoor wedding comes with its own unique set of considerations. But with the right planning, an outdoor wedding can make your big day extra special. Read ahead for everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable Southern California outdoor wedding. 

How to choose the perfect Southern California outdoor wedding venue

Before you start shopping for outdoor wedding venues, consider the type of atmosphere you want to create. Are you dreaming of a rustic chic wedding in a charming fruit orchard? Or is your style more of a cozy woodland cabin vibe? Imagine what your ideal wedding setting looks like. From there, you can start to make your vision a reality. 

Once you know which scenery you want for your outdoor wedding ceremony and reception, you can get into the logistics. Since being surrounded by nature also means being exposed to the elements, inclement weather is often the top concern in an outdoor wedding. A Southern California outdoor wedding may offer more seasonal flexibility when planning an open air celebration. But you’ll still want to make sure you and your guests have all the amenities you need to comfortably party outdoors. Back up plans and extra creature comforts are key. 

Planning an Outdoor Wedding in Southern California

Additionally, think about the essentials that an indoor venue would have, and what you’ll need to replicate them outside. You’ll need a way to run electricity for things like speakers for the ceremony and music at the reception. If your outdoor venue can’t accommodate parking for everyone, you may want to provide a shuttle service from a satellite parking lot or central location. You’ll also want to be mindful of any guests with disabilities and prioritize accessible event spaces. And last but certainly not least, it’s important to make sure everyone has easy access to a restroom. 

Outdoor wedding planning essentials 

As with any wedding, early planning and a thorough checklist can make everything go smoother. Your own list will depend on your outdoor venue and individual wedding dream. But if you need some help getting started, here are the basics to cover in an outdoor wedding checklist. 

Shelter and weather contingency

It’s a good idea to ask your venue if they have tents or other coverings available in case of any unexpected changes to the forecast. You’ll want options for both refuge from the California sun and a way to protect everyone’s formalwear in case it rains. If the Santa Ana winds blow through, you may need to weigh down your rentals to keep them in place. And if you’re keeping the party going through the night, it can help to have heat lamps for when the temperature drops after dark. 

Obtain any permits 

If you’re getting married somewhere like a natural landmark or public space, you may need official documentation for a variety of reasons. You may be required to get permission for things ranging from taking photos to conducting the ceremony itself. Be diligent about making sure you’re following all the rules to a T at your outdoor wedding. An outdoor wedding venue handles all of this for you.

Southern California Wedding Planning

Dress for the environment

An outdoor wedding offers so many opportunities to look perfectly elegant against a natural backdrop. When planning your outdoor wedding day ensemble, though, it’s smart to factor in some functionality for your location. If you’re walking through natural terrain, heels may not be the best choice. And if you’re considering long flowy wedding party dresses, a dusty location could mean they get dirty easily. 

Remember, your guests will also want to prepare their outfits accordingly. If there are any special considerations when dressing for your particular outdoor wedding venue, note them on the invitations. That way everyone knows what to expect, so they can enjoy your wedding without sacrificing style or comfort. 

Light and sound

With natural light and open spaces, an outdoor wedding gives you a leg up on photo and music choices. Imagine gorgeous candid photos on the dance floor with a full live band at golden hour. Of course, this still takes some planning and effort to pull off. Do you have what you need to run sound? And is there lighting available when the sun goes down? Take inventory of all the tech and electronics your outdoor ceremony and reception require. 

Outdoor friendly decor 

A natural setting gives you lots of room to get creative with your wedding decor. If you’re going to say your vows surrounded by ample greenery and flowers, you can tie that into your theme. Just be mindful that like you and your guests, your decorations will also endure the weather of your big day. Avoid items that are unstable in the wind, and since it’s Southern California, be aware of any open flames if you want a romantic candle setting — try swapping for flameless LED candles instead.

Choosing a Southern California Wedding Venue

Vendors with outdoor wedding experience

Your wedding venue and vendors can facilitate many of the special arrangements you’ll need to make for your outdoor nuptials. Prioritize the ones who’ve done this before. Does your caterer have all the tools to navigate the challenges of an outdoor wedding? Ask potential photographers about what time of day is best for your group photos. If you’ve decided you want a wedding planner’s help, research professionals with experience in your particular outdoor setting. Expert knowledge can make all the difference. 

Outdoor wedding ceremony and reception ideas

For every outdoor wedding dream, Southern California seems to have a setting that fits. Here are a few ideas for outdoor wedding themes that wow. 

  • Vineyard elegance. Walk down an aisle that’s nestled between grape vines, and cut the cake against a background of twisting vines and lush fruit.
  • Nautical magic. A perfect ocean view already sets the right tone. Add to the theme with shades of teal and blue and emphasize the seaside tone with background wind chimes.
  • Into the woods. If you want to wed somewhere whimsical, what says “happily ever after” more than getting married in a forest? String fairy lights around the trees and add a touch of wonder to your celebration.
  • Majestic mountain backdrop. No matter your theme, California is full of places to spend your big day surrounded by, or even on, a mountain. 


Food and beverage considerations for outdoor weddings

Decor isn’t the only element of an outdoor wedding where you can show off your creativity. A natural setting lends its own source of culinary inspiration. And yet again, Southern California offers a special advantage, with an array of fresh local ingredients to choose from. 

Consider the season when developing your menu. If it’s the middle of summer, refreshing signature drinks will be appreciated during cocktail hour. You can also benefit from all the delicious seasonal produce available. Individual strawberry shortcakes or apricot tarts can make delightful desserts. Or if it’s a bit chilly out, you can keep guests warm with a hot drink station and hearty entrees. If your venue is handling catering, ask if their menu includes customizable choices by season. 

Choosing the Perfect Southern California Wedding Venue

Of course, like all other outdoor event details, you’ll want to take extra care with food and drinks at an outdoor venue. Your caterers should have a way to keep hot food heated and keep cold items chilled. And while local wildlife can add magic to your natural scenery, protecting your refreshments from bugs and birds is also essential. 

Your perfect outdoor wedding is within reach

No matter what natural scenery your heart is set on, Southern California and its numerous outdoor locations have you covered. If you want a wedding venue that can give you a dreamy outdoor setting, with incredible amenities to match, check out Trademark’s unique wedding venues. From astonishing mountain scenery, to tranquil gardens and waterfalls, Trademark is here to make your outdoor wedding dreams come true.


Choosing the Best Southern California Wedding Venue