Safe Outdoor Wedding Layout Options for Winter


Winter is typically the most popular time of year for indoor events. However, with COVID-19 variants still a factor across the United States, some wedding couples are moving their winter weddings outdoors to feel safer. As event professionals, how can we ensure that guests are comfortable with the dipping temperatures, rain, and/or snow while still providing a COVID safe affair?


Well, have no fear; we chatted with Nora Sheils, the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and the founder of Bridal Bliss, a full-service wedding planning company with locations in Portland and Seattle, to help navigate this difficult issue while sharing ideas for safe outdoor wedding layouts options.


As winter approaches and outdoor weddings are generally tented, how can wedding pros ensure they are taking COVID into consideration?


Regardless of vaccine status, I recommend wearing a mask indoors, outdoors, or within a tent.  Not only will it be another line of defense against COVID and variants, but it will also set an example for other vendors and show guests and your clients that you care about the health and well-being of everyone in attendance.


Spacing will continue to be key. Make sure your clients are mindful of how they seat guests and try to leave a bit more space than you usually would in between tables.

allseated floorplan

How can the wedding layout of the event help? Please share any ideas on how to create a socially distanced reception.


A socially distanced reception can be difficult to maintain. It’s even more difficult to maintain after guests have imbibed in a cocktail or two (or ten). If you are worried about guests mingling without masks, one idea is to skip cocktail hour and go straight to seating for dinner. Or, plan for smaller tables and a larger quantity of them. Try to spread your tables out as far as your venue allows. Also, consider sitting households and friend groups together since they are already in regular contact with each other.


When it comes to the bar or even the bathroom, you can create distance markers on the floor to help prevent groups from congregating together.  Be creative! They can still look attractive and fit into your design aesthetic.


How can pros keep guests comfortable being outdoors in colder weather?


Work with your local rental company early to rent a tent, sidewalls, and most importantly, heaters! These will be key in guest comfort, from mushroom or pyramid heaters to others that can pump heat in from under the walls.


Consider a hand warmer bar! If you truly are expecting very cold temperatures, these warmers will keep guests comfortable. They are inexpensive and work very well for outdoor cold and/or windy ceremonies as well! You could even have them customized with your names, wedding date, or monogram.


Welcome guests with a warm drink, alcoholic or not; it adds a special touch to the day.  You can serve spiced cider, a Hot Toddy bar, or even hot chocolate (with Schnapps!). The beverage will keep your guest’s hands warm, and after a few, they are less likely to notice the cold!


Are there any other ideas you would like to leave with us?

Be prepared for the weather…and then embrace it! If it’s raining, rent fab umbrellas! Warm? Provide guests with personalized water for your wedding. Breezy? Design the reception with blankets hanging off each chair.


We hope that these tips and tricks help you to enter the winter wedding season with the confidence to direct your clients to safe ways to execute an outdoor event despite cooler temperatures.