What You Need for a Nighttime Outdoor Ceremony

Getting married under the stars is romantic, but is it practical?

Here are some logistics to keep in mind if you elect to have an outdoor service by the moonlight.

Photo: Amy & Stuart Photography

While a sunny day is beautiful, there has always been something romantic about the night sky. Many would think a wedding held after sunset would be inside, but alfresco ceremonies are incredibly popular these days. Whether you’re choosing to have your vow exchange after dark for religious reasons, because you simply like the look, or due to a winter wedding date and you don’t want to host your nuptials in the early afternoon, there are still logistics to keep in mind if you elect to have an outdoor service by the moonlight. 

planning tips for a nighttime outdoor ceremony

Photo by Callaway Gable; Planning & Design by Alyson Fox, Levine Fox Events; Rentals by Revelry Event Designers; Bridal Stylist by Dear Maradee

While lighting is always a great way to enhance a space at your reception, it becomes absolutely critical for a nighttime ceremony. Not only will it add to the romantic aesthetic, but it also serves an important function – for you and your guests to be able to see! Consider a canopy of twinkling lights to enhance the feeling of being under the stars. Pillar candles in hurricanes will have a beautiful effect lining your path down the aisle. Remember that not only do you need lighting at the actual site of the vow exchange, but also for your guests to get there. Go on a walk-through with your planner at the time of your intended ceremony to make sure everything is accessible – if not, create a plan to make sure it will be. 

Though normally we prefer a hard copy for the ceremony readings and vows, using a tablet could be useful in this instance because you won’t have to worry about being able to read it in the dark. You’ll also want professional, as opposed to decorative, lighting to make sure guests can see you (and your dress!) during the service. Spotlights at the base of your arbor can help without detracting too much from the décor. 

Most importantly, make sure your photographer knows from the start that this is your plan. Knowing how to light dark settings and how to shoot pictures under the night sky is an important skill that will likely even require different equipment. Ideally, you should find a photographer who has shots in their portfolio from outdoor, nighttime events to ensure your wedding photos will turn out beautifully.

For more advice, learn how to deal with a snow storm near your nuptials and get tips for planning a garden wedding.