The natural beauty of the Outer Banks is perhaps the biggest draw for couples as they begin planning their wedding day. From ever-popular seaside ceremonies to nuptials held at historic sites or in the midst of a romantic maritime forest, the options are virtually endless. An outdoor wedding that highlights the beauty of this area means that you can be endlessly creative with your décor – whether you love the glamorous look or prefer a less-is-more approach.
When it comes to planning, the best place to start is with basic questions such as what your budget is, your anticipated guest count, the style you want to achieve, and what your ideal location will be. From there, you can begin to brainstorm ways to bring your natural surroundings to life with unique design elements that will create a truly personal and memorable experience.
No matter what route you choose to take, a trend that never seems to go out of style is to use tented layouts to encourage a romantic and intimate feel without sacrificing your access to the great outdoors. And if you like the idea of setting aside a comparable space for your nuptials, but want to go in a more minimalist direction, consider using structures such as canopies, chuppahs, or arbors that highlight sacred areas such as the ceremonial spot where you’ll finally say “I do.”
Canopies, Chuppahs, and Arbors
Sharing your vows underneath the defined space of a decorated canopy, chuppah, or an arbor is a wonderfully romantic way to begin your life together that draws on traditions dating back to biblical times. In Judaism, a traditional chuppah (which translates from Hebrew to the more secular “canopy”) consists of a prayer shawl or other type of cloth attached to four poles that is held over the betrothed to symbolize the couple’s future home.
This increasingly popular type of structure is amazingly versatile and can range aesthetically from the more orthodox look of chuppahs to ornate canopies that resemble festive gazebos. Wedding arbors also act as similar archways, but are typically more open structures that often utilize interwoven lattices to define a point of entry marking the couple’s new journey together.
Once you’ve picked a style that you like, check with local rental companies to see what they offer, or work with a professional to construct something completely original. You can even make one yourself using natural elements such as driftwood or bamboo, or purchase a kit online for maximum DIY ease.
When it comes to personalizing the design of your canopy, chuppah, or arbor, remember that the sky’s the limit. Lush floral frames are always popular, but you can also incorporate greenery and other decorative touches such as lengths of ribbon or sheer fabric draped to catch the breeze. Accenting almost any display is fun and easy with any number of gorgeous garlands as well. Use transparent fishing line to string together everything from seashells and starfish to paper flowers and streamers. Depending on the time of day, you may also add strings of lights or hang paper lanterns in a variety of colors to cast a fairy-tale glow over your first wedded kiss!
Taking Cover with Tents
Weather can be unpredictable on the Outer Banks – particularly when it comes to wind and rain – so using a larger tented layout for your outdoor ceremony can be a practical move. Practical purposes aside, there are a wide variety of tents to choose from that will suit any style. Clear-topped tents allow light to stream through while still providing some protection. Others feature elegant details such as cathedral or French-style windows. Some are structured more like large canopies.
One of the hottest new decorating trends is for couples to incorporate more creative seating plans inside tented receptions. Forget about using only large round tables and mix it up by having long, rectangular tables interspersed with cocktail tables that will encourage everyone to move around comfortably. Depending on the size of your venue, you may consider using one grand tent for the main celebrations while also adding other smaller tents to cover everything from walkways and entrances to cushioned lounge areas where guests can gather in more casual, private settings.
No matter the size, tents are great for adding lighting and other dramatic details to your outdoor event. Creative use of fabrics is key here. Classic, full-pleated tent liners are always in demand and provide a wonderfully romantic look with lights placed behind them. Swags and drapes also contribute to an intimate atmosphere and add dimension to any space, particularly when combined with eye-catching hurricane lanterns, chandeliers, or pendant lights with small bare bulbs. If your tent has interior poles, you can cover them with matching fabrics or embrace them, accentuating the space by wrapping them in rope or strands of twinkling lights.
Think about adding texture with organic fabrics and elegant sheers, or introduce wood accents for a clean, rustic look. Your choice of colors can also bring your overall theme together. Shades of green or blue can always be used to evoke your natural island surroundings. If you prefer something more dramatic, you can combine lighter hues with bright colors such as fuchsia for a fresh, vibrant look. For a more classic approach, consider pairing neutrals like cream and white with metallic accents such as rose gold to add a glamorous luster that works particularly well with the soft illumination of an evening affair.
One word of caution: Rules and regulations regarding tents vary from town to town. Some require permits, fees, and/or have size restrictions for erecting tents on the beach, so it’s best to call ahead and find out what the town requires. Event and rental homes can also have similar requirements that you’ll need to be aware of in advance, so you’ll want to check with your property management company if you’re planning to conduct your ceremony on your rental property. If you’re short on time, or you’d just prefer to let someone else handle these logistics, consider working with a local wedding planner who can help negotiate the ins and outs of various venues well before your big day.
Light it Up!
Whether you are looking for an elegant touch, a rustic tone or a romantic and sophisticated feel, lighting up your reception and ceremony venues can help set the stage on your special day. Creative lighting can also help your photographer get those perfect shots you will cherish for years.
Consider floating lanterns, sparking backdrops, elegant chandeliers and lighted pathways to set the mood and add warmth to your wedding day. Lighting around the perimeter of your venue can help to create an intimate setting. Colored or bolder lights will surely help in setting the tone for a festive reception. Fairy lights around trees and bushes can create a wonderful canopy effect and overhead candles can add a soft touch.
Don’t forget! The Décor is in the Details
Many tent rental companies also offer a full range of other services, providing everything from tables and chairs to linens. Be sure to do your research ahead of time depending on your needs. And remember that once you’ve customized the spatial arrangements of your ceremony, there are still plenty of ways to accentuate your overall vision with other island-inspired finishing touches. Think tiki torches, seashell bouquets or message in the bottle table toppers. You could even consider ditching confetti in favor of a beach ball toss while you celebrate on the sand.
But just because you’re at the beach, not every detail has to make a nautical statement. Other destinations may also have a special place in your heart, so embrace that when thinking about your décor. Celebrate your Paris engagement with bistro-style signs, or if you share an alma mater, show your school spirit by giving guests pompoms in your school colors to wave as they cheer on your first kiss. Every wedding has its own flavor, so don’t be afraid to take risks as you set the stage for an event you’ll never forget! ♥