Wedding Etiquette Forum

Temperature limits for outdoor ceremony/cocktail hour

I need some objective thoughts on an outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour, and what temperature limits you think would necessitate moving to our indoor Plan B.

Background:  Our ceremony is planned for 4pm the first weekend of October in MA.  It's outdoors in a garden adjacent to our indoor reception venue.  Ceremony will be short-ish (~20-25 mins), followed by a cocktail hour in the garden.  There are trees/shady areas to sit, but no actual tent.  We have a complete Plan B inside the venue in case of inclement weather.

My question is, what temperature would it need to get down or up to for you to absolutely NOT want to be outside for almost 2 hours?  New England weather is unpredictable so it could be 35F and snowing or 85F and hot.  I'm hoping for the average 65-70F, but that's about all I can do.

Obviously if there is any precipitation or extreme temps it will be moved inside, but... would under 60F be the "cold" limit?  Over 80 for hot?  I want to set some limits so we know the game plan if the weather ends up sucking.  

Just need your honest and expert opinions, Knotties.  Gracias.



Re: Temperature limits for outdoor ceremony/cocktail hour

  • I think a lot of this depends not just on temp, but on humidity, cloud cover, and where your guests are from. 

    So high 70s with no humidity and some cloud cover doesn't bother me at all. But high 70s with high humidity and full sun/no shade is miserable.

    When I say "where your guests are from", I mean if your guests are southerners, they probably won't be bothered by higher temps, but they might be freezing if it's 60. Northerners might think 60s feels good, but they're really uncomfortable if it's in the 80s. KWIM?

    So this doesn't give you a hardline answer, but with the weather, it's really a judgement call. And making a conservative judgement call when it comes to people's comfort, IMHO, is better.
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    Maggie0829PrettyGirlLostnovella1186Jen4948
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I think 70 would be the coldest I would want to be outside for 2 hours.

    85 for the hottest as long as there is shade around.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • Once you decide on temperatures, you're going to have to decide on a timeline.  "If the weather channel calls for these temperatures or precipitation 48 hours out, we're going with plan B."  Or can your venue work with 24 hours notice?  I think it might be less stressful if you just know as early as possible.  "Well, we're still 2 days out, and the temps scheduled for Saturday are right on the border of being acceptably in our range.  I'd rather not sweat, and I'd rather know now that I won't be sweating, so I'm calling it.  Plan B it is."
  • I could deal with down to 60 or so outside, unless there were heaters.  Hottest?  75 or 80, depending on if there's shade or not.  I hate hot weather.
    Married 9.12.15
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  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I agree with southernbelle.  It isn't just about the temperature.  You have to consider the humidity, whether it is full sun, cloud cover, etc.  And also where most of your guests are from.  

    I live in MD and I would say about 65 is the lowest I would go for standing around outside for 2 hours.  But then again, if I knew the ceremony and cocktail hour were outside I would come prepared with the proper coat/shawl if it was cooler then 65 so that I would be comfortable.  As for the hottest temperature, I would say about 80.  But then again if there is zero humidity and a nice breeze blowing I could probably even go up to 85 and be fine.

    In the end you just have to make a judgement call the days leading up to your wedding.  Also make sure it is stated somewhere on maybe an insert in your invite package and/or on your website that states that the ceremony and cocktail hour will be outside so your guests can dress accordingly.

    PrettyGirlLost
  • Follow up questions.... can you make the call the day of? Or do you have to make it in advance? Could you do the ceremony outside and cocktail hour inside?

    I guess my advice would be that if you are on the fence, move to Plan B. 
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    [Deleted User]PrettyGirlLost
  • Thanks for all of the advice, ladies!  Yes, definitely important to consider the humidity and cloud cover, thank you for bringing that up.  It can make the actual temperature feel very different, so that's a great point.  

    The vast majority of our guest list is from New England... I think we only have a few friends on the whole list of ~200 that aren't from here or live here.  That said, I know everyone takes to temperature differently so we try to be conservative.  My FI HATES the heat while it doesn't bother me very much, so I know it's best to err on the side of caution.


    Follow up questions.... can you make the call the day of? Or do you have to make it in advance? Could you do the ceremony outside and cocktail hour inside?

    I guess my advice would be that if you are on the fence, move to Plan B. 
    ***BOXES***

    I think 24-hour notice is best for everyone's sanity, but day-of is possible.  The venue manager said that if the weather is predicting a wash-out a couple days ahead, it's obvious to just go with Plan B.  If it's back and forth, we can wait a little.  Our set-up is pretty simple (chairs, very few decorations, cocktail tables, bar - no major floral installations or anything like that) so we can move it inside that morning if need be.

    I also considered having the cocktail hour inside and just the ceremony outdoors if the temp is really on the line... like 60-65 or 80-ish.  Then guests will only be out there for 30-40 mins and it may not be as bad...?





  • In the end you just have to make a judgement call the days leading up to your wedding.  Also make sure it is stated somewhere on maybe an insert in your invite package and/or on your website that states that the ceremony and cocktail hour will be outside so your guests can dress accordingly.
    ***BOXES***
    The info is prominently on our website, explaining the locations and that everything will be inside in case of inclement weather.  I also mentioned that the outdoor portion is on a lawn and brick patio so people are prepared footwear-wise (though I didn't actually mention anything about shoes or dresscode).




    Maggie0829SP29
  • LD1970LD1970 member
    Eighth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    We were planning for an outdoor ceremony and indoor cocktail hour & reception, but my wedding was the last weekend in March in NJ, so I knew it was iffy & made sure we picked a venue with a pretty indoor ceremony room "just in case."  The ceremony was 20 minutes, but I knew that people would be out there longer than that.

    I had a rule that if it was under 60-something (also depending on sun/clouds, etc), we'd move indoors.  That day, it was 55 & I made them move everything indoors.  I knew I'd be fine in my 400 lb dress & the adrenaline going, but I wasn't about to do that to my guests.  I pissed off the venue with it, but tough shit for them.  Guests first.

    My sister's ceremony was outdoors, July 2003, and it was hot.  We were in navy floor length gowns, and I think it was close to 90.  Everyone seemed fine, but had it been me, I probably would have moved indoors by then.
    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. ~Mae West
    frenchiekin
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I think a lot of this depends not just on temp, but on humidity, cloud cover, and where your guests are from. 

    So high 70s with no humidity and some cloud cover doesn't bother me at all. But high 70s with high humidity and full sun/no shade is miserable.

    When I say "where your guests are from", I mean if your guests are southerners, they probably won't be bothered by higher temps, but they might be freezing if it's 60. Northerners might think 60s feels good, but they're really uncomfortable if it's in the 80s. KWIM?

    So this doesn't give you a hardline answer, but with the weather, it's really a judgement call. And making a conservative judgement call when it comes to people's comfort, IMHO, is better.
    This.

    Barring humidity I can stand being outside, in the shade, up to 80 degrees for 30mins.  I wouyldn't want to be dressed nicely for your wedding and stuck outside, sweating for both your ceremony and then a full hour on top of that.

    If it's humid, I'm not going to want to be outside for any period of time at all if the temperature is between 65-80 degrees.  Bring on the AC!

    I'm comfortable outside for extended periods in temps as low as 60 degrees, 55 degrees if I have a sweater.  Lower than 55 degrees and bring on the indoor heat!

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • I would say it depends. I would say 18*C which is about 64*F and high end 28*C which is about 82*F.

    Where we are (Southern Ontario) during that week, it's been 30*C with 100% humidity, about 95*F (88*F + humidex). It's also been -5*C (23*F) so I would do what the above posters have suggested and check a couple of days out and make your decision then.


  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Thanks for all of the advice, ladies!  Yes, definitely important to consider the humidity and cloud cover, thank you for bringing that up.  It can make the actual temperature feel very different, so that's a great point.  

    The vast majority of our guest list is from New England... I think we only have a few friends on the whole list of ~200 that aren't from here or live here.  That said, I know everyone takes to temperature differently so we try to be conservative.  My FI HATES the heat while it doesn't bother me very much, so I know it's best to err on the side of caution.


    Follow up questions.... can you make the call the day of? Or do you have to make it in advance? Could you do the ceremony outside and cocktail hour inside?

    I guess my advice would be that if you are on the fence, move to Plan B. 
    ***BOXES***

    I think 24-hour notice is best for everyone's sanity, but day-of is possible.  The venue manager said that if the weather is predicting a wash-out a couple days ahead, it's obvious to just go with Plan B.  If it's back and forth, we can wait a little.  Our set-up is pretty simple (chairs, very few decorations, cocktail tables, bar - no major floral installations or anything like that) so we can move it inside that morning if need be.

    I also considered having the cocktail hour inside and just the ceremony outdoors if the temp is really on the line... like 60-65 or 80-ish.  Then guests will only be out there for 30-40 mins and it may not be as bad...?


    I think that is a pretty decent compromise.  If it is cooler yet sunny you could still have some high top tables set up out on the lawn so that if any guests want to stay outside they at least have a place to put down their glass and to mingle around during cocktail hour.  And that way you are leaving it up to them as to whether or not they stay inside or go outside.

    frenchiekinPrettyGirlLost
  • Just to also give you something to think about - especially since you say your FI can't stand heat - you will presumably be in a gown (possibly a bit heavy depending on how formal) and your FI will be in some sort of formal wear or other dress clothes.  Being outside in a sundress or capris or shorts and a t-shirt is a LOT different than being outside in formal clothing.  That's going to make what might seem like a very reasonable 75 degrees feel like a lot warmer.

    Today the temp is 77 - I'm in jean capris and a 3/4 length t-shirt.  I'm good in the shade and there's no humidity and a nice breeze.  But I certainly wouldn't want to spend hours in it without some shade and I definitely would not go any hotter than that - I spent a good part of my day in the shade today and it was great, but limited my time in the sun.  Admittedly, I also do not much care for the heat or sun - I have a friend who thinks anything below 80 is chilly, but she's also originally from TX.
    SP29PrettyGirlLost
  • jacques27 said:
    Just to also give you something to think about - especially since you say your FI can't stand heat - you will presumably be in a gown (possibly a bit heavy depending on how formal) and your FI will be in some sort of formal wear or other dress clothes.  Being outside in a sundress or capris or shorts and a t-shirt is a LOT different than being outside in formal clothing.  That's going to make what might seem like a very reasonable 75 degrees feel like a lot warmer.

    Today the temp is 77 - I'm in jean capris and a 3/4 length t-shirt.  I'm good in the shade and there's no humidity and a nice breeze.  But I certainly wouldn't want to spend hours in it without some shade and I definitely would not go any hotter than that - I spent a good part of my day in the shade today and it was great, but limited my time in the sun.  Admittedly, I also do not much care for the heat or sun - I have a friend who thinks anything below 80 is chilly, but she's also originally from TX.
    That's a great point.  My gown is fairly heavy (silk satin, big trumpet skirt, train) and the guys will be in dark suits.  While 80 might be comfortable for me personally in a sundress or even a cocktail dress, I could be dying in my wedding gown in that temp.  Another great reason to be more conservative than I normally would be!


  • definitely depends.  We had an outdoor ceremony at 6pm in June (Northern CA).  All week it was going to be in the high 80s/low 90s which is not bad for our area.  Well day before it spiked to 100+.  My venue was awesome and had bottled water for the guests when they arrived plus had fans and parasols.  The ceremony site was somewhat shaded, but the heat was there.  We kept the ceremony outside.  It didn't matter to me, but venue did not think it was an issue so I went with their recommendation.  When we met with the reverend to sign the marriage certificate (he did it prior to the actual ceremony) we agreed to get down the aisle and back ASAP.  The temp read 99 when I was waiting to walk down the aisle.  Our ceremony was 14 minutes from the processional to recessional.  No one complained.  By 6:30 there was much more of a nice breeze.  Pictures outside were fine.  Cocktails were outside but in more of a shaded area, plus they opened the indoor venue so people could go inside if they'd like.  The reception was indoors.  When people talk about my wedding, they remember it was hot but it was manageable. 

    I know the next day it was ridiculously hot, like 117 and they for sure had the entire wedding indoors.
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  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    If you kept the cocktail hour outside, would your guests have access to somewhere indoors with chairs? That could be another option- allow guests to move in or out.

    I think having the ceremony outside and cocktail hour inside is also a nice compromise.

    I could do a low of 60F and a high of 80, MAYBE 85, depending on humidity.

    I agree that wearing formal wear makes a big difference. Men in suits, women getting their thighs stuck together because they are wearing a dress.

    Cold is almost a bit easier, as guests can bring jackets. You can't take off your clothes if it gets too hot! (Well, you *can* ;) )
    frenchiekinPrettyGirlLost
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