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A Wedding Planner’s Guide to Choosing Between an Indoor or Outdoor Wedding Reception? 

Planning Tips

June 14, 2022

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 Welcome to the Soiree 99 blog, a journal about all things hosting, design, wedding planning and anything else that makes my heart flutter.

Hi, I'm BRITTANY.

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All the Considerations and Facts You Need to Decide

Is an indoor or outdoor wedding reception better?

Like almost every wedding planning question that I get, the answer is–it depends.  

For every bride you find who is passionate about an outdoor reception, you’ll find one that wouldn’t consider anything but an indoor one. 

Basically, you have to consider external factors like where you are getting married, when the wedding is, and your venue options, as well as internal ones like the amount of uncertainty you can handle and what aesthetic you are looking for. 

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Should You Have an Indoor or Outdoor Wedding Reception?

Indoor or Outdoor Wedding Reception

Indoor Reception Pros

Overall, indoor receptions are easier to plan. This is definitely a positive point of having an indoor reception. There are rarely any unknowns. You don’t have to worry about the weather and you know exactly where everything is going to go. There are fewer moving parts. 

Also, if you pick a beautiful indoor venue, you can get by with doing less and spending less on decor. Some indoor spaces are so well designed, that you don’t have to invest in decor like you would the more sparse, or outdoor, locations. 

Given the season and the space, indoor receptions can feel intimate and cozy, especially in the winter in Montana, just my personal opinion (re: this is my push for more winter weddings please!)

Photography: Orange Photographie

Outdoor Reception Pros

I have to admit, I am generally biased towards outdoor receptions because of the natural beauty of Montana. Having an outdoor wedding in a naturally gorgeous place is always a plus in my mind.  

There is nothing more relaxing and unifying than fresh air, twinkle lights, and the wilderness spread out before you…all while celebrating with your favorite people.

Outdoor receptions say a lot about the personality of a couple and are generally just a ton of fun. 

Indoor or outdoor wedding reception
Photography: Orange Photographie

Indoor Reception Cons

Generally, one of the biggest negatives with indoor receptions is that they can severely limit the view of your surroundings. When you get married, specifically in places like Montana, you want to play off the wide-open expanses. And having an indoor reception can really change this dynamic. It can feel closed in. 

In the same breath, you do have to be careful when picking an indoor reception venue and know that it still has the ability to be transformed into your dream space. 

Outdoor Reception Cons

While outdoor receptions are my personal favorite, they do come with quite a few caveats. 

Outdoor receptions are not ideal for crazy weather and can cause some last-minute scrambling if the forecast changes. This can make things a bit more stressful and add a bit more work for sure. 

Past the dreaded rain forecast, you also have to consider temperature when having an outside wedding. Will it be too cold (you’ll need heaters!) or will it be hot and muggy (you’ll need fans and maybe bug spray)? You know I am all about designing the wedding of YOUR dreams…. But you do need to consider your guests and their comfort.

In general, outdoor receptions are more expensive than indoor ones, especially if you are renting a tent. In most cases, you are still paying the venue for using their space and have to rent a tent, the chairs and tables, and all the decor. 

Photography by Jacylyn M

Considerations

Now that we have gone through the basic pro/con list, here are a few considerations to look at when deciding whether an indoor or outdoor wedding reception is a good idea. 

If you are going to have an outdoor reception, a tent is always a good idea.

If you are averse to tents, you may want to reconsider unless you have a good indoor option. This leads me to the next point…..

You also want to have a good indoor location option if you are planning an outdoor reception.

There is some weather, while rare, that will make even a tent an impossible choice (think high winds, flooding rains, severe thunderstorms, etc). 

Think about your photos.

Do you have strong feelings about your photos having natural or artificial lighting? Look at your dream photographer’s website (who will hopefully be your photographer!) and see what type of images you are naturally attracted to.

If you love natural light images, you may want to consider having your reception outdoor. Chances are good your photographer will still have to pull out the lights at some point, but you will have more natural light options. 

If you love the look of artificial light, then an indoor reception will give you more of those types of images. 

Do you like a lot of control?

If you truly hate feeling out of control, then you may want to consider an indoor reception. No one can promise you anything when it comes to the weather on your wedding day. You can do all of your research and look at all of the statistics but let me tell you, I have seen it all from snow in July to never-before-experienced rain storms during the dry season. To have an outdoor reception, you really need to be ok with potentially pivoting last minute in case of weather. 

Consider the decor you want.

Is it better for an indoor or outdoor reception?  Remember, generally, you have more of a “blank slate” for outdoor receptions while indoor ones can be limited. This isn’t always the case, but it is an option to consider.  Really look at your decorating style and figure out what works for you! 

Indoor or Outdoor Wedding Reception
Photography by Stella K Photography

Now You Decide: Indoor or Outdoor Wedding Reception?

It may not feel like I gave you any specific answer to your question, which I really didn’t but hopefully, some of the points or suggestions sparked a strong reaction or emotion….and don’t ignore that. Take your reactions into consideration for sure. 

As for me and my team, we’ll always be team whatever-creates-your-dream-wedding but we’ll also be the voice of reason in the background, making sure you have all of the facts and the planning details meshed out.  

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I'm Brittany and I'm so happy you're here. This blog is a journal about all things hosting, design, wedding planning and anything else that makes my heart flutter.

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