How to plan an outdoor wedding ceremony in Oregon

May 4, 2022

Those of us who are lucky enough to call Oregon home would agree that we don’t fall short of beautiful outdoor venues to host wedding ceremonies. From our beaches, to our mountain tops, Oregon has it all. However, planning an outdoor Oregon wedding ceremony doesn’t come without some logistical planning. Firstly, we wouldn’t be blessed with all of our lush green forests if it wasn’t for all the … dare I say it.. RAIN. The unpredictability around precipitation in Oregon can leave couples feeling apprehensive about planning their dream outdoor wedding. But as any true Oregonian would tell you, you just have to embrace the rain.

Secondly our dreamy spring and summers, If you plan accordingly, you can truly catch the most breathtaking light during your wedding ceremony. On the flip-side, if you don’t pick the perfect time to tie the knot, you may be left with harsh afternoon light. 

So what time of day is best for your outdoor ceremony in Oregon?

When we break it down, It really comes down to three factors:
1. Time of year
2. Time of day
3. Location

It might take a little extra planning but if you factor in all three of these, you will for sure catch the best light for your ceremony! Let’s dive in.

What time of year should you plan to have your ceremony in Oregon?

Due to Oregon fairly mild climate, I would say you’re able to choose between 3 out of 4 of the seasons to plan your outdoor wedding ceremony. Each season comes with it’s own unique vibe and weather characteristics. Spring offers lush new growth, summer sunsets really show off and our fall season is cozy and romantic. While there’s something special about each season, what’s important is deciding which is right for you and what you envision for your wedding day. Let’s break down each season a bit.

Spring Weddings in Oregon:

Spring is a beautiful time of year in Oregon, we have the most flowers blooming in the spring, lush greens and crisp cool air. And probably the most unpredictable weather this time of year. Temperatures rise from the 50s in March to 60’s and 70’s in May and along with that we have less downpours and more spring showers. I would say a spring outdoor wedding ceremony is for a more adventurous, roll with the punches type of couple. Folks who decide to get married in the spring are ready to embrace the weather or at the very least have planned enough to have a plan b!

Having a backup plan if your planning an outdoor spring wedding ceremony is crucial. Think about renting a tent, asking your venue if they have a rain plan or just having a backup location in your pocket just in case. OR, embrace the chaos baby (and ask your guests to do the same), makeout in the rain, it’s good luck. Bonus perk to getting married in the spring; venue rentals & vendor costs are typically much lower in the spring than in the summer. 

Summer Wedding in Oregon:

Summer is hands down the most popular wedding season in Oregon. With good reason, It’s the season of sunshine, long warm evenings and cool comfortable nights. That being said, outdoor ceremonies also have their challenges. Imagine this, it’s a hot summer afternoon, you planned your ceremony for 4pm. Not only are you standing in front of the love of your life, uncomfortable, sweating in places you didn’t think you could sweat from. But one of you is standing with your back to the hot summer sun, with your face in the shade, but the other will be in direct sun, squinting and sweating their way through the ceremony. Not ideal. 

Fall Weddings in Oregon:

Fall in Oregon is nothing short of cozy and romantic. This may surprise you but Oregon’s overcast fall weather is an ideal lighting scenario. Soft, flat light is flattering and moody. The colorful PNW foliage is a beautiful contrast to the cloudy afternoons. While there is a chance of rain in the fall, you will more than likely get crisp cool air and a mix of sunshine and cloudy skies. Should you still have a backup plan? Sure! But if a romantic backdrop of fall foliage is calling your name, embrace it. Also, similarly to spring you may find that vendors and venues offer discounted rates in the fall.

What time should my outdoor wedding ceremony start?

Before you slap a 4pm ceremony start time on your wedding invites, consider the lighting at that time of day, during that time of year, in that location. Here are some helpful tips:

A super helpful tool that I use when planning your outdoor Oregon wedding ceremony is this sunrise and sunset calculator. This will come in handy to figure out when the sun will rise, set and at what angle it will be in relation to your ceremony.

Secondly, ask your coordinator and photographer what they think! Your photographer should be able to lend a hand in the lighting department. They will give you the best advice for what time of day will produce the best photos of your ceremony. Your venue coordinator is another great resource. They have seen a lot of couples get married at their venue and should be able to give you an idea of when the best time to hold your ceremony is.

Location, Location, Location:

Sometimes we don’t have a ton of control around our ceremony time. Venue restrictions, time restraints etc. It happens. What you can have a bit more control of is the location of the actual wedding ceremony in relation to the sun at that time of day. Understanding how the sun will fall on you at that exact time of day is key. Again, the sun calculator tool will come in handy here.
For example, If you are getting married in the middle of a hot July afternoon, consider having your ceremony under a giant tree that blocks the sun and will cast a shadow over you and your guests.

My biggest piece of advice, go visit your ceremony site on a day that will have the same sunup and sun down times, prior to setting your ceremony time. Try for the same month, the year before, but a year to the day would be even better! This will give you the best idea of what you can expect and you can make any changes in advance. I recommend my clients do this and take some snaps of any ceremony location spots that stick out to them. They can send the photos my way so we can brainstorm the best time of day.

I hope this article was helpful and shined some light (no pun intended) on how to choose the best time of day for your outdoor wedding. If you’re looking for some great outdoor wedding venues be sure to check out this blog post where I list my top outdoor wedding venues in Oregon.

Planning an outdoor elopement in Oregon? Let me help ya with that! Check out my elopement resources, pricing info and some of my past elopement photography work here!

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