2022’s Best Cities for Outdoor Weddings

Image showing a couple and their loved ones on the beach on their wedding day

Wedding season is on the horizon, and what better way to celebrate love during a pandemic than to exchange vows outdoors, in the open air. 

But al fresco weddings are more ideal in certain cities than in others.

To help couples plan their nuptials, Lawn Love ranked 2022’s Best Cities for Outdoor Weddings. 

In over 190 cities, we compared the number of outdoor wedding venues, the average size of yards, access to various wedding services like caterers, bridal and tuxedo shops, bakeries, and many more.

See which cities deserve a spot on your shortlist below, along with our in-depth analysis and tips from wedding industry experts. Best wishes!

In this article

  1. City rankings
  2. Results in depth
  3. Expert take
  4. Methodology
  5. Tips for setting up a backyard wedding

City rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Infographic showing the best cities for outdoor weddings, a ranking based on access to, quality, and affordability of outdoor wedding venues, professional services, reception equipment, climate, and more
Note: We ranked 191 cities for each metric shown above. However, the lowest ranking position may not be 191 for some metrics due to a significant number of ties among cities.

Results in depth

Warm reception

Dreaming of sun (and maybe sand) for your outdoor wedding? Say “I do” to California and Florida — they aren’t called the Golden and Sunshine states for no reason. Together, these states’ cities impressively make up 31 of our top 50. Los Angeles and San Diego suburbs dominate our top 10, while Florida’s southeast coastal cities lead the state.

Both states are popular for waterfront weddings, but each is stronger in one category. California outshines Florida in Climate, promising reliably good weather in many of its cities. Florida, however, can accommodate bigger wedding parties, claiming many of the top spots in the hotels metric.

You’ll be in good company in either state, but we’re biased toward San Diego (No. 20), where Lawn Love is based.

Indoor I do’s

We don’t completely object to an outdoor Southern wedding, but we’d rather speak now (about the region’s natural problems) than forever hold our peace. 

Here’s the rub: Nine of our bottom 10 cities lie in the South. This region can get really hot, humid, and rainy — sometimes all three at once — not to mention it’s prone to hurricanes between June and November. With unpredictable weather, you could find yourself in a sticky situation — literally — on a day when everything needs to go just right.

Of course, true love can weather any storm, but the last thing a bride wants is to get drenched in her wedding gown, giving new meaning to “bridal shower.” For better (or worse, depending on non-outdoor factors), it may be safer to opt for a dry (interpret that how you’d like), indoor, air-conditioned wedding celebration in the South.

From Carnival to nuptial

One particular metro area stood out in all three of our outdoor venue categories: New Orleans. It includes Metairie at No. 5 overall (and No. 2 in both access and quality and No. 1 in budget-friendly venues) and the Big Easy itself, at No. 30 overall and first place in quality. 

That’s because New Orleans isn’t just the capital of Mardi Gras — it’s a popular outdoor wedding destination, too. Traditional NOLA wedding celebrations look a lot like the city’s Carnival festivities. After the ceremony, for example, a second line parade leads the wedding party to the reception in true New Orleans fashion, complete with a dance “krewe” and marching band.

Expert take

The options for outdoor wedding venues are endless: beaches, vineyards, gardens, country clubs, mountainsides, even our own backyards. But planning an outdoor wedding comes with unique challenges. To help couples navigate the process, we turned to a panel of industry experts for advice. (Check out more tips for setting up a backyard wedding below.)

  1. What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?
  2. Most couples were forced to postpone their wedding plans during the height of the pandemic. Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting for their wedding, and, if so, where is that happening the most?
  3. What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?
  4. What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?
  5. What are the three best ways to keep guests entertained at an outdoor wedding, especially during gaps between the ceremony and reception (e.g., wedding party photo shoot)?
  6. What are your top three tips for planning an outdoor wedding?
Bron Hansboro
Owner and Lead Designer
Elise Johnson
Managing Partner & Creative Director
Natalie Sudia
Lead Planner
Christine Cleaver, M.Ed.
Assistant Professor, School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management
Maggie Daniels, PhD
Professor of Tourism and Event Management, School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management, College of Education and Human Development
Nicole Eichenwald Braghin
Managing Partner & Event Designer
Michelle Leo Cousins
Owner & Lead Designer
Chris Weinberg
Lead Wedding & Event Producer, Founder | Chief Experience Officer
Bron Hansboro
Owner and Lead Designer
The Flower Guy Bron

What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?

  1. Private Residences
  2. Gardens
  3. Tents
  4. Waterfront Properties
  5. Golf Courses

Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting?

Couples are placing a major focus on the safety of their guests, however, I am not seeing many couples change the orientation of their venue.

Couples that are generally inspired by indoor venues are spacing guests out and getting creative with floor plans to maintain a safe and weather proof event.

What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Weather Contingency
  2. Guest Comfort
  3. Vendor Logistics
  4. Seasonal impact on the surrounding foliage
  5. Privacy

What outdoor trends can couples expect this year?

Outdoor wedding trends are going to be informed by traditional venues having limited available dates. Therefore, couples are going to be forced to consider outdoor options.

The first consideration is going to be residential. More couples are starting to choose residential weddings that compliment the comfort and relaxed nature of being restricted to our homes for so long.

What are the best ways to keep guest entertained

The best way to entertain guests of outdoor weddings is to take full advantage of the entire venue. Create a progressive experience that moves guests around the property and creates highlight moments. Some great ideas are oversized games, bars, and interactive entertainment.

Top three tips for planning an outdoor wedding

  1. Reconsider outdoor wedding if you strongly dislike your backup option
  2. Keep an open mind and only try to control the factors you can
  3. Will the cost of creating an outdoor venue outweigh a more cost inclusive venue?
Elise Johnson
Managing Partner & Creative Director
Shannon Leahy Events

What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?

  1. Private homes / estates
  2. Farms
  3. Private gardens / Nature Preserves
  4. Parks & Beaches
  5. Museums, Restaurants & Hotels with outdoor spaces

Most couples were forced to postpone their wedding plans during the height of the pandemic. Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting for their wedding, and, if so, where is that happening the most?

Being based in California, outdoor events are the norm for us. Now more than ever, though, we are seeing clients prioritize outdoor space for all parts of their event.

What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Temperature control / shade & heat (this may include providing sunscreen for guests!)
  2. Rain plan backup
  3. Having a plan in place for windy conditions, and ensuring everything is properly secured, weighted down and safe.
  4. Making sure there’s adequate power & lighting
  5. Consider pest control (bees, ticks, mosquitos) and how to pretreat the area, or provide bug spray for your guests.

What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?

I think clients are really leaning into tying the natural landscape and season into their wedding design. That may mean your programs double as fans on a warm day, providing paper parasols that coordinate with the color scheme, or providing cozy blankets and pashminas for guests at an outdoor dinner.

We also love interactive elements like s’mores making kits by a fire pit on a chilly evening during the reception.

What are the three best ways to keep guests entertained at an outdoor wedding, especially during gaps between the ceremony and reception (e.g., wedding party photo shoot)?

  1. We love fun food such as “grown up” popsicles for warm weather days
  2. Live music at cocktail hour!
  3. Comfortable seating vignettes with shade

What are your top three tips for planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Check the farmer’s almanac and review the weather history on your chosen date!
  2. Turn off your sprinklers at least a day before your event so the ground isn’t soggy!
  3. Accept that you can’t control mother nature and try your best to plan for all outcomes!
Natalie Sudia
Lead Planner
A Touch of Bliss

What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?

My five favorite outdoor wedding venues include:

  1. Botanic Gardens
  2. Mountains/National Parks
  3. Venues with Outdoor Patio/Courtyard Spaces
  4. Farms/Ranches
  5. Private Residences/Backyards.

Most couples were forced to postpone their wedding plans during the height of the pandemic. Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting for their wedding, and, if so, where is that happening the most?

Colorado is such a beautiful state that many couples wanted an outdoor component to their wedding even before the pandemic. However, since the pandemic, we have noticed many couples prioritizing outdoor space in their venue searches.

What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Inclement weather backups
  2. The ease of bringing rental items into the space
  3. The ease and distance of travel to get to the outdoor space
  4. Getting the necessary permits to hold an event in the space if it is not already part of a venue, and (of course)….
  5. The view.

What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?

Some upcoming trends for outdoor weddings in 2022 include adding bold colors and disco balls to glam up the outdoors, using cottage core style for the attire and aesthetic, and anniversary receptions (where the couple already got married during the pandemic and can now celebrate with their loved ones).

What are the three best ways to keep guests entertained at an outdoor wedding, especially during gaps between the ceremony and reception (e.g., wedding party photo shoot)?

  1. Guests love interactive photo booths
  2. Yard games, animals (like llamas, burros, horses, or even reindeer) to visit and take photos with, and specialty vendors (live painters, live poets, tarot card readers, etc)
  3. And of course, amazing appetizers and signature cocktails!

What are your top three tips for planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Always have an inclement weather backup plan (tents or heaters, umbrellas or blankets for guests)
  2. Choose a location or view that is significant to you as a couple
  3. Make the space your own!
Christine Cleaver, M.Ed.
Assistant Professor, School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management
Temple University

What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?

  1. Parks
  2. Floral Gardens
  3. Wineries
  4. Farms
  5. College Campus

Most couples were forced to postpone their wedding plans during the height of the pandemic. Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting for their wedding, and, if so, where is that happening the most?

Many couples are switching to outdoor venues due to the need for additional space options, and outdoor spaces have a more flexible date and timing availability.

What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Weather
  2. Logistics – electric, bathrooms, maintenance
  3. Ceremony – seating, backdrop, noise
  4. Permits
  5. Insurance

What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?

  • The venue adds to the wedding story – first run, first date, sentimental factors.
  • Micro weddings – due to the rising supplies costs, smaller celebrations will fit budgets better.
  • Sustainability – Wedding decor purposefully selected to repurpose for the couple’s home and backyard space.
  • Non-traditional bridal attire – Attire will fit the look and feel of the venue.

What are the three best ways to keep guests entertained at an outdoor wedding, especially during gaps between the ceremony and reception (e.g., wedding party photo shoot)?

  1. Outdoor games
  2. Wine or Spirits tasting with a tasting guide.
  3. Create a nature walk showcasing the venue

What are your top three tips for planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Have a flexible mindset. Things may change quickly, and you will need to adapt.
  2. Have a backup plan. The weather now more than ever can be unpredictable. Do not let the weather dampen your plans. Have a plan B.
  3. Be open to non-traditional timing for the wedding, for example, Wednesday afternoon or evening.
Maggie Daniels, PhD
Professor of Tourism and Event Management, School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management, College of Education and Human Development
George Mason University

What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?

Based on my own research regarding the attributes that influence wedding venue selection, I have learned that the top five venue types that specialize in hosting outdoor weddings for at least a portion of the activities are most likely to include:

  1. Country clubs
  2. Historic buildings
  3. Botanical gardens
  4. Resorts
  5. Plantations.

Most couples were forced to postpone their wedding plans during the height of the pandemic. Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting for their wedding, and, if so, where is that happening the most?

The utilization of personal residences increased during the pandemic, as generally less than 5% of weddings are held at a family home.

Also common during the height of the pandemic was a micro-wedding that included immediate family members and the couple’s closest friends. Public park settings were widely used for the ceremony portion of these weddings.

Couples holding micro-weddings typically postponed their larger gatherings but did not cancel, as venues and vendors were willing to reschedule rather than refund deposits.

What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Commit to a backup plan in the case of inclement weather. Couples absolutely must have an indoor alternative should the weather not cooperate.
  2. Tented weddings offer a hybrid of outdoor-indoor and tend to be very expensive to implement.
  3. Work closely with the caterer to ensure that food is heated or cooled properly and removed promptly if the wedding will be fully outdoors. The wedding cake should be kept indoors for as long as possible to avoid collapse if the weather is warm.
  4. Ensure there is adequate access to restrooms in close proximity to the wedding activities.
  5. Assume that there will be insects and prepare accordingly to ensure the comfort of your guests.

What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?

I believe there will continue to be an uptick of outdoor weddings, primarily because so many couples postponed or delayed their events due to the pandemic that popular venues were already booked when newly engaged couples started their search.

Additionally, travel has not completely rebounded and, combined with current trends in inflation, outdoor weddings will be held closer to home, meaning that public parks that issue special use permits for weddings will increase in popularity.

What are the three best ways to keep guests entertained at an outdoor wedding, especially during gaps between the ceremony and reception (e.g., wedding party photo shoot)?

  1. Lawn games are the absolute best way to keep guests entertained during anticipated time gaps and throughout the reception. A wide variety of lawn games are available that are inexpensive to purchase, easy to set up and fun for all ages.
  2. Food and beverage stations that employ creativity and choice are an excellent way to bring guests together and keep them entertained. Food trucks are one of the best ways to employ this at an outdoor wedding, as the trucks have the necessary heating and cooling to keep the selections fresh. Three of my favorites are street taco food trucks for mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres, ice cream sundae food trucks to complement the wedding cake and coffee trucks that offer warm, cold and iced varieties.
  3. Hands-on favors are another fun option for an outdoor wedding, in particular if children are invited. Planes made from colorful paper or balsa wood can be built and put to immediate use, or guests can be given directions to build a simple origami box and directed to a candy station to fill their boxes with sweets.

What are your top three tips for planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Maintain a sense of humor. If the wedding is being planned to take place fully outdoors, there are many variables that can and will go awry.
  2. Take advantage of the landscape and views. The photography for outdoor weddings can be spectacular. Make sure that your wedding photojournalist is aware of the outdoor setting and brings the appropriate equipment to address the lighting variations that will take place throughout the day.
  3. Inform your guests. Outdoor weddings tend to be more casual, but that is not necessarily the case. Give clear guidance on your wedding website as to a suggested dress code, in particular if temporary flooring will not be installed and the activities are taking place in a grassy area.
Nicole Eichenwald Braghin
Managing Partner & Event Designer
Plan Design Events

What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?

80% of our outdoor events are at private estates which makes it that much more special. If I had to pick outdoor venues for rent I would say: Fairchild, Vizcaya, PAMM, The Kampong

Most couples were forced to postpone their wedding plans during the height of the pandemic. Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting for their wedding, and, if so, where is that happening the most?

In the beginning of the pandemic outdoor venues were very popular. Currently we see couples going back to indoor venues due to unpredictable weather in South Florida.

What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Flexibility for a plan B is the most important of all
  2. Size
  3. Accessibility
  4. Wind factor
  5. How much financial investment will be required to condition the space.

What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?

We don’t work with trends, we work with what will make the wedding stunning and personal for that individual couple. Something unique just like them.

What are the three best ways to keep guests entertained at an outdoor wedding, especially during gaps between the ceremony and reception (e.g., wedding party photo shoot)?

  1. We love specialty cocktail stations, they are delicious and something to talk about.
  2. Live entertainment like an acoustic band is always a hit.
  3. Personal and creative details that bring out the couple.

What are your top three tips for planning an outdoor wedding?

Understand your surroundings and all of their limitations. Plan for all of the unexpected possibilities – plan a, b, c, d, etc.

Michelle Leo Cousins
Owner & Lead Designer
Michelle Leo Events

What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?

In Utah I would say the following venues are in my top five: River Bottoms Ranch, 4U Ranch, St. Regis, Montage, Blue Sky Ranch

Most couples were forced to postpone their wedding plans during the height of the pandemic. Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting for their wedding, and, if so, where is that happening the most?

No, most people come to celebrate in Utah for our lovely outdoors and mountain views.

What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Having a weather backup plan is a MUST.
  2. Considering outdoor elements like how wind, hot sun, bugs etc, may impact the overall guest experience.
  3. Making sure the location is large enough for the projected headcount.
  4. Is the outdoor area easily accessible for vendors?
  5. Do you have any guests with disabilities that would struggle with an outdoor location?

What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?

Tented weddings have been and still are pretty popular. We do quite a few of them. Outdoor weddings with a view are a big hit (here in Utah we have a lot of venues that showcase the mountains, canyons, and the natural beauty of our state).

What are the three best ways to keep guests entertained at an outdoor wedding, especially during gaps between the ceremony and reception (e.g., wedding party photo shoot)?

  1. Build a timeline that doesn’t have gaps! An event should flow seamlessly from one milestone to another.

    Even if the bride and groom are consumed with photos, guests should be able to enjoy a cocktail hour with flowing beverages and yummy appetizers.

    Outdoor events offer great opportunities for activities that keep people connected such as lawn games, action stations and passed foods for a fun culinary experience, things like whiskey and wine tastings or pairings are always a big hit.

  2. Create fun seating areas with comfortable lounge furniture and provide shade if you’re celebrating in the hot months.
  3. Above all, don’t forget the entertainment! There should always be great music playing in the background (but not so loud that guests can’t engage in enjoyable conversation).
Chris Weinberg
Lead Wedding & Event Producer, Founder | Chief Experience Officer
Chris Weinberg Events

What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?

  1. Museums (Ex. Perez Art Museum Miami, Vizcaya Museum)
  2. Botanical Gardens (Ex. Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden)
  3. Private Home / Residence
  4. Resort Hotels (Ritz Carlton, Lake Oconee)
  5. Private Estates (Deering Estate, Thalatta Estate)

Most couples were forced to postpone their wedding plans during the height of the pandemic. Have you observed many couples switching from an indoor to an outdoor setting for their wedding, and, if so, where is that happening the most?

Yes, we have seen a tremendous request for outdoor weddings or switch to outdoor weddings when the original plan was to have an indoor wedding. We have pivoted to open tents in private homes, museums with outdoor spaces for dinner and dancing, and venues such as botanical gardens.

What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Having an executable rain plan, including prepaying 50% deposit to secure tents, flooring, generators, etc…
  2. Weather temperature consideration for guests comfort, including considering time of year and venue location
  3. Proper lighting for both guest safety and to set the tone, especially if guests arrive during daylight and leave wedding after dark
  4. Checking the noise ordinance where the venue is located to make sure loud music outside is allowed by code for the duration of the wedding
  5. Making sure there is enough power for the catering, entertainment, and decor needs for the wedding at the venue location or having the ability to bring in a generator.

What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?

  1. Open air tents, no walls!
  2. Hanging florals or floral chandeliers over the dance floor
  3. Detailed tablescapes, including interesting charger plates, modern flatware and colored or textured wine, water and champagne glassware
  4. Open air cocktail receptions
  5. Living centerpieces for the guest tables such as orchids, succulents and outdoor green plants that can be repurposed after the event
  6. Incorporating pets into the wedding ceremony to walk down the aisle with “Petsmaids”
  7. Disco inspired decor such as specialty drink walls using disco ball shaped drink cups with lids and straw
  8. Guest experiences that are best executed outside, such as a photo op with bubbles blowing into the wind in the backdrop; or an ax throwing station during cocktail reception.

What are the three best ways to keep guests entertained at an outdoor wedding, especially during gaps between the ceremony and reception (e.g., wedding party photo shoot)?

We at Chris Weinberg Events prefer when our clients shoot all the wedding party photos prior to ceremony and right after first look, but when that is not the case, we recommend:

  1. Have a 1 hour cocktail reception. Serve abundant cocktail food, passed and/or in stations, and have an open bar.
  2. Guest experiences such as a mixologist serving a variety of interesting drinks, or a roaming photo opportunity that moves through the guests taking photos and offering the ability to email or text them to themselves is entertaining and brings groups of guests together to mingle before dinner and dancing.
  3. Live cocktail musicians during cocktail reception

What are your top three tips for planning an outdoor wedding?

  1. Have a backup weather plan for inclement weather
  2. Make sure you can have loud music playing for the duration of dinner and dancing (check noise ordinance at the venue)
  3. Make sure you can have the power requirements vendors will need for the outdoor wedding.

Methodology

We ranked 191 of the biggest U.S. cities from best to worst (1-191) based on their overall scores (out of 100 points), averaged across the weighted metrics listed below.

Data for all metrics collected from The Knot include listings within 10 miles of the city center and from Yelp within 5 miles.

Sources

Eventbrite, The Knot, LawnStarter, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, TripAdvisor, and Zola

Tips for setting up a backyard wedding

Image showing backyard wedding reception setup

One of the cheapest and safest ways to tie the knot during the pandemic is to take it outside, and you don’t even have to go very far. Planning is key to a successful and memorable backyard wedding, but it’s easy to forget — or completely miss — key steps. 

Below, we’ve rounded up our best tips to help you check every important box before your big day.

1. Review the rules.

Local ordinances can limit the size of your guest list to maintain neighborhood peace or for other reasons like fire protection or parking availability.

Make sure to check with local authorities on any restrictions and file any necessary paperwork before sending out your invitations. The last thing you want is a fine, complaints from neighbors, or, worse, a disaster.

2. Designate areas.

Depending on the size of your yard, reserve separate spaces for the ceremony, reception, or just sitting, especially if you have elderly or disabled guests. Also make room for dancing, your DJ or band, a photo booth, and maybe even games.

If your yard lacks enough square footage, enlist people to quickly convert your space after each party phase or open rooms inside your house for overflow.

3. Set the scene.

Pick a backdrop for your ceremony. A beautiful, mature tree can lend both good looks and ample shade. You also can rent a pergola or DIY your own wedding arbor. Pinterest is a great source of decor inspiration. It’s your yard and your wedding, so be as creative as you want.

And don’t forget about lighting, especially if your wedding and reception take place partly or entirely in the evening.

4. Plan for weather.

We didn’t specify inclement weather for a reason: Even if your wedding day is filled with sunshine, you’ll need to make sure your guests are protected from sunlight and heat.

Have fans and coolers ready for hot weather and blankets and space heaters for lower temperatures. Tents are perfect for most types of weather. For harsher conditions, the inside of your house may need to serve as a backup.

5. Keep bugs away.

Have bug repellent spray and citronella candles handy if you live in a particularly buggy place. 

6. Prep and restore your lawn.

To get your yard in party shape, contact a Lawn Love pro at least a few days in advance for a quick touch-up (earlier for lawn seeding).

Once the party’s over, Lawn Love can help restore your yard to its former glory — and maintain it after the honeymoon phase.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock | Bottom Photo Credit: Ben Rosett on Unsplash

Staff Writer