2023’s Best Cities for Outdoor Weddings

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

Which cities are best for throwing al fresco nuptials?

We’ve got you covered with 2023’s Best Cities for Outdoor Weddings.

With the outdoor wedding season finally here, Lawn Love compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on eight categories. We looked at the quality of outdoor wedding venues, access to wedding planners, and sunshine, among 36 total metrics.

Plan a beautiful ceremony in the great outdoors with the help of our rankings below. To learn how we ranked the cities, see our methodology.

In this article

City rankings + infographic

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for some metrics above.

Top 5 close up

Check out the slideshow below for a look at some of the highlights and lowlights from each of our top five cities.

A city filled with trees and colorful mid-rise buildings surrounded by water.
No. 1: Charleston, South Carolina | Overall score: 51.71

Venue Access: 1
Venue Quality: 45
Affordability: 175
Wedding Look: 11
Accommodations: 6

Local tips: Conveniently located downtown, the historic Gadsden House features three private courtyards for a stunning outdoor ceremony. Cannon Green is another downtown venue with a lush outdoor courtyard and exquisite culinary options.

Photo credit: GPA Photo Archive | Flickr | Public Domain
A street drives through the center of a city filled with skyscrapers and mid-rise buildings on a cloudy day.
No. 2: Fort Lauderdale, Florida | Overall score: 51.35

Venue Access: 10
Venue Quality: 119
Professional Services: 1
Wedding Look: 5
Accommodations: 3

Local tips: Get married by the sea with the convenience of hotel accommodations at Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach. In the nearby town of Davie, you can exchange your vows under the canopy of a banyan tree at Flamingo Gardens.

Photo credit: Kelly | Pexels | Pexels License
Skyscrapers reflect in the lake during a pink sunset in Orlando.
No. 3: Orlando, Florida | Overall score: 48.10

Venue Access: 12
Affordability: 153
Wedding Look: 3
Accommodations: 1
Climate: 110

Local tips: Have an unforgettable wedding day with gorgeous gardens and lakefront scenery at The Cottage on Lake Fairview. Plan a rustic ceremony at Wanderlust Okto — minutes from the airport — featuring a tranquil pond and abundant natural space with wildlife.
 
Photo credit: M-DESIGNZ | Pexels | Pexels License
Lights shine from buildings in downtown Savannah, reflecting on the water as night begins to fall.
No. 4: Savannah, Georgia | Overall score: 47.33

Venue Access: 2
Affordability: 170
Wedding Look: 15
Accommodations: 2
Climate: 186

Local tips: Get married in the largest private gardens within Savannah’s Historic District at Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum. Plan your event on an expansive campus with an on-site chapel at Bethesda Academy.

Photo credit: Nkon21 | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
People stroll and bike under the palm trees along the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk.
No. 5: Hollywood, Florida | Overall score: 46.93

Venue Quality: 30
Affordability: 66
Professional Services: 5
Reception Needs: 11
Accommodations: 4

Local tips: Celebrate your love on the beach by planning an oceanfront wedding at the Diplomat Beach Resort, which offers packages for Indian weddings and kosher events. Another oceanside option is Hollywood Beach Marriott

Photo credit: Tamanoeconomico | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Save the data: Key insights

The gist

Several cities in Florida and California shine at the top, with plenty of access to venues and wedding-related services. These cities stand alongside dreamy destinations like Charleston, South Carolina (No. 1), Savannah, Georgia (No. 4), and New Orleans (No. 10). 

Some smaller cities and suburbs are not so great for nature-themed nuptials, such as Miramar, Florida (No. 197), Newark, New Jersey (No. 198), and North Las Vegas, Nevada (No. 199), alongside West Valley City, Utah, in last place. These cities generally lack Venue Access, high Venue Quality, Accommodations, and Wedding Look resources. 

Standout stats

Darling destinations: Vow your love in charming Charleston (No. 1), which has the best Venue Access for outdoor weddings, followed by Savannah (No. 4), Honolulu (No. 15), New Orleans (No. 10), St. Louis (No. 14), and Las Vegas (No. 13). 

Sunny ceremonies: Unsurprisingly, California cities have the best climate for saying “I do” outdoors. While Pasadena (No. 6), Escondido (No. 8), and Glendale (No. 9) fare well overall, some Golden State cities like Modesto (No. 191) and Fremont (No. 185) land near the bottom due to lack of venues, yard space, parks, and accommodations. 

Urban processions: While Salt Lake City (No. 18) toasts at the top with the fourth-highest number of outdoor wedding venues per 100,000 residents, its suburb West Valley City finishes at No. 200 overall due to a lack of venues, wedding planners, bridal shops, and accommodations, among other resources. 

Admirable, affordable altars: Grand Prairie, Texas (No. 35), takes first place in Venue Quality, followed by Denton, Texas (No. 16) and Thornton, Colorado (No. 21). Along with high rankings in Affordability, each of these cities offers award-winning outdoor venues, too. 

Peaceful planning: Fort Lauderdale, Florida (No. 2), boasts the best access to Professional Services, with the most wedding planners per 100,000 residents. Pasadena, California, stands out with plenty of both planners and officiants, as well as the most photographers, videographers, and wedding bands per 100,000 residents.

Backyard bridal: With plenty of yard space, Southeastern cities are the best for throwing a backyard bash. Macon, Georgia (No. 80), has the highest average yard square footage, followed by Tennessee cities Clarksville (No. 131) and Knoxville (No. 33). 

Expert take

From estimating weather conditions to applying for permits, planning an outdoor wedding ceremony comes with a set of unique challenges. 

To help couples navigate the process, we turned to a panel of industry experts for advice. Unveil their insights below. 

  1. What are the top five types of outdoor wedding venues?
  2. What are the five most important considerations when planning an outdoor wedding?
  3. What outdoor wedding trends can couples expect this year?
  4. 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)?
  5. 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

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 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)?

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.

What are your 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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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)

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.

Behind the ranking

First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to the Best Cities for Outdoor Weddings. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into eight categories: Venue Access, Venue Quality, Affordability, Professional Services, Reception Needs, Wedding Look, Accommodations, and Climate. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table.

Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each city to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A city’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 200).

Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 200 due to ties.

Sources

Eventbrite, The Knot, LawnStarter, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Numbeo, TripAdvisor, Trust for Public Land, Yelp, and Zola

Final thoughts: Get hitched at home

You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars or go into debt to get married. Backyard weddings can be a beautiful experience for celebrating your love surrounded by friends and family. With your savings on venue costs, you can transform your backyard into an oasis of love. 

Tying the knot outside takes a lot of time for research and preparation, though. If you’re planning a backyard ceremony, check out our ideas for sprucing up your space below:

Still planning your bachelor(ette) celebrations? Check out our city rankings for Bachelor Parties and Bachelorette Destinations. Map out your itinerary with insights from our survey on Bachelor(ette) Party Trends

Media resources

Main photo credit: Shutterstock

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.