10 Insider Tips for the Perfect Outdoor Wedding Reception on San Juan Island

Posted on March 5, 2019

San Juan Island, with its breathtaking beaches, parks & activity farms is the perfect place for an outdoor wedding. Imagine yourself tying the knot on the rugged cliffs next to the historic Lime Kiln Lighthouse high above the glistening Salish Sea, in the purple fields of the Pelindaba Lavender Farm or on the shell speckled beach of the serene Westcott Bay Seafood Farm. We took the liberty to compile a list of island specific insider tips, to ensure your outdoor wedding on San Juan Island will be a huge success.

  1. Make Sure Everyone Knows the Plan

Chances are, many of your guests will come from off-island and may have never been on San Juan. Provide Welcome bags to your guests, filled with an island map, your wedding itinerary, a bottle of water, a few granola bars, chocolate or mints. Add a personal touch, which speaks to your wedding theme. Pretty beach stones or sea shells for a beach wedding or a few sprigs of lavender, in case your ceremony is at the Pelindaba Lavender Farm.

Outdoor Wedding South Beach
  1. Hire the Right People for the Job

Not every wedding photographer has outdoor experience. Hire local talent, familiar with San Juan Island’s unique weather and light, and in-the-know of the most precious spots. Our two fav’s are islander Sara Parson, with her unique eye for island beauty and tender moments and the fabulous John Sinclair, with his vast body of experience.

  1. Direction is Everything

When positioning your wedding arch and guest chairs, make sure nobody, including you two, your officiant and your guests, have to look directly into the sun. Make sure your decorations are secured in case of wind.

  1. How’s Your Hair?

Your hair, once done, should be the last thing you worry about on your big day. Make sure your hair stylist provides you with a wind and humidity proof do, fit for an island wedding. Tell the good folks at Island Roots to make it so

Outdoor Wedding Bonfire
  1. Layers, Layers, Layers

San Juan Island sits in the Olympic Rain Shadow and enjoys over 247 sunny days per year. Being surrounded by the glistening Salish Sea makes our Summers pleasant and temperate, with cool nights. And… as soon as the sun goes down, it can get chilly, quickly. Make sure you and your guests are prepared to stay warm with coats and blankets or a bonfire when you bring on the night.

Wedding Furniture
  1. Bring the inside Out

One of my all-time outdoor wedding favorites is displaying comfy indoor furniture outside, having a gorgeous chandelier hanging in a tree, an elegant sofa in the blooming fields of the lavender farm. Have Katie and Michelle with San Juan Shindigs provide whimsical rentals from tableware, décor, furniture, games and dance floors or simply have them plan your entire wedding.

  1. Add a Sense of Place

Camas Designs, with the motto “locally sourced happiness”, artfully combines locally sourced flowers with local artwork and treasures found in nature. Tell them your dreams and they’ll tell your story in flowers at your wedding.

Comfort Spa
  1. Have a Comfort Station

Have a few party necessities handy to keep your guests comfy. That can be as easy as a decorative basket or a few boxes stacked on top of each other. As mentioned, weather on the island can change quickly, so comfort is key. Provide flip flops for dancing after the ceremony, sunglasses, parasols, sunscreen, hand lotion and lip balm.

  1. When on an Island……

San Juan Island is home to a winery, a brewery, a cidery and a distillery. Plus there is nothing more refreshing and beautiful than ice cold lavender lemonade to keep you hydrated. Go all local with your wedding bar and present your guests with unique island flavors.

Outdoor Wedding Jolly Trolley
  1. Keep Everyone Safe

Provide a shuttle to and from your wedding venue to make things easy and so everybody can relax. The Mom & Pop Jolly Trolley company with their cute fleet, has you covered and another great, if less showy alternative is San Juan Transit.

Bird Rock Hotel Washington