Wedding at the lake

5 things that can go wrong at a cottage wedding—but why it’s worth having one anyway

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Let’s face it: weddings are stressful. Even though you’re presumably gathering together all the people you love most in the world (plus your boss, plus your parents’ old friends, plus your neighbour from 20 years ago), weddings are still major events with a lot of potential pitfalls. Add a cottage into that mix, and you ratchet up the stress factor significantly.

The good news is that with proper communication in advance with your wedding guests and some good contingency planning, your cottage wedding can be a great opportunity to share a beautiful place with your guests—and make a ton of great memories.

1. Your septic system can’t handle all of the extra guests

Cottage septic systems tend to be fragile at best—where do you think “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” came from? Add in a larger volume of users than normal, and you may be asking for trouble.

Quick fix: Port-a-potties don’t have to be gross. Don’t rely on your existing facilities to handle your wedding guests. Port-a-potties are easily rentable, as as this post points out, and can be de-yuckified quite efficiently. And word to the wise: get your septic system checked before the wedding to make sure there isn’t the risk of unsightly—ahem— seepage—under guests’ feet.

2. The bugs will launch an all-out onslaught

Hold your wedding at the wrong time of year and your guests may end up watching you cut the cake from the safety of their cars. Also, you’ll have to pay extra to retouch your photos to eliminate unsightly red welts from everyone’s arms.

Quick fix: Natural bug repellants can provide pretty atmosphere. To avoid blackfly season, try not to hold your wedding in the late spring and early summer. For garden-variety mosquitoes, citronella torches and candles can provide some protection as well as a romantic feel to your evening. Small bottles of natural (read: nice-smelling) insect repellant available for guests’ use (perhaps in those potentially pretty port-a-potties) are also a nice touch.

3. The weather doesn’t co-operate

It’s impossible to really, truly predict the weather. Plan for the idea that your guests might be shivering, sweltering or soaking.

Quick fix: The weather might just be glorious—and for everything else, there’s a plan. Have sweaters and wraps available if things get chilly. Set up a tent to keep the rain and the sun off (and to avoid having to change the venue at the last minute). Provide cool drinks and pretty paper fans for during the ceremony if it’s a hot day.

4. Your guests get a little rowdy and your neighbours become enemies for life.

Loud guests are always a risk for an outdoor event—and it doesn’t help that sound travels across water better than land. There’s nothing quite as annoying as the Chicken Dance blasting across the bay at 1 a.m.

Quick fix: You may get a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours. The first plan of attack for a potentially disruptive event is, of course, to invite your neighbours. Chances are, they’re less likely to complain if they’re the ones leading everyone in a spirited rendition of the Boot Scootin’ Boogie. If your neighbours aren’t on the guest list, at least warn them in advance, then do your best to angle speakers away from the water. Also, consider purchasing special event insurance—just in case one of those rowdy guests decides to take a tumble off the dock.

5. Your carefully chosen decorations get wet, blown away or trampled.

You stayed up all night painstakingly painting 457 handmade paper flowers, only to watch them sail off into the trees at the first gust of wind, and your carefully chosen mason jar tulip arrangements are wilting in the heat.

Quick fix: You can revel in the beauty of nature (and save some work while you’re at it). You’re in the most beautiful place on earth anyway — why try to reinvent the wheel with fussy decorations? Use what nature is offering you and save yourself a little time and effort. (If you’re feeling crafty, check out our cottage wedding DIY ideas).

What are some of your tips for holding a great cottage wedding?