7 Things I’ve Learned About Planning an Outdoor Wedding in Brookings, SD

Hitch Design Studio loves to plan weddings. We are wedding coordinators, detail planners, and we love learning new things so we can pass the information on to you!

I’m planning a beautiful outdoor wedding for next May, 2015, with 350-400 expected guests in a tent outdoors. While this wedding will literally be glowing (with all the bistro lights we are going to hang) it also comes with some roadblocks with size, beer permits, parking and noise ordinances. Have no fear, though, because Hitch has planned outdoor weddings before, but mostly in Sioux Falls, SD. So, drumroll please….

Here are seven things I’ve learned about planning this outdoor wedding in Brookings, South Dakota:

1. Brookings City Parks close at 11 p.m. — All city parks have a quiet time of 11 p.m. That means all music must be turned off and the park closes at 11 p.m., so your guests would need to start departing at 10:45 p.m. Like a recent reception card I designed said, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!” Here is some information about Brookings City Park options: Save the date with park shelter rentals. Park shelters A, B, C and E at Hillcrest Park and the Park Shelter at Pioneer Park can be reserved for 1⁄2 day and full day rentals. (1⁄2 day rentals times are either 10:00 a.m. to 4:00pm or 5:00pm to 11:00pm. Full Day rentals are from 10:00am to 11:00pm.) All remaining park shelters are not reserved and are free for the community to use on a first come first use basis. To reserve a park shelter at Hillcrest or Pioneer Park please contact the Brookings Parks and Recreation Department, 520 3rd Street, Suite 130 or call (605) 692-2708 or see the recreation guide.

• Hillcrest Park Shelters A (112 capacity) and E (112 capacity) rent for $15 per half day or $25 per day.
• Hillcrest Park Shelters B (72 capacity) and C (56 capacity) rent for $10 per half day or $15 per day
• Pioneer Park Shelter (75 capacity) rent for $10 per half day or $15 per day 

2. Alcohol is not allowed on SDSU’s campus (unless you have a special permit) — It’s a beautiful place to hold a wedding, especially if you met at State, though! SDSU offers Sylvan Green (just under the campanile) and other locations for an outdoor wedding or reception tent, including the new SDSU Club Room. If you choose an outdoor location, it has a city noise ordinance of 11 p.m.. There are five contacts you need to make to hold a wedding on SDSU’s campus, however (from parking to reservations, to UPD and catering. Hitch has those contacts if you need them.) They also have a sprinkler system that does not cooperate with staking a tent very well, so a call to the locaters should be on your list. The SDSU Club Room is indoors and holds 400+ people on round dinner tables if that’s a better fit for you! It also overlooks the new stadium.

3. McCrory Gardens has a beautiful indoor/outdoor facility for your wedding and reception — It is one of the most beautiful locations to have your wedding, and does allow alcohol. The same city noise ordinance applies for 11 p.m., but if you’re creative, you could play yard games until later in the night! Here is the website for more information: http://www.mccrorygardens.com  Catering is provided by Aramark, the food provider on SDSU’s campus. If you have a tent outside the facility, it must be a certain dimension to fit behind the event center. Hitch has those dimension numbers if you need them. If you rent McCrory Gardens, you have access to the indoor facility, which comes with tables and chairs, but if you put up a tent outdoors, you will need to rent tables and chairs, etc. The photo opportunities alone are worth booking this venue!

4. Other unique outdoor wedding locations are good too —  Hitch knows of these outdoor (sometimes rustic, barn-like, chubby chic) options:

  • Twila Eggers Barn and Farm
  • Good Roots Barn and Farm
  • Mike Bennett’s Barn and Farm
  • Oakwood Lakes Lodge (OWLL)
  • “The Gazebo” at Enoch Farms
  • Edgebrook Golf Course
  • Dakota Nature Park (for smaller, 70-person cocktail receptions if it fits the mission of the Nature Park)
  • Midway State Camp (On Highway 14 between Brookings and Volga) Contact David Kneip: 605-691-9200
  • Oakwood State Park
  • Let us know if you need contact information about how to book these barns and venues!

Hitch has details on each location (parking, which one has outdoor wood-fired pizza ovens, porta-pottie situations, noise ordinances, directions, contacts, etc.)

5. Wording your invitation — If the ceremony is not taking place in a house of worship (so, an outdoor wedding like you want to have) your wedding invitation should read “We request the pleasure of your company” instead of “We request the honor of your presence” like you’d write if you were getting married in a house of worship. For more invitation etiquette tips, click here.

6. Renting a tent in Brookings — There is only one business in Brookings who rents tents; Central Business Supply.  They can also rent tables, chairs, etc. Linens, decor and dishes can come from Party Depot and centerpieces can come from Hitch! Let us know if you need recommendations for florists, DJ, limo/bus transportation, cakes, outdoor dance floors and more. We have local contacts for all those services.

7. The “extras” are a nice, thoughtful touch for an outdoor weddingWedding programs that can be used as fans, bottled water or a traveling drink station at the wedding and reception, an indoor facility for moms/babies, and a good wedding coordinator that can keep your food, cake and dishes from dust and bugs is a must. If it’s reeeeally hot, they can even keep your flowers misted and cool before the reception. Perhaps Hitch?   🙂

BONUS TIPS: Did you know that the scent of vanilla keeps bugs away? Offer that to guests or your bridal party. Did you know they make high-heel attachments to keep you from sinking into the grass at an outdoor wedding? Read more tips like those here.

  • Use cupcake liners to cover your drinks to keep dust and bugs out
  • Use creative seating ideas like pillows on uncomfortable chairs or blanket-covered hay bales
  • Give your bridesmaids little cement pads to stand on so they don’t sink into the grass
  • Give sunglasses or flip-flops as wedding favors
  • Provide blankets or umbrellas if it might be chilly or drizzly
  • Have an ice cream cart!
  • Consider having fans near your ceremony and reception
  • Make sure your tent has side walls to keep wind and dust away
  • Use flowers, fabric and lights to make an outdoor “aisle”
  • Have lit cocktail tables for a more casual feel near the bar area
  • Wrap a tree with lights and string and hang photo memories around it
  • You could even hang lights or lanterns from the trees above
  • If the venue permits, hold a bonfire (with s’mores!)
  • Make an outdoor photo booth with trees, frames, fabric, lights and props
  • Use a netted canopy to keep bugs out of your cake table
  • Have sunscreen available in cute dispensers
  • Make sure your wireless microphone and speakers operate well outdoors in a large space
  • For more tips like these, visit this site

Visit our Pinterest for ways to style your outdoor wedding and we also wrote you a guide to South Dakota weather because we all know how that goes!

Let us know if you’d like some contacts for planning your outdoor Brookings wedding. We can answer questions, give guidance on the knowledge we have, and do some more digging for information if you want somewhere REALLY unique. We’re up for anything! Contact us today to reserve your date. We are a fountain of knowledge, which can save you a ton of time, like hopefully this blog post just did.

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