Outdoor Wedding Reception vs. Indoor Wedding Reception

The gorgeous changing colors of fall, the fresh air and bright blooms of spring, and the warm sun and vibrant nature of summer are all magical times to have weddings. They can also come with a lot of unknowns on top of the already extensive process of figuring out how to plan a wedding. With so many possibilities for where to host and how to decorate your Cedar rapids area wedding reception, it can be difficult and overwhelming to make a decision. Deciding whether it will be indoor or outdoor is a great first step to take, but both options have their perks as well as setbacks. The easiest way to decide which option is right for your wedding is to compare based on the most important factors. We put those two options up against each other in 5 top categories, because every couple could use a good point to jump into their planning from!

1. Cost

Outdoor Wedding Receptions:

The budget is one of the first decisions you’ll make while planning your wedding, so your reception venue will have to fit that prerequisite. While some outdoor venues can get pricey, most tend to be the inexpensive venue option of the two settings. Some are even so low in price that you could call them a budget wedding venue. They also typically require less floral and other wedding reception decorations to make the space feel inviting. Plus, fewer decorations to put up means more time and less stress!

Indoor Wedding Receptions:

Indoor receptions are almost always more expensive than outdoor receptions. The cost of the space alone could be thousands of dollars, and then you could end up paying more for decorations than you would for an outdoor reception. However, there are indoor venues that offer an all inclusive wedding package, such as A Touch of Class in Cedar Rapids, IA. These packages typically include everything you need for both the ceremony/reception space and the wedding reception meal.

2. Capacity


Venue capacity is likely to vary the most when it comes to outdoor locations simply because each one is unique, but they tend to have more space for seating and for guests to enjoy the celebration away from their tables. Not only will your guests have more space for socializing, but your Eastern Iowa wedding photographer will have an easier time navigating the crowd to get to just the right spot when they need to capture a picture perfect moment. They are especially convenient for those who want to have a Covid safe wedding, since there would be no enclosed space to ventilate.


Indoor venues have strict capacity limits for the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance. If you’re planning to have a large crowd, it might be harder to find a space large enough to accommodate your guests and decor. For a small wedding reception, an indoor space could easily fit your guests with ample room to decorate and show off your unique wedding theme.

Playground near outdoor wedding venue.

3. Entertainment


Open space leaves you with more room for bands, dancing, and all sorts of other activities. You could provide outdoor lawn games for weddings as an inexpensive way to keep children entertained and not underfoot. If you really want to go all out, an outdoor reception could also give you the space to hire a firework pyrotechnician or a bounce house rental (for kids or adults!). Some outdoor spaces do have restrictions on noise levels, so if you plan to hire a wedding DJ or band that is something you’ll need to keep in mind.


We all know the main form of wedding entertainment is the dance floor, and you’ll be hard pressed to find an indoor venue that doesn’t offer that! Most will even have a designated area for it that tables will not be set up on, but some spaces will need to fill the area of the dance floor for dinner before moving those tables to dance. Indoor spaces are also great if you want to have a light show with the music to really get the party going (something you can’t do very well outdoors). Along with that, you’ll be less likely to have noise restrictions which means one less thing to worry about. To keep the kids occupied, you probably won’t be able to fit a bounce house or lawn games inside but you can set up a kids table with favors to keep them entertained throughout the night.

Newlywed couple posing outside on green grass between two trees.

4. Weather


It’s common knowledge that the weather may not agree with the day you’ve chosen to get married, especially if you live in a place where precipitation is more likely and unexpected, like Eastern Iowa or midwest weather. So, what if it rains on your wedding day? You might consider adding a request for your guests to bring umbrellas on the invitation, or to have umbrellas as a wedding favor. If you prefer personalized wedding favors, you can get umbrellas printed with your names or monograms at places like UsUmbrellas.com to really wow your guests! In addition to umbrellas, tents or canopies are a great way to keep the rain off the event area without making your guests hold an umbrella all evening.


If you’re wondering how to reduce wedding stress, eliminating the need to worry about your wedding day weather is a great way (and the biggest perk of an indoor venue)! Although you may be sacrificing that open and organic feeling of an outdoor venue, being free of that worry may just be worth it.

bride and groom hugging and laughing at head table of wedding reception.

5. Accessibility


Depending on what outdoor location you choose, you may have to consider whether or not it is an accessible wedding venue for older or disabled guests. Flat, grassy areas (like a park wedding) don’t usually provide much of an issue, but a beach wedding or a waterfront wedding may be difficult or impossible for some of your guests to get to if there isn’t a clear path or if the distance is too great.


Most indoor venues are going to have sufficient accommodations for elderly and disabled guests, but you should always check with the business before signing a contract. Flat, hard surface floors and other existing (or easily adaptable) accessible features are common and will save you from having to come up with solutions to make some guests’ path to the party easier or possible.

There’s no right or wrong setting when it comes to hosting your wedding reception. Whether you’re ready to DIY as much as possible or you’d prefer to keep your hands free of the details, any season and setting for your reception will be beautiful because it will be a celebration of your love and all that you look forward to as a couple!

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