When it comes to your wedding day, my motto (being the control freak that I am) is to expect the best but prepare for the worst. If you planned your wedding during a time period when there might be potentially bad weather, you need to know how to prepare for it. This post will give you some great things to think about when it comes to contingency planning for bad weather.
Here are some brainstorming questions I want you to ask yourself before we go any further into logistics. These will help you think of all of the bases you might need to cover when planning your wedding during rainy season (and the answers will vary person-to-person, or venue-to-venue):
Is it covered? Is it outdoors?
If it rains will it potentially be muddy?
Are your chairs white or light-colored? Will the chairs/decor get ruined in rain?
If outdoors, will it get too cold?
Do you have elderly relatives that will need special attention (heat, help from slipping, etc)?
What shoes will you be wearing? Will yours and your guests' heels sink in grass/mud at the ceremony
or reception areas? Do you need to have a backup pair of shoes?
Do you need to have a backup umbrella?
Will your hair and makeup be waterproof?
Is it outdoors?
Is there heat?
Will the food be covered or indoors? Will the food be able to stay warm?
If indoors, will the floor get slippery?
When was the last roof repair? Will the roof of the tent/building be guaranteed not to leak?
Will anyone be there from the venue to assist you during your day?
Are you using the same chairs for your ceremony and reception? If they get wet will it be a problem?
Wedding off-season is considered December-March due to weather and potentially hazardous conditions. It can be a lot less expensive to book a wedding venue during this timeframe, but there is a tradeoff... If you are planning a wedding during this time, you should take into consideration that some outdoor venues (gardens, barns, etc.) won't even be open for events during this time, and some venues with outdoor event tents will not even have their event tents up. Another thing to keep in mind is the scenery at the venue. If you book a wedding during the winter months, you should try and do a site visit of your venue in the winter months to see what the scenery will be like during your wedding. Take into account that this is wedding off-season because it isn't as scenic as the spring, when flowers are blooming and grass is green and trees are bushy and blowing in the breeze. So things might be a little more droopy and dreary outside than normal.
Although it might not be as beautiful outside, there are certainly some precautions you can take when planning your wedding during this time to mitigate the risk of bad weather and still make it a beautiful wedding. Rain IS traditionally a symbol of good luck on your wedding day, but that doesn't mean that we don't have to worry about it. Probably the most important thing you should plan for is an indoor reception (and ceremony, if possible). This way you don't have to worry about last minute rentals or damage to décor, cake, cold food, etc. You can also leave some wiggle room in your budget for last minute items that may be needed, such as event tent and outdoor heater rentals, or umbrellas for the wedding party/guests. Planning to have everything take place indoors will give you great peace of mind when planning your wedding logistics, and it will be seen as an added bonus if it doesn't rain and you can utilize outdoor areas as well. Whereas if you planned for an outdoor ceremony and reception, your wedding will either meet your expectations (if the weather ends up being nice), or will be disappointing (if weather ruins your plans). Wouldn't you rather potentially be pleasantly surprised at the outcome, instead of potentially disappointed?
If you already booked your venue and any part of the event takes place outdoors, you'll want to ask your venue a few questions. Most importantly, you'll want to ask the venue contact what the contingency plan is for rain. Chances are, that's not the first time they've been asked that question and they should have a response ready to go. Usually it's one of two answers: 1) The ceremony and/or reception can be moved to an indoor location on the property, or 2) There is a local rental company that you can rent event tents from. If you're expected to rent a tent, be sure and ask if you can reserve one just in case, and what the cost might be should you need it (so you can leave a space in your budget for it). Another question to ask your venue contact is if anyone who works at the venue will be staffing your event, and if so, what will they be tasked with? It's good to know if you do need to move things around, or move food or furniture inside if there is a designated person who can help you with that and lessen that stress.
Another thing you'll want to do is make sure that you have extra towels or floormats on hand just in case so that floors don't get too slippery for guests and become a huge liability. This is especially important for older guests. Make sure you also ask the venue if their roof has any leaks in the rain that you might need to be aware of. And if so, how soon they plan on fixing them.
Along with colder and rainier months comes the need for heat. You don't want your guests to be uncomfortable and sitting in the cold for 5+ hours and remember only that about your wedding. You should absolutely look at venues with some form of heating in them so that your guests will be comfortable (especially if they come in wet from the rain). If your venue doesn't have heating (like most rustic barn venues don't, then you should ask about the rules on bringing in portable heaters and have some of your budget potentially reserved for portable heaters. Along with a warm venue, you'll also want warm food. You may want to opt for hiring a caterer vs just picking up catering food to go. A caterer will have the warming trays, sternos, and other equipment necessary to keep your food at the appropriate temperature so that guests don't get sick from the food (or get served cold food).
The most important things to remember for an off-season wedding are warmth, shelter, and contingency planning. Yes, it is important to take into account your attire, and potential slip hazard, and other weather-related problems that can arise, but if you plan for warmth and shelter that will take care of most problems that could potentially occur. A Winter wedding can be a beautiful and enjoyable event when planned right. If you go into your big day with realistic expectations and are prepared for the worst, then you'll find that you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
You cannot control the weather, and you can only do so much contingency planning. Try not to stress too much, and maybe if you embrace it, you'll be dancing in the rain before you know it.
Until Next Time,