Everyone has a vision of their perfect wedding day. For some, it might be a candlelit affair inside a cool old warehouse. For others, it might be dancing under the stars on a grassy hillside. If your vision contains any outdoor components, then you should definitely consider the dreaded question: what if it rains? We wedding planners can pull strings to make a lot of things happen on wedding day, but alas, the weather is one thing that is totally out of our control. But there is one thing we can do. We can be prepared for every possible scenario!
How Do I Make A Rain Plan?
To make a rain plan, the most important thing to consider is your available venue space. Are there extra spaces for you to use? Is it fully outdoor or a mix of indoor/outdoor? If you have planned an outdoor ceremony with an indoor reception, talk to your venue about rain options. Is there a second indoor space to move the ceremony in the event of bad weather? If there’s not a second space, ask if there might be enough room in the main reception area to do the ceremony. The size of the space will play into this a bit. Ideally, if there’s enough space then you might be able to set up the full ceremony in the reception room and just push the guest tables to the back out of the way. After the ceremony you can send guests to cocktails while you flip the space — meaning move everything back in place for the reception. If you don’t have that much extra room to work with, then you could do the ceremony on the dance floor, set up one or two rows for family to sit in and then have the rest of the guests sit at the reception tables. It’s not ideal and might not be that picture perfect scenario you imagined, but guests will be dry and you will still be married at the end!
What If My Venue Is 100% Outside?
We strongly, strongly recommend that you reserve a tent. If there are no indoor options to be had and then it rains, where will your guests go? Most likely they will peace out after the ceremony. A select few, may kick off their shoes and dance in the rain, but at this point all your planning, all that food and all that booze would be all washed out. If you have a tent on backup though, you have the peace of mind of knowing that if it does rain, you and your guests will be dry. Talk to your planner or your rental company about what size you will need to cover everything – guest tables, food, dancing etc. You will want to reserve this in advance to ensure availability. You can also ask about tent sides which could be needed in the event of driving rain. Those can often be added on much later, though. Most rental companies will require a non-refundable deposit of 50% down on your tent when you reserve. So what if you don’t use it? Yes, you are out that money. But we truly believe it is worth the cost to know that you have a back up plan in case the sky opens up that day. Also, some tents are really gorgeous. Have you ever seen a clear top tent? So, so gorgeous!
Can’t I Just Rent a Tent A Few Days Before the Wedding?
You can definitely try, but we don’t recommend this. The rental companies aren’t trying to dupe you out of money by making you reserve and put down a deposit in advance. They want to make sure that if you need a tent, you get one. Once reserved, they will guarantee you that they can provide the manpower to install the tent (these things are no easy pop up and require hours of labor) and that you will have all the necessary permits required. Those things have to be done in advance. If you call two days before the wedding when the forecast suddenly shifts, they may not have a tent available, have the labor to deliver/set it up or the time to apply for a permit. That is why we always prefer to get on their books early.
When Do I Decide To Enact My Rain Plan?
This is different for everyone. If you are in a traditional venue, they will let you know what the absolute last moment is that you can make this change. For some it might be the morning of the wedding, right before the ceremony is set up. For others, they may start to prepare and set up a few days in advance so they might require more notice. Most tent companies will require a min of 72 hours and some up to 5 days to make the decision so they can secure labor and add you to their schedule. I know this stinks – the weather can change so much in 3-5 days. We know this is very true of our crazy Nashville weather! At that point, go with your gut and try to ask yourself, what is the worst case scenario to you: that your guests don’t get to have dinner under the stars? Or that your guests are getting rained on? And really the answer to this question may not be as obvious as you’d think. We get it – you want the wedding you’ve envisioned! If the weather looks very iffy, then you could pay the second half of the money on the tent, get on their schedule and then on the day of – tell them not to put it up. We’ve had that happen before it’s definitely not fun to be out all that money but at least you can make the decision at the last minute. We’ve also had days where we watched the weather very, very closely and if it looked like the rain was going to pass through quickly, we flip flopped the timeline and did cocktail hour indoors before the ceremony. When the rain stopped, we scurried outside with our trusty chamois and wiped down all the chairs and had the ceremony outside as planned. And guys, we’ve had quick ceremonies in the rain with umbrellas as well. And they were beautiful.
In then end, you will be married regardless of where exactly it took place or whether the weather (see what we did there?) cooperated or not. Being prepared will help make the day less stressful and more fun for you knowing that no matter what, you have a plan. Happy Planning!
Watch us discuss this on Planning + Prosecco here!