The weather in Central Pennsylvania is unpredictable. Here it is, the end of July and my husband still has to mow our grass. Usually by now its dried out and hasn't been touched in weeks. I don't feel there have been that many days filled with the oppressing July heat we typically see. In fact, its been a pretty wet summer. Though it keeps my yard and flowers looking beautiful, it can cause problems when it comes to weddings. Most of my summer clients getting married will plan some part of their wedding outside; typically the ceremony. In the past couple of year's I have had to change up some ceremony plans due to inclement weather. When I think about the weddings ceremonies I have moved inside, one wedding always springs to mind. It was Jillian and Brian's June 2015 wedding. They didn't just have rain showers on their wedding day, it was a downpour. A storm system had moved in about a day before and dumped a lot of water in the area causing flash flooding. However, this awesome couple was the perfect example on how to deal with an uncontrollable situation. Here are some tips on what they did, as well as advice should you find yourself caught in a similar situation.
First and foremost, HAVE A BACK UP PLAN. I cannot stress this enough. Also, make sure your back up plan is viable. Sometimes I talk to clients about this and their plan is to rent a tent. That may work, but it may not. Tent rentals can be popular during the warmer months and most are non-refundable rentals. Through social media I heard of a couple who had planned and outdoor wedding; both the ceremony and reception. It is a romantic notion; dancing away under the stars in an open space. However, its not practical. A few days before the wedding the forecast was looking dire and they were scrambling to try and find a tent or a some sort of facility they could utilize instead. I never found out if it worked out in their favor.
Next, work out how to implement the rain plan. Jillian and Brian booked their wedding at the beautiful General Potter Farm; which offers a wonderful back up plan for the ceremony. A few days before prior to the wedding, we saw the forecast. I had a call with the soon to be wedded and we talked through the logistics of how to implement our back up plan. We also discussed how to transform the ceremony space to a cocktail hour space. Once the plan was in place, I contacted all the vendors and alerted them to the new flow. It's important that all your vendors involved know the back up plan as well. Especially if part of the new strategy could affect them during set up. Occasionally a back up plan is to utilize the same space as the reception. At General Potter Farm its directly beneath the reception and you can hear every movement upstairs when its quiet. In either case you don't what wait staff moving around and making distracting noises while your saying your vows.
For Jillian and Brian, it ended up being a beautiful and intimate ceremony that no rain could have dampened. My favorite part is during their beautiful vows the bride ripped the pocket square out of the grooms jacket to wipe hear tears. Here is a pic from this beautiful ceremony from J&A Photography and I just love the genuine smile on their faces.
Next, is to be prepared. I always recommend alerting your guests if any part of the wedding is outside. That way they can dress appropriately and come prepared. I suggest having a few umbrella's around. Not only for the couple themselves to get in and out of the venue, but for the guests. Bring a a second pair of shoes. The worse is having a heel that sinks down in the mud. Having some towels on hand is also a good idea. If the weather breaks you may want to step outside and grab a few photos. that is when those extra shoes and towels (for wet feet) can come in handy. Luckily Jillian and Brian, got a few breaks in the rain that day for a few images outside.
If the weather is questionable and you are going to wing the ceremony outside, be prepared for a sudden rain shower. That means anything valuable should not be put outside, or get a small pop up tent to put stuff under. Some musicians use instruments that cannot get wet (think harp, violin, cello) and will require a tent just in case. Keep those umbrella's handy as well.
Finally, I cannot stress enough the importance of having a skilled and professional photographer. There are a lot of wonderful photographers out there to select from when booking. It can be tempted to go on price alone, but make sure you are looking at the quality of work. There are some that take a nice picture but don't look much different than something I could take with a point and shoot camera. There is something to be said about skill and a true pro can get a gorgeous image in any setting. When booking a photographer it doesn't hurt to ask to see if they have done rainy weddings, and request examples of their work in this situation. Jillian and Brian hired the very talented Joel and Andrea Knepper of J&A Photography. One of my all time favorite bridal portraits (the black and white one below) was taken by them below. I'm not sure if this image or some of these other ones below would have happened if they were able to go outside that day.
The weather is one of those things you can't control on your wedding day; but you can control your attitude about it. I know that isn't always easy. When you have this picture of your day it can be very upsetting when that dream is shattered some. It threatened to rain on my wedding day, so I know the feeling. However, I always remember how Jillian and Brian took the weather forecast. Their response was, "Oh well. There is nothing we can do about it and at the end of the day, all that matters is that we are married." It can be hard to see that on your wedding day, but when I talk to couples who had rainy weddings down the road; they say it was just perfect.
Cheers to Jillian and Brian and all you rainy day couples! Here are a few more images from J&A Photo of their memorable wedding.