If you're set on having an outdoor ceremony and/or reception, you're probably checking the weather forecast on the daily (if not by the hour) and crossing your fingers that Mother Nature will work in your favor. However, unlike many aspects of wedding planning, the weather is completely out of your control. For this reason, it's important to devise a plan in which the weather will impact your big day as little as possible.
"Let's face it: No one wants to consider that it could be raining or snowing on their wedding day, when they are envisioning sun and blue skies, but rain plans should absolutely be part of your wedding planning," says Lindsey Nickel of Lovely Day Events. "They typically include spending more money for additional rain rentals, but it's much better to be prepared for that in your budget ahead of time—for example, tents can be put on hold months ahead and require a deposit." Deciding on a weather plan (whether it's for rain, snow, a cold snap, or extreme heat) is something you should do early on. Should you ultimately need it, you'll be saving yourself from a great deal of last-minute stress. "For example, if you need to rent a tent, it's much easier to simply rent the tent already on hold; however, if there is no tent on hold now you (or your planner) are scrambling hoping to find one that is available," Nickel says. "Having a plan B for the weather will save time, money and stress as your wedding date approaches."
Depending on the complexity and size of the tent, it can take days to properly set one up. That's why Larissa Banting of Weddings Costa Rica recommends fully committing to your rain tent regardless of the forecast, assuming that your venue doesn't have an interior space you can use. "Even smaller tents can take hours, enough time for the forecast to change so my recommendation is to err on the side of caution and have the tent ready to go," she says.
When should make the call? That depends on the location, how variable the weather can be, and how involved the setup is. "When I have a 4 p.m. ceremony, we make the weather call around 1:30 or 2 p.m. so we have enough time to set the flowers and chairs," Banting explains. "If things are looking a bit iffy, we'll go with plan B, as post-ceremony photos can always be taken out of doors if the sun decides to make an appearance." When creating your plan B, she suggests speaking with your décor team to see how much time they'll need, then giving them a 30-minute buffer as you create the timeline. That means they'll have a little wiggle room to make the space just as beautiful as it would have been outdoors. Once you make the decision, stick with it: "Nothing is worse than going with plan B, then setting up for plan A only to have to scramble back to plan B—trust me on this one!" Banting says.
It's important to take guests comfort into mind when you make the decision. If you think your loved ones will be happy to head outdoors in chilly weather for a 20-minute ceremony, go for it, but if the temperature has unexpectedly dropped, it might make more sense to exchange vows inside. The same goes for heat: A 15-minute ceremony might not feel like a long time to ask guests to sit outside, but if the forecast calls for a 95-degree day with high humidity, conditions could feel unbearable for most people.