When it comes to planning a large-scale event such as your wedding, you'll want to take all the precautions necessary to ensure it all goes off without a hitch. While you can plan to prevent certain slip-ups by hiring the right vendors and selecting the right venue, one area you can't control is the weather. Mother Nature has a mind of her own, so even if you plan to have your wedding on the least rainy month of the year in the least rainy town in the world, you cannot guarantee that she will follow suit. This might leave you wondering what your options might be if it does rain—and how far should you go to prepare for the "what if" event?
To assist couples in this situation, many outdoor venues will suggest you go ahead and book a rain-plan tent. This means a tent will be held for a couple so that the wedding can still go on should rain be in the forecast. Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design always encourages her couples to purchase put down this deposit if they are hoping for an outdoor wedding. "While we all hope it won't be needed, if it is and there's no way to get one last minute, that's going to put a damper on the day...pun intended," she explains. "Most couples will make this purchase because they don't want to worry about this detail—plus, we can work on alternative uses for this tent in case it is bright and sunny, so they don't feel like it was a total waste of money."
On average, rental companies charge a 50 percent non-refundable deposit for any rain reserve inventory. "If it is not installed, then they do not have to pay the remaining 50 percent," explains Jenny Orsini of Jenny Orsini Events. "Usually all rain tents must be decided on at least 48 hours before the event and the client will only be charged in full if the tents are installed." Because tent companies not only reserve the inventory for their rain plan, but also for the time and labor required to put up their tents neatly and safely a day before the event starts, Orsini tells all her clients that they can technically wait until the week of the wedding (once weather reports are out) to decide on any rain-plan tents—however, in this case it can't be guaranteed the tent company will have the inventory available or the time to install. For this reason, she tends to encourage her clients to reserve rain inventory early on in the planning process. "There are also other rentals (walkway covers, marquis tents, and pathway flooring to avoid guests walking in mud) that reputable tent companies can provide in case of inclement weather," she says.
In southern California, where Alison Laesser-Keck runs her business, Alison Bryan Destinations, rain plan tents are absolutely mandatory. "You not only need to create a rain plan for the reception, but also for the cocktail hour, ceremony, catering kitchens, and for those transitional times (walkways from space to space, valet, or areas outside of restrooms)," she says. "We don't often ask for rain plan tent deposits back because the weather can change so quickly, so it is better to budget for it and know that your plan B is solid than lose your mind week of—trust me!"
In short, the likelihood of you getting your deposit back should you not need the tent is very, very slim, but you can always put the tent to good use in some other capacity at your wedding or else ask the rental company if they'd be willing to let you put those funds towards something else, such as lounge furniture or upgraded linens.