In French, there’s a famous expression about weddings: “mariage pleureux, mariage heureux.” This roughly translates to “rain on your wedding day means a happy marriage.” Even if you believe such a saying, rain is something most people want to avoid on their big day. Worst of all, there’s not much you can do to prevent it.
Well, you could have the clouds seeded, but that’s a pretty steep expense. There’s also the interesting Southern superstition of burying a bottle of bourbon at the wedding site to keep away the rainclouds. But realistically (and in the interests of putting that Jack Daniel’s to better use), your best bet is to be prepared for any weather that comes your way.
You need a plan, and wishing for sunshine isn’t an effective one. So let’s make one together — here’s a bouquet of tips that can help you enjoy your ceremony & reception, rain or shine.
1. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, have an indoor backup plan ready
For a large wedding, this will involve your wedding planner, the facilities manager and perhaps the banquet manager. If your reception location also has an indoor venue, you may consider renting out some space in case of a downpour. For a smaller wedding, it could be as simple as asking your hotel for use of a ballroom–or even the lobby, in a pinch. And if you really want to stay outside, you can always have some tents at the ready.
Rain is inconvenient, but if you’re truly worried the weather may be bad enough to shut down your venue, it’s a good idea to look into wedding insurance.
2. Talk to your team about contingency plans
Whether it’s just you and your betrothed handling the day-of details, or it’s your team of caterers, photographers, banquet planners, staff and musicians — make sure everyone knows what’s going to change in the event of rain. This can be handled by a surrogate — perhaps the bride’s mother, or the best man, or even the wedding planner. Designate a person who will be responsible, and communicate with them by text or phone at the first roll of thunder or hint of precipitation. Make sure you have answers to the following questions:
- What’s the backup plan for the ceremony itself?
- Where will you hold the reception?
- Where will the band go when the storm starts?
- Where and when will you take the pictures?
If you’re still ready to handle everything with the elements against you, you’re in good shape to have a happy wedding day.
3. Create a way to let guests know
Getting married during the rainy time of year? Is your venue located somewhere famed for precipitation? Consider developing your contingency plan well in advance and adding an “in case of rain” message to the invitation. You could also tell guests to check your wedding website for updates since most of us are so connected to the internet these days. And just to be safe, you can set up a phone number that people can call that gives automated wedding-day updates, or just send out group text messages. Use technology to your advantage.
One fun, old school way to convey information is with a phone tree. Just simply divide up the guest list among the parents and attendants and have them get in touch with your guests. Each person should receive a phone call or text with the new location, time and any other relevant details.
4. Delegate now, not during the deluge
Your parents and members of the bridal party can help you execute the contingency plan. Give everyone a task to take on if rain becomes imminent. Assign someone to:
- Communicate with the band.
- Coordinate with the photographer.
- Touch base with the officiant.
- Make sure the cake stays dry.
- Help guests get to the new venue — especially the elderly, those with special needs and those with small children.
- Distribute rain gear, if that’s part of your plan.
- Coordinate with the wedding coordinator.
- Be the point person for anyone else with questions.
- Cover or retrieve anything that could be damaged by the rain.
You want to have people running interference for the bride and the groom. You don’t want either of them to be dealing with any of this on their day.
5. Rainproof your look
Brides should wear waterproof mascara and water-resistant foundation. (Given the likelihood of happy tears, this is a wise choice regardless of the weather.) Talk to your hairdresser about a style that won’t collapse if it’s humid — or sopping wet.
6. Be flexible
Monitor the weather. If it looks like the rain will pass through, consider swapping the order of events. Maybe serve appetizers and open the bar until it passes.
7. Think about getting into the venue
Even if you have an indoor wedding, you need to plan for rain. Gather a complement of friends (the older children of your attendants will do this well), or hire a handful of high school or college students to meet vehicles as they arrive at the venue. Equip those greeters with umbrellas and ponchos, and have a few people inside the door with thick towels on hand.
You may even want to have some rain boots handy–they’ll be appreciated, too, especially by anyone wearing heels or recently polished shoes. If you’re using parking attendants, be sure they have been given explicit instructions on where to direct people arriving for the wedding. It may be appropriate to ask the facility manager to have those attendants pass out umbrellas, etc.
8. Stock up
If you live in a rainy climate, stock up on umbrellas, disposable rain gear, clear plastic painters’ tarps and towels. You can give regular umbrellas to guests and festive ones to the wedding party. Consider rainboots for the bride and her attendants. You can find ones that will complement the wedding colors, and — unlike the dresses — the boots can be worn again and again!
Consider matching rain boots and umbrellas.
9. Be willing to get wet
Neither of you is likely to melt in the rain, and sometimes, photographs taken in the rain can be very beautiful.
You’ll remember your wedding day. You want to remember it fondly, regardless of the weather. So embrace your contingency plan. Be resilient. Remember, rain will make a great story. And, above all else: This is your wedding day. Let it shine, even if the sun doesn’t!
What’s your experience with rainy day weddings? Did you have any helpful tricks or memorable experiences that weren’t covered here? Let us know — we would love to hear from you! Plus, don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages for more wedding inspo!