This is something I’ve written and spoken about countless times – and for good reason. When planning and outdoor wedding you must be totally prepared. There is nothing like a beautiful outdoor setting for a wedding ceremony. Especially here in the Poconos! It is romantic and inspiring when nature surrounds us. Whether it is by a lake, in a field, the woods, or at one of the many beautiful sites at our stunning resorts. At most venues there is always a good indoor alternative in case of rain. But when there is no appropriate space to go to – you really need a strong backup plan, one that you can feel good about.
As a Celebrant I often officiate at outdoor weddings. Here are three tales of outdoor weddings and weather, and lessons we can learn from them.
Beautiful backyard – example number one: The family had constructed several arches leading through a path in the woods to the site, where a rustic open structure stood for the ceremony. They put a lot of work into their large, lovely backyard, making it special for this purpose. On rehearsal day we practiced at the site and also on the rented dance floor under the tent, as a back-up, which was less than satisfactory.
On the wedding day it poured! The bride had her heart set on marrying in the designated spot and luckily there was a break in the rain. We gathered and the ceremony took place. We got lucky, but if that break in the rain hadn’t happened we certainly would have had to have the ceremony on that dance floor, complete with the tent pole right in front of the couple. There was no path for a processional, and a disconnect between the dance floor area and where the guests would be.
On the lake – number two: The couple, sophisticated New Yorkers, had a second home in the Poconos, right on a lake, complete with a dock. They planned to have the ceremony by the water. The bride was in the fashion industry and had her own mini-version of a Christo and Jeanne-Claude (the artists who created The Gates in Central Park) – she’d hung panels of fabric around the property in a very artful way. It was fabulous! Tents were rented, caterers hired, tables and chairs, staff – all was in place. On the wedding day a hurricane hit.
Fortunately this couple was so high energy and fun they simply rolled down the sides of the tent, laughed and had a great time anyway. The aesthetic, however, was less than appealing, but they made the best of it.
Open field – number three. It shouldn’t have been hot that day, but it was. A heat wave struck. The wedding was in a field behind a bed-and-breakfast. There was a tent for the dinner, but no covering for the ceremony. Think of it – men in suits, standing there in 90+ degree heat, high humidity, sun beating down. I moved some chairs, and got us all closer to the food tent, which provided some much-needed shade for a few of the guests. We made it through, but surely it was not what the couple had in mind when choosing that spot for their wedding ceremony.
Remember it’s not just rain that can cause problems for an outdoor wedding. Prepare for any weather extreme. For a cold snap during a spring or fall wedding, have shawls or blankets available, or portable heaters. For heat, have umbrellas for shade and large, portable fans. Won’t your guests be amazed?
Taking your back-up plan just a bit further can make all the difference.
Thanks for Alison Conklin for the beautiful photograph!