Transforming the humble umbrella

I’ve written a lot about rain plans for weddings, and for good reason! If you are having an outdoor wedding ceremony (or reception) you must have a great plan for any unwelcome weather. One idea I’ve suggested in the past is having lots of umbrellas available on a day where there may be a few sprinkles as you’re set to walk down the aisle.

Lots and lots of umbrellas!

This got me thinking about umbrellas in general. I’ve also suggested them for shade for those extra sunny outdoor ceremonies.

Now here’s a completely different twist on the use of umbrellas. An umbrellas ritual. Here’s how it would work –  the couple opens and stands under the umbrella, then have your officiant, best woman and man, or other special person, pour ‘rain’ over the umbrella.  Confetti, lavender, seeds or any small items appropriate for throwing will work. Or have the entire wedding party and even guests participate!

A shower or petals... they could use an umbrella!


This clearly symbolizes weathering life’s storms. When I officiate, I always explain rituals before they happen, but this one would not require much of an explanation – it’s pretty self-evident. Something about the couple ‘agreeing to protect one another, stand together and weather life’s storms’ would do nicely. The optimal moment would be at the end of the ceremony – perhaps just before walking down the aisle, then all the guests can also pelt the couple with the ‘rain.’ What a nice twist. Those trusty bubbles would also work here. The final kiss under the umbrella would be terrific as well.

A ritual such as this adds a great element of fun, a terrific photo opportunity, and an exciting send-off for the couple. I’m a fan of anything at the end of the ceremony that adds that ‘wow’ factor. I love sending the couple down the aisle with a bang – whether it’s confetti cannons, jumping a branch, breaking the glass or other ritualistic action. I love to get the guests fired up about this, and it just makes for a joyous moment for a joyous occasion.

There are also a few interesting umbrella rituals from places near and far.

A traditional Chinese wedding features a full procession and according to tradition, the bride wears a red veil to hide her face, and her mother or attendant holds a red umbrella over her head to encourage fertility.

A Chinese tradition.

In Finland the bride walks from house to house collecting wedding presents. She puts them in a pillowcase, and has an assistant: an older married man (pretty specific, right?) who holds an umbrella over her head. The umbrella symbolizes protection and safe haven.

Love New Orleans culture? I do. If so, consider a ‘second line’ for your ceremony recessional, complete with a great swinging New Orleans song!  Historically umbrellas were used for shade and it was also a sign of southern style and grace.  The umbrella then became an accessory of choice for many southern weddings and was often an indicator of societal statue.  Second Line Umbrellas now reflect attitude and personal style as they the revelers spin them, as if to say “laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Originally used in 'second line' parades.

In France newlyweds dance under a big umbrella while guests toss paper ribbons over them, quite similar to the idea I’ve proposed.

A French tradition.

So the humble umbrella can be transformed into a fantastic, interactive ritual. Have a great time using an umbrella for your wedding – rain or shine!

Rain or shine.. the humble umbrella.



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