2010 08/11

In Case of Rain — Surviving and Celebrating a Stormy Wedding Day

By Erin Frank

Bay Area brides are well aware of one thing: Weather cannot be trusted. One day the sky could be sunny and clear, the next day rain is sheeting down, running in rivulets around you and ruining your carefully constructed open-air wedding. The best defense against unexpected downpours is preparation and a good attitude. Here are a few tips for taking a rain day in stride rather than letting it stop your wedding in its tracks.

1) Consider a back-up location

A small deposit at a local restaurant or other indoor space could give you some much-needed piece of mind. Get all hands on deck to grab flowers and decor if you decide to relocate due to rain. If you’re determined to have the ceremony outside, I encourage you to consider an indoor reception venue. When selecting the venue, imagine where and how you’d hold the ceremony there if the weather forces you indoors ahead of schedule. If needed, guests can always be seated at dinner tables as they watch you exchange vows.

2) Tent it up

Tents offer both shade for warm days and shelter from mild rains. Side flaps can be ordered for the tent to keep out heavier rains on windy days, but be sure to take them down if the day turns out to be warm—you don’t want your guests sweating from heat trapped in the tent.  Special Events offers tents for ceremonies and receptions of any size: www.bayareatents.com.

3) Discuss rain locations with your photographer

Photography packages often include a pre-wedding meeting on-site to discuss the logistics of the wedding day. Take advantage of this time to scour your wedding and reception sites for great indoor places to take photos. Ask your photographer to bring appropriate lighting. Planning alternate locations will save your photographer added time scrambling for good inside shots at the last minute. Finally, if you’ve got your heart set on that perfect picture with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, schedule a second shoot for a later date. It gives you a great excuse to wear your dress again, the groom can wear a black suit if his tux was rented, and you’ll get gorgeous photos and have the photographer all to yourselves.

4) Umbrella elegant

Pretty parasols can offer protection for your guests, but the paper variety can leave them with a soggy mess on their hands. Brides looking to splurge can buy a lovely waterproof polyester parasol from Bella Umbrella, or event rent them for a reasonable fee at www.bellaumbrella.com. They also make great gifts for bridesmaids. If you want to shelter the majority of your guests, buy in bulk—you should be able to get prices down to about $2 per umbrella.

5) When life hands you lemons, make lemonade

When it comes down to a rainy wedding day, it’s all about how you handle it. The bridal party, and the bride in particular, sets the tone for the day. If you’re crying because you feel your wedding day is ruined by rain, not only are you missing special moments from a once-in-a-lifetime event, but you’re turning your guests’ joy into concern and disappointment. If it rains, take it in stride. You’re prepared, you have a back up plan, and your positive energy will spread through the room like sunshine.

Photo by Juni via Wikicommons.


  • Erin, you hit the nail on the head about back up locales. I always take a couple extra umbrellas in case the weather goes south. I encourage brides to keep an open mind should it rain because some of the best shots and interactions come from couples who embrace the conditions and just have fun.

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