Outdoor Weddings and Your Plan B

“Expect the Best, Plan for the Worst”

OK, so they’re not the most inspiring words you will hear related to your wedding, but it is the mantra of many a seasoned event planner! And with good reason.

Most people will agree that there are few things as romantic as an outdoor wedding celebration! Your friends and family gathered in the shade of a giant oak tree as you make your way down a flower-strewn aisle, all while a light breeze dances across your gown.

Until that light breeze is actually a precursor to a late afternoon thunderstorm that howls through that oak tree, sending leaves and debris hither and yon!

Ask, ask & ask again.

Whether you’re planning your outdoor ceremony at a wedding venue, country club, beachside resort or even in your parents’ back yard, before you sign a contract, you need to ask about Plan B. And don’t just settle for an “it won’t rain” or “don’t worry, we’ll handle it.” You, the venue manager and your wedding planner should discuss the bad weather contingency plan in great detail so that everyone concerned is just as familiar with the contingency plan as they are with Plan A.

If the outdoor venue you find yourself madly in love with doesn’t offer an indoor option, ask about the ability to bring in your own Plan B. Your wedding planner can work with a local tent rental company to reserve a tent for the outdoor location that you have your heart set on. In the event of a perfect 75-degree, sunny day which leads to you canceling the tent, you will incur financial penalties. Know what they are in advance and consider that it may still be money well spent if having the tent reserved has allowed you to relax for months about Plan B!

Share the Love

Once your contingency plan has been solidified and details firmed up, make certain to share the plan with all your wedding vendors well in advance! The last thing you need is the stress that would accompany non-stop phone calls from your florist, your photographer, the cake people and the string quartet, all wanting to know “what do we do now?!” while you’re having your make-up applied and your nails touched up!

Plans C, D and E

Naturally, rain is the most worried about and planned for weather condition when preparing for outdoor wedding events. It is certainly not the only scenario that you should be ready for! If your event is taking place in a particularly warm climate at a hot time of day, is there available shade? Does the venue have large fans? Will bottled water be available for your guests? Is your outdoor site prone to being windy? While you can’t do much to prevent your hair from rising on the breezes, you can talk with your floral designer about securing arbors, trellises and other floral décor, so they don’t end up laying where they should be standing. You may also need help keeping linens in place and ensuring that your program attendant has a way to secure the programs until he or she is prepared to hand them to the guests.

Perhaps your event is completely indoors, and you and your snowboarding fiancé have planned a winter wedding so that you can head to the slopes as soon as it’s over! Will the venue’s maintenance staff de-ice the sidewalks and clear new accumulation that happens on your wedding day?

No Secrets

An informed guest is a happy guest, so don’t hold back information! Let them know in the invitation or on your wedding website that a portion of the celebration has been planned for outdoors. They will be delighted to plan their wardrobes accordingly and perhaps even adjust their arrival time. (It’s a nice added touch in warmer climates to have special indoor seating for your elderly guests that they can enjoy until just moments before the ceremony begins!) With so many wedding events breaking the traditional church-to-fellowship-hall mode, the more your guests know about your location and agenda in advance, the more relaxed and happy they will be!

Learn to Love the B

Ideally, you will have a Plan B option that is just as desirable to you as Plan A. And, if it happens that you find yourself going with your contingency plan, roll with it and don’t let it distract you from what is at the very heart of your wedding day! After all, surely your makeup artists and hair stylists have agreed to stay a little late for touch-ups right?