Outdoor Weddings- What to do when Mother Nature takes over

Yesterday  the temperature reached 90 degrees in Chicago which is a new record, breaking the previous record which was held for 115 years. So, it seems, today is great day to think about outdoor weddings and possible pitfalls the weather could bring.

Outdoor weddings can be so beautiful, having the sunshine and flowers surrounding you while you take this momentous step forward. Unfortunately, Mother Nature may not have the same idea as you. When you plan an outdoor wedding, it is always essential to have a backup plan. Most venues have a staff which can assist you in developing this plan. It is essential that you develop an emergency plan well in advance – this is not the kidn of thing you want to have to come up with at the last minute. In some cases, you have little warning regarding the weather and you will need to put your plan in place very quickly. If you are planning a destination wedding, study the weather trends in the area surrounding your wedding venue for that time of year so there are no surprises at the last minute.

Tornado season in the midwest is  April through July. Planning an outdoor wedding in Spring when all of the flowers are in full bloom is both beautiful and tricky. Discuss the option of an indoor pavillion available  in case of high winds or rainfall or perhaps you can move the ceremony directly to the reception site. In reality, the ideal outdoor wedding location has an indoor location waiting… just in case. It is good to note that tents may not always be  a good idea during wind or rain. It is also important to make sure the bride, groom and attendants all use a little extra  product to keep their hair in place.

July, August and even September can be hot, really hot. In order to make sure your guests don’t overheat during an outdoor ceremony on a blistering summer afternoon, provide each chair with bottled water and perhaps a hand fan.  Make sure that there is  shade available to provide some relief. Those having a daytime outdoor wedding should orient the ceremony so that the sun will be on guests’ backs rather than in their eyes.

September through November is the perfect time to take advantage of the colorful trees and foliage before they go into hibernation for the winter.  But, even the most beautiful fall day can come with setbacks. November in particular can host anything from rain to snow. I would limit a fall wedding to end of October, knowing that if the weather takes a sudden dip you might have to provide outdoor heaters or…. move the ceremony inside.

Remind your guests to dress accordingly. If it suddenly gets cool, make sure you add a layer of outerwear and maybe gloves. If you anticipate even one raindrop, bring an umbrella.

Make sure the venue does not have any maintenance scheduled that day. You don’t want your voices  drowned out by weed-whackers and lawn mowers.

A sound system that includes microphones for the bride and groom might be a good idea since there may be other outisde noise. Airplanes and sirens come to mind. Talk to your DJ about this, it may be something he or she could easily include in your package.

Lastly, always remember that for every problem there is a solution. And always, always, always have a backup plan!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago