Outdoor Weddings and the Dreaded Rain Call

This past weekend I had a wedding in Savannah, Georgia. It was at the Mansion on Forsyth Park. It is a gorgeous property with a beautiful outdoor courtyard where couples love to tie the knot.

Outdoor weddings are very popular, particularly here in the South. The drawback is the weather. You cannot possibly predict exactly what the weather is going to be like. There are some months that are better than others in every city, but strange things happen.

Friday was beautiful… a little warm and humid, but that isn’t unusual for Savannah. Saturday morning was beautiful and a bit cooler (that was a definite warning). Saturday afternoon, was completely over cast with predictions of rain and tornado watches. UGH! This is the least favorite part of my job; making the rain call.

The rain call is easy when it is actually raining. But overcast skies are a nightmare for wedding planners and ceremony sites. We never want to disappoint the bride, but we have to protect the guests as well. Over the past sixteen years and the hundreds of outdoor weddings I have done, I have been put in a few bad spots.

One year we had a wedding at a resort in Orlando. The skies were gray, the radar predicted all kinds of storms, so finally the bride agreed to move the wedding inside. Guess what? It didn’t rain – not one drop! One of the groomsmen actually came up to my staff to ask if we could hose down the courtyard with water so the bride would think that it had actually rained. They were afraid of how she would react to the bone-dry ceremony site. Well, we didn’t soak the courtyard. The bride was disappointed, but she kept it in perspective. She took photos in the courtyard and all was well.

Another time, my bride insisted that the wedding take place outside, in spite of the fact that it had been raining all day. It stopped for a while and the sun came out (which, if you know anything about Florida, you would know that the sun turned all that rain on the ground into a steam bath), and she insisted we stay outside. The guests were not happy. It was unbearably hot, and we were surrounded on all sides by storm clouds. The bride made it down the aisle to the alter and the sky opened up. It rained like someone was dousing the ceremony site with buckets of water. Guests were running, and decorations were blowing away. It was terrible.

It was from that time on that I started preparing my brides from the moment that they choose an outdoor location, that they may have to relocate inside. I always tell them that I will do everything in my power to keep them with plan A, but must have a good back up plan B as well.

When we choose our ceremony decor, we choose it with the backup location in mind. When we make a photography list, we do it with the back up location in mind. Every step of the planning process keeps plan B in mind. It helps when the wedding day rolls around so that the bride is not as disappointed. Usually the bride is quite cooperative when I come to tell her that we have to move inside, because she has a vision of what it will look like already — plus I keep my ceremony doused with buckets of water in my back pocket at all times.

Fortunately, for my beautiful bride Courtney at the Mansion this past weekend, the courtyard was covered by a tent, and the staff was so helpful that they offered to cover the guests with umbrellas for the short leap between the lobby and the tent. We were all prepared for the rain. And guess what? In spite of the horrible clouds, it didn’t rain!

  • Sara

    I am planning on having my wedding on April 3, 2010 which is Easter weekend. Everyone is telling me not to do it because i want to have it outside, and my fiance and i have even argued several times about it. I don’t know what to do.

    • Mrs.Gandia-Ortiz

      Hi Sara
      this is YOUR day well your hubbys too
      but you should do what your heart tells you to do if you want an outdoor wedding DO IT 🙂

      I am getting married Dec1st on the beach and guess what? forecast says scattered thunderstorms and I have no back up plan lol
      I am just going with the flow since florida weather is always changing
      I wanted a beach wedding and I will have one rain or shine because it is what I want for MY wedding so go for it!! (but make sure to have a back up ;oP
      Good Luck!

      • Susan Southerland

        Hi Sara,

        Your comment is a very good one. I encourage couples to follow their hearts, but just as you mentioned, it is very important to have a good back up plan. Good luck on your wedding day. i will be thinking sunny thoughts on December 1.