Who’ll Stop The Rain?

When choosing our venue, we considered a lot of things: location, scenery, what they had to offer, and how we felt there. One thing we didn’t really consider? The rain back-up plan.

An outdoor ceremony was important to us: we didn’t want to get married in a church, and other non-church indoor venues didn’t feel very “wedding-y” to us. Plus, we both like spending time outside when it’s nice out. But. What happens if it’s not so nice out? When we picked our venue we were in denial that the weather on our wedding day could be anything other than perfect, but now that we’re drawing ever closer, it’s starting to sink in that it could be pouring, muddy, and awful on our wedding day.

The wedding party will be under the cover of the pavilion during the ceremony. But our guests will be out in the open, with nothing to shield them from the elements. Keeping the ceremony outdoors during inclement weather is definitely not an option.


We’ll be nice and dry under there”¦while our guests get soaked in chairs on either side of the aisle / Personal photo

Hive, I’m just going to be straight with you: I really hate our venue’s rain back-up plan.

Like, it would be devastating to me if we had to use it. I know you’re going to say that on the day of it won’t matter, that all I’ll care about is marrying Mr. Wizard. And I know that that’s true, and I’ll live if we have to use it. But, seriously, we only get to do this wedding thing once. I want it to be nice, and to live up to what I picture in my head, which is an outdoor ceremony. We don’t get any do-overs, so if we have to use the rain back-up plan, I will never get married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. And that makes me sad.

The back-up plan is to set up the reception hall with a makeshift aisle in the center of the guest tables. The guests sit at their tables for the ceremony, and we get married up front”¦in front of the head table. So, basically, for all intents and purposes, we’d be getting married at our reception. The appetizers and buffet would be all set up. The guests would pick up their place cards and find their tables. Some of them would be facing at awkward angles to watch the ceremony, and some would be really far away. There would be no divide between ceremony and reception, no “grand entrance.” And the guests would all be there to watch us take the formal family photos after the ceremony.

It just seems so”¦cobbled-together. Last-minute. I would be fine with getting married inside if they had the option of setting up an actual ceremony space (rows of chairs for the guests, no tables, an arch/candles/something to denote the “altar”), and then have their crew move the furniture around during cocktail hour so that it’s set up for a reception when the guests come back in. But that’s not an option, because there would be nowhere for the guests to go while this was happening. The winery is basically one room (the banquet room), with a small, separate storefront at one end. And that storefront will be open doing regular business during our wedding. Our contract doesn’t include use of the storefront area, so it’s out of the question.

So, for now, I’ll hope and pray and plead with the weather gods to have a dry, sunny (or even just cloudy! I’ll take clouds!) day on our wedding day. Send us good-weather vibes, Hive, we’re going to need them.

Does anyone else’s venue have a similar rain back-up plan as ours, or has anyone been to a wedding where the ceremony took place inside the reception room without it being reset? What was it like? Was it weird? Be totally honest, I’ve never been to a wedding like that so I can’t picture it, and I want to know what to (possibly) expect.


Mrs. Wizard

Wedding Date:
June 2012
Gallery of the Day
Building a Bridge

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  1. Member
    newfiebullet 2221 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:49 pm

    It really is hard to find nice, non-church, wedding places. At least it was in my area, also. What about renting a tent to house the guests under? I know they can be a bit pricey but you’d have your beautiful outdoor wedding regardless. I took at a few places that had the same set up for a ceremony, where it looked like a reception. I wasn’t a fan either!

  2. archer Member
    archer 551 posts, Busy bee @ 12:49 pm

    we were thinking about this last night- we have a similar setup, that the bridal party will be covered but guests are just on the lawn. the ballroom could hold everyone, but would not be idea, and our outdoor cocktail hour would also be history- making me wonder what to do with 140 people while the staff clears the chairs. so we are planning on sunshine, and if it is forcasted to rain i will melt down and then throw money at it (my stomach is in knots as i type this) and tent the whole front lawn to cover our guests.

    oyyy… i feel you girl. think positive, it will be sunny!

  3. Member
    farrey5 73 posts, Worker bee @ 12:54 pm

    I am definitely in your position too! I am getting married outside and the reception venue is at the same place, and would also be the back-up plan, which I hate and can’t stand the thought of! But, I just try to be very positive about it and tell yourself it’s not going to rain. That’s what I’ve been doing and it has helped a little bit

  4. unicycle Member
    unicycle 476 posts, Helper bee @ 12:57 pm

    I know what you mean about not getting do-overs. that’s why I’m so obsessed with getting everything perfect, and everyone thinks I’m nuts!

    If it makes you feel any better, my brother had his wedding ceremony in the reception room with guests seated at their tables. They planned it this way on purpose (not a rain plan) and it was actually really cool!

  5. Member
    viewfrmhere 333 posts, Helper bee @ 1:09 pm

    I had the same problem with my future-hubby’s dream location. The estate was AMAZING and the grounds were fabulous, but if it rained… no good. We would have had to have the ceremony indoors in one of the rooms the reception would be in, and while it would be set up like you’d imagine a ceremony would be, it wouldn’t fit all our guests and some would have to stand. In the end, we nixed the entire venue because of it. I love outdoor weddings but I totally feel your pain. Can you look into getting a tent for outside? They certainly add to the budget, but it might be worthwhile if you’re so concerned. They even make clear ones so you can still see the beautiful background. I’ll be hoping for great weather for you!!

  6. coyote Member
    coyote 1960 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:13 pm

    I’m praying for rain free wedding days for us Wiz!! I don’t have any advice for you. We *almost* booked with a venue that had a backup plan *just* like this and then decided to look elsewhere simply because their crappy backup plan gave me panic attacks. 😉

    Would you be willing to rent a tent? My cousin did that (it poured on her wedding day) and it turned out fine!

  7. Member
    nowdontletsbesilly 1428 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:38 pm

    Holy crap, you’re so right: “We don’t get any do-overs, so if we have to use the rain back-up plan, I will never get married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony” I hadn’t really thought about that, but it’s so true! I’ve always wanted an outdoor ceremony, but we’ve recently found a venue that is quite nice, but all inside with tons of windows, but now you’re making me doubt whether this would be a good plan or not, since it would mean giving up my outdoors dream! Then again, in Washington State, there is definitely no guarantee the weather would be nice enough to be outside. Wow. Lots to think about!

  8. hawk Member
    hawk 1117 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:38 pm

    I think the idea of using a plan-b would absolutely drive me insane, so I understand where you’re coming from. Keeping my fingers crossed that you have a cloud-free, sunny wedding day!

  9. msdragon Member
    Mrs. Dragon 814 posts, Busy bee @ 1:51 pm

    If it rains on us… I don’t really have a back-up plan at all, so people will likely be sitting in their chairs at their dinner tables in the tent and we’ll have to make an aisle somewhere. If there are torrential downpours, we’re completely screwed. I’m crossing my fingers for you!

  10. Member
    axeyourmakeupkit 2103 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:54 pm

    This would be a deal breaker for me. How about renting a tent????

  11. Member
    MistyLuv79 62 posts, Worker bee @ 2:02 pm

    Last year, before we got engaged, the FI and I attended a wedding where the ceremony and reception took place with no re-arranging of tables or moving to a new location. And, it was AWESOME! It’s actually what convinced us to have a one location wedding and reception ourselves.

    Once guests were there, they found their seats and it was nice to have a place for the night (i.e. no worries about finding a seat if I wanted to eat some apps during cocktails or where to put my purse). People turned their seats to watch the ceremony if they were at an odd angle and it wasn’t really a big deal.

    We’re in a very similar situation and knowing that I didn’t mind that set up makes me a little less crazy when I think about the possibility of rain on our Big Day.

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Raven Rose, Guest @ 2:05 pm

    Hi, this happened to us and it actually turned out well. Most of the guests who had akward seats stood around the sides of the tables or behind the head table and then we sat the vips (mum, grandma etc) at the head table. Everyone understood that we couldn’t control the weather and it really made for a very intimate ceremony as we were surrounded by friends and made for some really lovely photos. We then moved into cocktail hour which we stayed for rather than rushing of for formal family photos. We took those later on the dance floor before the first dance cheered on by everyone around us not that we had many. It really was a fun because everyone was a big part of everything. We didn’t miss the grand entrance at all. We had 100 guests. Good luck on your wedding I hope it stays fine.

  13. Member
    39bride 271 posts, Helper bee @ 2:17 pm

    @NowDontLetsBeSilly: @NowDontLetsBeSilly: @NowDontLetsBeSilly:

    Ladies, please forgive me if I am less than sensitive to your concerns, as yesterday we laid to rest a truly amazing man who leaves the world a much dimmer place. But, it all made so many things stark clear for me–there are so many worse things than having to be married in your beautiful reception hall, especially slim as that chance is. Truly. You will be marrying the man of your dreams and whether or not the backdrop is your ideal will have zero bearing on the marriage that will be consecrated (in a secular OR religious sense), zero bearing on the utter joy of being united with your Love.

    Go ahead and do everything you can to make your wedding days meet your dreams–it should! But where/when it can’t, please remember how blessed you are and the joy of what truly matters on that day.

    As for me, I’d be outdoors for our wedding in a split second. But when my church will be free and an outdoor setting will start at $600 (the one I really want is $1600), it’s not really an option. I’m very disappointed, but I know that when I stand in a cramped vestibule of our church with our friends and family, the spirit of my departed friend/mentor (and hopefully his widow as his representative) will be there along with all the people who are committed to helping us as we navigate a new path. We will be unbelievably blessed to unite in their presence, no matter where that presence is.

    Again, please forgive me if I am being rude. Yesterday is of course right there on my heart, and to read this post with the obvious stress it is causing Miss Wizard and some of the commenters, I was touched and genuinely sad to think that such a light thing was weighing so heavily on you.

    Respectfully offered…

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    Yolie, Guest @ 2:18 pm

    We thought about it as we do not have a back up our wedding is in September on the beach in Miami. We decided if it was raining or whatever, it will give us a great story to tell and we would just go with it……….make it part of our decor.

  15. Member
    RobynD99 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 2:22 pm

    Speaking from experience, we booked our venue last year, exactly a year before our wedding. It’s an outdoor venue, there’s a house you can use but the outside is just beautiful so most people have it exclusively outside. Well 2012 has been the wettest spring ever in Texas and i think it rained the whole week before my wedding. Of course a tent is not included in the cost, so last minute we had to rent a tent to have the ceremony, instead of the beautiful backdrop i’ve been envisioning. Dinner was crammed into the house into 3 separate rooms, but i guess it was better than being in the tent. Then dancing and drinks were back in the tent. It all turned out fine but it was just NOT what i had been planning the last 12 months. Needless to say, lots of money and tears later, it all ended up ok, but definitely have a SOLID backup plan if you’re having any part of your wedding outdoors.

  16. Member
    ashleighxcult 173 posts, Blushing bee @ 2:25 pm

    FI and myself are getting married in a beautiful outside garden at the art museum which is also acting as our reception space. Luckily, there’s an *okay* backup plan (ceremony space will still be separate from reception space) but I’m not a huge fan. So I took about an hour to look up our wedding date in a farmer’s almanac to determine weather. After searching back 10+ years, we’re 99% sure that it’ll be 75 and sunny the day of our wedding. *KNOCK ON WOOD*

  17. trailmix Member
    trailmix 6663 posts, Bee Keeper @ 2:29 pm

    Why don’t you just rent a tent to cover your guests for the ceremony? I think the stress relief would outweigh the costs, especially if you’d be so (understandably) upset if it does (which it won’t) happen to rain…

  18. Member
    josina 687 posts, Busy bee @ 2:34 pm

    I tried to plan my outdoor winery ceremony around the weather… choosing late August because it’s usually pretty dry?? My ‘rain plan’ is a barn veranda but it may not hold everyone without some standing and would still be damp. :/ SO it better not rain, but I had though/am still thinking about just investing in a bunch of white umbrellas… if bought in bulk they’d actually be cheaper than a tent, would make super cute pictures, and could be used to block the sun if it was sunny and hot out instead? The ushers could meet people at their vehicles with an umbrella. :)

  19. Member
    bride2beeva28 454 posts, Helper bee @ 3:26 pm

    This exact scenario happened at my friend’s wedding 2 weeks ago. She got married about an hour outside of Las Vegas. The weather leading up to the wedding was beautiful. The weather two days after the wedding was beautiful. The weather on the day of the ceremony/reception was AWFUL. It was windy and it poured. The ceremony and reception were moved inside, which she was incredibly disappointed about. The reason they chose to marry at the golf course was because of how beautiful the view is. Luckily those views are visible from the ballroom, which is where the ceremony was moved, and the ballroom itself was beautiful.

    I second Mrs. Trail Mix’s suggestion of renting a tent. No one wants to think it will rain at their outdoor wedding, but it really can and it’s best to be prepared.

  20. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:48 pm

    Our back up plan was a glorified shed–I hated it, but it worked out in the end thanks to some good weather thoughts. Hopefully it will be the same for you :)

  21. Member
    monique1218 416 posts, Helper bee @ 4:02 pm

    My fiance and I are CHOOSING to get married at our reception location…with guests seated at their tables during the ceremony. My aunt and uncle have a beautiful white arch that we are getting married under. We figure guests can just move their chairs if they are at a weird angle. We are having a processional and recessional and right after the recessional my fiance and I are going away for a bit to take pictures while guests enjoy cocktail hour. We WILL have a grand entrance when we come back to the reception space. I think it will be great!

    So I don’t think your plan B sounds bad. :)

  22. Member
    Michelle1227 18 posts, Newbee @ 5:40 pm

    My venue has 2 backup plans for rain – under the patio where cocktail hour is supposed to be (some wouldn’t be able to be seated though), or inside with your exact situation. I definitely panicked about it at first since neither are ideal, but there’s no controlling the weather. I’m going to do my best to just go with the flow and enjoy my wedding day no matter what.

    Thank you to everyone who said wedding ceremonies like this were actually a good thing. It put my mind even more at ease!

  23. Member
    xlittlemissbridex 532 posts, Busy bee @ 7:26 pm

    Our venue’s rain back-up plan is EXACTLY the same. Thinking about having to use it pretty much makes me want to cry. Our wedding is also in October in Michigan. Therefore, we not only have rain to worry about but freezing cold temperatures. I’ll keep our fingers crossed for both of us!! :)

  24. Member
    mrs.PHAN-tastic 129 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:09 pm

    I’m feeling the same way! But our wedding is in 10 days! We live and are getting married in central California. It has been a warm and dry winter but when March came it start raining atleast 2-3 times a week! I’m very curious to see the weather report for next week! Good luck to you!! Hopefully June will be good to you! In California it would be fine, but I’m hoping the same where you live!!

  25. Guest Icon Guest
    Sophia, Guest @ 11:30 pm

    Mrs Tartlet got married in her reception space and it was gorgeous!

  26. mswizard Member
    mswizard 554 posts, Busy bee @ 5:27 am

    Ohh I’m so glad to hear that people have done the ceremony-in-reception-space thing and it didn’t suck!! You guys seriously talked me down from a ledge here :) And thanks for all the good weather juju!

  27. Guest Icon Guest
    Brittney, Guest @ 5:35 am

    Wiz…I have been to SEVERAL weddings where this was the case. We sat at the reception tables, and the Bride and Groom and bridal party stood up front. After the ceremony part, the bride/groom and bridal party all left the room (just as they would have processed down the aisle) and then re-entered after their pictures. Still allowing for the grand entrance!

    Also, just remember, it could always be worse. My best friend’s wedding was in Nashville the year of those horrible floods. Her outdoor wedding/outdoor reception had to all be moved inside of a tiny farm house. We were rushing around moving these people’s furniture so as to fit everyone who could make it (over half of their guests were unable to make it due to the flood waters) in. All of her decorations and DIY efforts were rained out (as we had set up all the decorations the night before/morning of when it seemed it was just going to be a drizzle). Only a few were salvageable – and we did the best we could to use those decorations to make the fireplace in the farm house a somewhat alter.

    In the end, it was beautiful. My friend was disappointed that she didn’t get to have the wedding she had dreamed of, but was so thankful that we were all there to help make the best of it.

    I only tell you this, because it helped to keep my perspective when my outdoor wedding was threatened by Irene last summer. It really is true, whatever happens you’ll be married, and that’s what’s important. But rest assured – it’s ok to be disappointed if the outcome isn’t what you want.

    Sending you tons of positive thoughts and prayers for good weather!!

  28. Member
    FutureMrsSpencer 526 posts, Busy bee @ 6:54 am

    This is exactly why we are getting married in my church. We chose our venue because it was one within our price range that offered an outdoor ceremony space. After talking with the owners, we realized that Memorial day weekend is hit or miss when it comes to the weather in NJ. We can get rain and heat all in the same weekend. He showed us that we would have the ceremony all in one room and we both said “CHURCH!” There is something about having everything in the same room that I am not comfortable with. Even though it is all the same, I just want that element of surprise when our guests walk into the ballroom for the first time. As much as I love the outside space at our venue, I can’t risk the chance of rain. So my church it is!

  29. Member
    WoodenShoes 389 posts, Helper bee @ 11:34 am

    i may have a useful tip from a guests perspective! ill start by saying here in the netherlands, a couple has to get married first by the state at city hall, and then if they want to, they can get married at church. when a couple of our friends got married, their city hall portion was outside right by the water with a really beautiful (semi enclosed) gazebo. so pretty similar to your situation. they were covered but guests were exposed. their rain plan? no rain plan. they wouldve had to pay twice, (once for the indoor room and once for the outdoor space). on their wedding day, it rained. and we brought umbrellas!! she even had a pretty white one to carry as she walked down the aisle. so assuming it isnt torrential hurricane weather, maybe just tell your guests to bring umbrellas! it worked for us :)

  30. Member
    kmnowlan 207 posts, Helper bee @ 1:15 pm

    Check out Mrs. Tartlet’s wedding! Everyone was sitting in their reception seats, just turned. It was gorgeous!!!

  31. Member
    kmnowlan 207 posts, Helper bee @ 1:17 pm

    @39bride- I’m sorry for your loss. I think you have beautiful perspective. While I’ll admit, I was very worried it would rain on our wedding day, I agree with you that marrying your best friend is what is important. Thanks for bringing us all back to what is really important on our big days!

  32. Member
    kikigurl 172 posts, Blushing bee @ 12:09 pm

    I was just married on March 24th. My ceremony was on the beach and the reception on the pavilion overlooking the ocean under the stars….it didn’t happen. It was gorgeous all week leading up to my wedding day. Heck it was gorgeous all morning leading up to my ceremony and the radar showed small spots here and there but nothing to make us say lets go indoors. So we set it all up and everything was ready to go… I put on my dress I had less than an hour and I see the dark clouds roll in. I looked at the radar it seems those small spots clumped together and made a big cell. Then down came the rain. I didn’t cry I kept saying it will be fine they are moving everything…I really didn’t know what was going on my coordinator was handling it. Then I called my now husband who was hanging out with the guys and as soon as I heard his voice I couldn’t keep the tears from coming. It was heartbreaking all the hardwork I did was destroyed by the rain. I did end up having the ceremony outside under the gazebo when the rain let up after an hour and sun shined again. The day was dry and beautiful from then on. I got my pictures on the beach it turned out fine. My decor was ruined and the reception was moved indoors but I got over it. I saw how much fun everyone was having I just didn’t care anymore. It all worked out. So my advice is go with what you want and even if it doesn’t turn out perfect just know it will be okay. Good luck and best wishes to you and all the brides out there :)

  33. Member
    Sparkle030 196 posts, Blushing bee @ 2:01 am

    when is the wedding. ive tried to find your wedding date and i cant!

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