Some of the most memorable weddings I have photographed have been pretty wet and windy and it honestly doesn’t have any impact on what it means to you as a couple on the day itself or in the future. Five or more years from now the very last thing on your mind will be the weather on your wedding day.
Many cultures in fact believe rain on a wedding day is a sign of blessing and luck. So whether you are superstitious or just prefer to look on the bright side, think of it this way: Who couldn’t use a little good luck on their big day?
That said, we are a pretty weather obsessed nation in the UK and, on the run up to their wedding, many couples I speak to do worry a bit about what will happen if they have a very wet or stormy day. The recent flooding and other extreme weather can also really affect the logistics of a wedding, particularly if you live in certain areas of the country, have guests travelling long distances, are moving around during the day or there is an outdoor element to your wedding. So here are some of the best things you can do to help make your day go well, even in bad weather:
1. Make sure you have wedding insurance
It’s hardly the most exciting thing to talk about but… having a wedding insurance policy is really important for all sorts of reasons and a lot of policies will give you some level of cover in the event of really extreme weather. Severe weather could mean your venue is closed or inaccessible and you may lose money you have already spent while having to pay out additional money to find an alternative. I saw this happen a few years back when several venues in the West Country were flooded. There are specific insurance policies available if you are planning a bigger, more elaborate outdoor ceremony and want to be sure you are covered.
2. Have a wet wedding weather plan
I am a real list, plan (and nice stationary!) lover and I do really think the best way to put your mind at ease is to think about how each part of the day will unfold and come up with a wet weather plan. It’s much easier to do this in advance and plan for bad weather, only to end up with a dry day than the other way around.
There are often parts of the day where you can plan to do one thing if it is dry and have a different plan for the same activity if it is wet. You would usually have conversations with both your venue and your photographer about wet weather options so you have a back up plan and it helps to think it all through in advance rather than on the day itself so you have time to borrow or buy things you might need like umbrellas or wellies (more on that below).
3. Keep an eye on the forecast in the week before the wedding to help with last minute planning
A week to a few days before is really the earliest you can have any real idea of what the weather might do. Once you have got an idea, if it does look like being wet windy or cold you can organise details such as:
- if you are travelling to your ceremony, arranging for you or your wedding party get picked up at the door to reduce time out in the wet;
- if it looks like being much colder than expected, buying a few extra layers like stoles, pashminas or other extra clothing;
- planning to take any family or group photos that you might like at particular times or in certain places to take advantage of the weather (for me, this is part of my job and I keep a real eye on the weather forecast in the days before a wedding);
- if you’re getting married on a farm or somewhere that could turn wet and muddy thinking about access (I have seen matting be put down the day before a wedding in severe cases for access to a field or marquee);
- if you haven’t already got umbrellas sorted you can borrow or buy a few big brollies (clear, white or coloured ones look really nice in pictures as long as they don’t have any obvious branding on them);
- making a few tweaks to your plans so your guests can cozy up on a rainy day with things like hot chocolate or warm cider, marshmallows, heat lamps or fire pits or having a basket of blankets handy;
- involving the wedding party or other helpers in holding brollies over guests or helping with getting people (and any wheelchairs or children’s buggies) from cars or in to churches or venues.
In the first picture above, we are in a sheltered archway, out of the bad weather. Below, the Bride has a warmer layer on and we are in a barn which has lovely light.
3. Outdoor ceremonies
If getting married outdoors is important to you then you will have probably spent time looking for a venue where that is available. If you have a wet forecast but still don’t want to rule out the possibility of getting married outside, you can often delay a final decision until quite close to your ceremony time (depending a bit on your venue and what you are doing). This is another area where having people on hand to help is a good idea if there are things that need moving like seats or decorations.
Some couples I know have included an ‘ in case of rain’ section on their stationary or website so guests know there are a couple of possible options. You can then let guests know what is happening and most people really appreciate this kind of information, particularly anyone coming with children or with any mobility issues.
4. Have some spare shoes!
I am not a real shoe person and (within reason!) I didn’t mind if my wedding shoes got a bit dirty as I knew I’d never wear them again. However if you do love your shoes, you may not want to spend a lot of money on a gorgeous pair, only to have them ruined by rain or mud! It’s really easy to bring a spare pair of shoes with you and some couples buy some Converse or wellies, both of which you can wear afterwards. I have seen couples really go to town on this and have a bright coloured or personalised pair with their names or things like Mr and Mrs.
5. Look at the outdoors differently
If the weather isn’t too bad then there might be covered areas outside that you can use such as canopies, summerhouses, archways or overhanging roofs. For me, the most important thing is that people are relaxed and enjoy their wedding day whatever the weather, so I’ll plan out how we might use any covered areas outside or nice spaces inside. In this picture at Bristol Zoo, you can see that we are in an area with an overhanging roof, which is perfect for wet days.
6. Allow enough time
Figuring out wedding day timing is such a big topic for a lot of couples but, in essence, a bit more time than you think you’ll need is a really good idea. If you have allowed enough time throughout the day, then it is a lot easier for travelling if the weather is bad or if you want to nip outside and take advantage of any dry spells. If you are sitting down and looking through your timings, it doesn’t hurt to include a bit of extra time at various points in the day so you have a bit of a safety margin for bad weather and don’t end up feeling rushed.
7. Make the most of breaks in the showers
It’s actually really rare that I have photographed a wedding where we didn’t get outside at some point in the day. Some of this is down to having enough time but it is also about going with the flow a bit. If you really want some time outside, be prepared to just nip out if you get a little break in the weather. Even with a really bad forecast, I have seen plenty of weddings where there are little breaks in the showers and if you are prepared to just go for it when that happens you can have an amazing time and get some great pictures. There are several opportunities in a wedding day where you can do this and not be away from your guests for too long, for example between courses or after the meal while the band or evening entertainment are setting up for the evening reception. The shot below was taken when I nipped onto the beach with the Bride and Groom after it had rained all morning.
8. Have a kit for make-up and hair touch ups
Wind and rain may not be your best friend if like me you have frizzy hair (!) and no one likes runny mascara…. but you can still look your best on your wedding day if you pack a few things in a handy bag (like a hairbrush, extra hair grips, tissues, spare make up etc).
9. Think of the positives
Wet or overcast and windy weather actually has a few advantages:
- wedding bouquets and other flower decorations will last longer and are less likely to wilt if it is wet;
- you won’t have anyone getting sunburnt or far too hot in suits and jackets;
- the light can be much softer and better for photographs (things like water and mist are lovely for reflections and more creative shots and I have taken some lovely pictures with veils blowing around a bit in the wind);
- people love cozying up on a rainy day and you may find the weather keeps everyone together with a really good atmosphere and people chatting and laughing together instead of spreading out as they would if it was sunny.
10. Don’t panic!
You’re getting married to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and you’ll have the people around you that mean most to you in the world so enjoy it! Even if you have checked the forecasts all week and tried to put in place a few strategies to cope with bad weather, unlike some other aspects to a wedding, you can’t control it or change it if does decide to bucket down all day. What you can do is decide that whatever the weather, you’ll be in the moment, take everything in and have a brilliant time, however you are spending the day.
Finally.…I love sayings and quotations and there is one that seems particularly apt for a wedding day; the start of your new married life together:
‘Life is not so much about waiting for the storms to pass as it is about learning to dance in the rain.’