No matter how well you've planned everything else, you can't control the weather. So why waste time worrying about it?
That was my motto when I was a bride and it served me well. At this time four years ago, I was about to get married, and I was facing some ugly weather conditions. I'd picked an August date for my outdoor ceremony because August is usually warm and dry in Michigan. But then Michigan proceeded to have the coldest summer on record since the 1930s. The week leading up to my wedding, it rained every day and the temperature stayed in the low 60s. My poor bridesmaids were set to wear strapless, knee length gowns in sweatshirt weather.
On the night before my wedding, someone asked me if I was worried about the rain, and I told them (honestly) that I wasn't. I figured the thing that would make my wedding day a failure or a success would be my attitude more than anything else. If I, the bride, was happy and calm, everyone else would be too. And if it really poured buckets and drenched us, everyone would remember how I smiled and laughed through it all.
At our rehearsal dinner, one of Griffin's friends got up and gave a beautiful toast. He knew some people were worried the rain might ruin our plans, but he had a different perspective. He'd grown up among the Maasai people in Africa. Their region is very dry, and they treasure every drop of water. When it rains, all the families and tribes gather together to celebrate. And if it rains on your wedding day, you are considered especially blessed. So, he said, we would be very blessed indeed to have rain on our wedding. This led to my dad getting up and talking about how there was a thunderstorm on his wedding day and his marriage was one of his greatest blessings. Pretty awesome huh?
Of course, we also had a backup plan. If it rained, we could have the ceremony in the tented reception area. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but, again, it was out of my hands.
On my wedding day, it did drizzle a bit in the morning. But about an hour before my ceremony, it warmed up, the clouds rolled back, and we even had a few rays of sunshine. After cocktails, the guests went into the tent for the reception, and then a gentle rain started.
Since then, I've photographed quite a few weddings where rain was a factor--including one Hurricane Irene wedding. In every case, my motto held true--if the bride was happy, no one worried about rain.
Still, there are a few things you can do to be prepared. Most importantly: have a backup location for your outdoor events (ceremony, portraits, cocktail hour, etc.) Most venues have a location on site that they use in case of rain. Second, keep a few supplies on hand: extra shoes for the bride (maybe some awesome Hunter boots), ziploc bags to protect phones and other electronics inside purses and pockets, and cute matching umbrellas for the wedding party.
If you send someone out to buy umbrellas, keep in mind that white or clear ones are the best for photos. Colored umbrellas cast their hue onto the faces of the people below, and dark umbrellas block light and put faces in shadow.
I bring umbrellas to every wedding for the bride and groom to use in case of rain. I recently busted them out for Micah and Becky's post-ceremony portraits. There was a light drizzle, so we scrapped our planned location and moved to a vine-covered gazebo.
Aren't those lovely? And we never would have stopped at this location if it hadn't rained. So remember, stay calm, be flexible, keep some white or clear umbrellas nearby, and you'l have a great time on your wedding day no matter the weather.