How to Plan an Outdoor Wedding at a Northern California Venue for Any Season

Posted on July 11, 2017

You don't need to be nervous about planning your wedding at an outdoor venue in Northern California.

“Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think? It’s like rain on your wedding day,” sings Alanis Morissette in her classic hit song. But, what’s truly ironic is that rainy wedding days are some of the most beautiful and unique and iconic in our memories. Still, you’re forgiven for hoping that the rain stays away on your wedding day, no matter how badly Northern California might need it.

If you’re planning a wedding in April, May, June, September, or October—not to mention the deep fall and winter months—there is some chance of rain at an outdoor wedding venue in Northern California. But don’t panic! And don’t jump to change your wedding date! We’re going to share some ideas for how you can plan your perfect outdoor wedding even with the possibility of rain and how you can look to your all-inclusive venue for their expertise and creative ideas for weddings in any season.

What to Do if It Rains on Your Wedding Day in Northern California

First of all, don’t think of it as planning for the worst. Instead, lean into the notion that your wedding is going to be special and perfect, no matter what. Just as you’re strategizing a seating plan to minimize unwanted drama and building an emergency kit in case of any little mishaps on the day, you’re approaching your venue as a versatile setting that can respond to Northern California’s weather eccentricities. There’s plenty of time for careful, creative planning—and, as much as you want to believe your big day will be clear and sunny, it pays to be realistic starting now and to factor in your figurative contingency umbrella. Like Alanis reminds us, “Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you.”

Outdoor Wedding Rain Plan Ideas

Your very first step in prepping for uncertain weather is to reach out to your venue. Ideally, there is a venue coordinator always within reach to answer your questions and collaborate to design the wedding day. Your venue and its staff should have plenty of experience preparing and adapting the space in the event of wind and rain. Your Plans A and B start here because you’re going to need to work with the venue and the possibilities it offers. Ask them what they’ve done in the past to ensure a stellar wedding experience even when the ironic happens. Many outdoor venues in Northern California have different spaces where you can hold your ceremony and reception on the property that can offer different amounts of shelter and protection. For example, a redwood grove offers a natural canopy that filters out some of the rain and wind.

Another Plan B step would be to get in touch with some vendors who provide large tents and other structures. Ask them how late in the game you’d be able to secure a rental. If you can find a vendor who will agree to rent to you as late as one or two weeks before your event, then you have a backup for when the event gets closer and you’re able to evaluate the weather forecasts. If there is even a small chance of inclement weather, it’s better to be safe than wet and sorry.

Rainy Wedding Day Photography Tips

Rainy photos from your wedding day are actually devastatingly romantic. Ask any photographer: overcast days are actually the best for soft light and for colors to show up even brighter. But it would be a good idea to ask your prospective photographer how much experience they have shooting weddings in the rain. It could be a disaster if they don’t know how to compensate and troubleshoot, or it could be an unexpected boon if they know how to really make the most of the unique circumstance.

Imagine a scene. . .

<>  where you’re both embracing under some kind of outdoor overhang or even on the inside of an open doorway with the rain pouring down behind you while you’re dry and cozy in the foreground.

<>  at the end of the day when you no longer care about the state of your dress and hair, and you’re running, carefree, hand-in-hand, away from the camera with water splashing up around you.

<>  where you’re lifting your white skirt up just enough to reveal cute, brightly colored rain boots in the middle of a puddle.

<>  with your whole wedding party reflected in a puddle.

<>  with only a simple umbrella carving out a space for you two to stand in the rain. It’s the classic rainy day wedding photo op.

Resources and Accessories for Your Rainy Wedding Day

Even with your Plan B venue or tent, you’ll want to anticipate the need for umbrellas. Consider two separate umbrella categories: those for you and the wedding party and some for your guests. You’ll probably want to be a bit more selective about the ones for the wedding party because they may make regular appearances in your photos. A great standard choice would be to purchase enough clear plastic umbrellas for the wedding party—and likely the officiant and your parents, too, since they’re also part of the ceremonies. Even with these clear umbrellas floating over everyone’s head, you can see them through the plastic! But you could also use the weather to your advantage and introduce a fun color scheme in your umbrellas.

Then, you’ll want to provide some back-up umbrellas for your guests, whether you’ll all be out under the open sky or under a secondary structure, your guests will appreciate the option to move from one area to another without having to get wet. With enough time to plan, you can get a message out to your guests to bring umbrellas just in case. A wedding website can be a quick and efficient way to make this request. Then, you’ll need to provide fewer umbrellas just for those who forget or miss the message.

As you’re pulling together items from your day-of emergency list, be sure to add things like extra towels for quickly soaking up any splashes and perhaps even a small tarp. When you’re making your way into or out of the car, there’s enough to worry about be careful of with your wardrobe—you don’t want to also be worrying about getting wet and having to sprint from the car to wherever you’re headed. Ask others to hold the tarp open over you, so you can take your time and transition safely and in style.

The Advantages of Planning Your Wedding During the Potentially Rainy Season

The demand for wedding venues and vendors is obviously highest during the so-called “wedding season.” By planning your wedding date on the season’s outskirts, especially earlier in the spring, you’ll probably be able to find some great promotions. Plus, your event will have a better chance of standing out from the rest, piled up in Northern California’s peak wedding season. If you can trust your venue and keep an open and positive mind about the fact that your wedding is going to be a perfect adventure however it unfolds, you’ll be on your way to stressing less and enjoying more of the whole process.

The small steps to putting your contingency plan in place are simple and can pave the way for a stress-free, equally beautiful ceremony and reception. If you have only a minimal outdoor Plan A and the clouds do decide to be ironically generous, your plan will be “like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.” Work instead with your wedding coordinator to decide on the design of your knife and how you will keep it sharp—it’s all you need to cut through the worries and just enjoy yourselves.
 
We’re here to help you enjoy yourself, not just on the wedding day, but also on the wedding planning journey itself. Get in touch with us today to see if our many magnificent ceremony and reception spaces match your seasonal wedding day vision.

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