What do you do if it rains on your wedding day?
This past summer was one of the driest ever on Vancouver Island. We were on extreme water restrictions and I have never seen so many yellow lawns. Despite all this, I have never had so many rainy weddings because the only times rain showed up was on Saturdays. Fortunately things still went beautifully, but there is always that moment of worry on a brides face while she is getting ready.
For all future brides, helping moms and bridesmaids, here is a list of tips on what to do if it rains on your wedding day.
#1 Start With an Open Mind – I don’t like discussing rain when going through the day plan with couples, but I find if they already have imagined what changes they would make IF it rains, they will always find it less stressful if they are have prepared their mind for what the wedding day could look like.
This past summer, one of my wedding days started off as a cool breezy misty day. As the ceremony time got closer, the raindrops got bigger and a decision had to be made. It was time to move the ceremony. Luckily there was a covered deck that still allowed the Jody and Steve to have the ocean view ceremony they wanted while keeping everyone dry.
#2 Be Flexible with Your Timeline – First of all, don’t set a timeline that requires everything to go exactly according to plan. Build buffers in your timeline incase things happen. This can of course include rain, but other things come up too such as a car troubles, hair or makeup going long, uncle Bob disappearing during family formals etc. Assuming you have some flexibility built into your schedule, going to your backup plan shouldn’t mess up the timeline too much which can reduce unwanted stress. That being said, PLEASE DON’T BE AFRAID TO WAIT THINGS OUT. If things look like they could clear, making an early snap decision to move things inside only to have the sun break through can be a shame. Sometimes logistics of the locations don’t allow for last minute decisions so use your judgement too. Just try to be okay with your scheduling changing a tiny bit because guests will understand.
After Jody and Steve’s ceremony we could sense that the rain was getting lighter. We figured if we waited another 15 minutes we might be able to go out to the beach and avoid getting soaked. Luckily we were right and Steve and Jody used this time to mingle with their guests. Once outside it was just a light mist of rain the remainder for the afternoon.
There often is a window that opens when the rain stops (or slows). Flexible timelines allowing couples to wait things out is such a nice luxury.
What if you don’t have an undercover area at the ceremony site?
#3 Safe Spot – Pick an absolute worst case scenario safe spot for your ceremony. This literally could be inside someone’s house, but just somewhere that would allow things to proceed if the rain didn’t look like it would ever stop and was way to heavy to endure. The reception venues (if covered / indoors) is usually the go-to space.
#4 Remember What the Day is About – This is more of a mindset than anything. In 2013, I took these images above during a day that started off sunny and literally 10 minutes before the ceremony we had what I can only describe as a monsoon-like storm. Karrie (the bride) was waiting in the limo for guests to arrive so she could walk down the aisle to see Bryan (her groom), but as she saw the rain picking up she elected to wait inside the dry limo. We did not have an undercover outdoor area, but the reception space was nearby and family and friends were able to rearrange the tables to create an aisle and the wedding was moved there. The bride and groom were all smiles because they knew the wedding day was all about the love that they shared and celebrating that with friends and family. Please do not forget the true purpose of the wedding day. It is perfect when family and friends gather to support two people in-love promising themselves to each other in any kind of weather.
Following the ceremony we had inches of water flowing the streets. Our plan to head to the beach didn’t seem so good anymore. There were rivers flowing down the streets and the beach would be pretty sloppy. Luckily we were able to head to a different location that offered some interior options. By the time we were done inside, the flowing water had done it’s thing and we were outside creating beautiful photos in a vineyard. Having that buffer time, being flexible and focusing on what the day was about helped Karrie and Bryan remain joyous and get great photos.
#5 Experience Matters – When selecting your photographer, look for various images with different lighting conditions and a variety of weather in their portfolio. If you don’t see any, maybe ask to see some. It makes sense that photographers will post their best work to their website, but if all the images are on a perfect sunny day then you might want to see some on a cloudy day or vice-versa. If all the venues are outdoors, make sure you see some indoor imagery too. You just might end up needing photos inside somewhere dry. If you see a well rounded selection of images giving you peace of mind that your photographer can create beautiful images in any light or location, you know you can be guaranteed stunning imagery.Personally, I don’t mind shooting in the rain. My gear is all weather proofed so I can get pretty wet. I also usually work with an assistant who can also help keep the couple dry. Check if this is the case with your photographer for additional peace of mind.
Most exciting of all, there are a ton of cool techniques experienced photographers have in different conditions. Maybe they can add an element that you wouldn’t get on a sunny day. One of my favourites is backlighting a couple. Your photographer would need to be equipped with off-camera strobes and plenty of experience too. The image below was taken during a maternity session of Anna (a past bride of mine). I actually asked Anna if she would be okay waiting for a rainy evening so we could get this shot.
#5 Pack Some Rainproofing Items – There are a ton of things that can help save rainy photos. I usually pack a number of these items myself, but incase your photographer doesn’t here are some things to think about picking up.
- Umbrellas – Super obvious right, but here are some things to think about. One good large one is nice for the couple, but I always like carrying a couple extras for the wedding party too. Our local drug store actually has some nice black ones for $12 that I have used for years. I personally don’t like the coloured ones. From a distance they add a nice pop of colour to the photos, but the light that comes through them changes the skin tones on the couple. For example a green umbrella casts a greenish light onto the couples faces so unless the groom is The Hulk this is not a sought after look. I prefer to incorporate coloured umbrellas for wider shots where the light cast on the face is less noticeable and that pop of colour can add that perfect splash to a rainy scene. A black, white or clear one is more ideal for tighter shots.
- Gum Boots – These could be to incorporate into the photos OR just for practicality. If you’re heading onto a beach and want to avoid sinking into the sand these can be great. Of course if you want to embrace the rain then showing them off in some photos can be fun too! Alternatively flip flops can be nice too. Yes the feet will get wet, but the shoes will stay dry for the reception.
- Towels – This is also something I keep in my bag (or car). Being able to dry a bench, rocky ledge or whatever element I might want my couples to sit on allows me to give them more variety in their images — instead of just standing poses.
- Soulmates High Heeler – These are a must for any damp grassy ground. Even if it isn’t raining on the day itself preventing your heels from getting stuck in soft damp grass with every step you take is pretty awesome.
“We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain … and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.”
– Forrest Gump
Some couples however, cannot imagine their images any other way than bright, sunny, warm, cozy or at a particular location. They may not have got that classic image they were hoping for, or maybe they had a very small window of time due to weather.
#8 Schedule a ‘Day-After-Session’ – These don’t actually have to be the day after. Sometimes after returning from the honeymoon is common. These sessions can be worked around the weather since guests aren’t involved. They are also pretty affordable compared to the wedding day coverage because the coverage is shorter and can be done midweek. Not only will couples get some dry photos, but they can select a unique location that may have been too much of a journey on the wedding day. As a bonus, couples could even end it off with a trash the dress session. Obviously not a necessity, but I will point out, trash the dress session don’t always end up with a trashed dress. Water dries and other items (like ice-cream) wash out – with a hose according to a couple that did this with me. If paying for dry-cleaning you may as well make it worth your money!
A tip not for everyone.
#9 First Looks – A first look (where the bride and groom meet in a secluded place before the ceremony) is not for everyone, but for those that plan one, there is a rainproofing bonus. Usually following the intimate moment where the couple meets (often providing some cute or tear jerking photos), they head off for their portraits. Having this time early on can help on a rainy day incase it isn’t raining early on. If it is raining during the first look they still have a large part of the day to await some clear skies. Basically there is a bigger window to find a dry weather.
Just remember if you prepare your mind for it, surround yourself with helpful fiends, family and experienced professionals, things should go off without a hitch. Below are a couple of images where we were forced to shoot undercover or indoors. We would have never captured these photos had the weather been sunny. I am so proud of these and thank the rain for pushing us to these locations.
If you found this useful and are planning a wedding on Vancouver Island, here is a post on some of the best wedding venues on central Vancouver Island.