How to Plan a Wedding with Weather in Mind

Hi friends! As you might have seen in our spring newsletter that we published a couple of weeks ago, I was supposed to get married back in April…but of course, COVID-19 had other plans and we ultimately decided to postpone our big day. However, before the pandemic, I had drafted this blog to share how to plan your wedding while considering the effects that the weather might have on your day. Of course, you can’t predict what the weather will be when you set your date, but there are some things you can do to give yourself the best chances for your ideal wedding weather.

Identify your Ideal Scenario

Do you dream of a beach wedding with lots of sunshine, or do you dream of stunning wedding photos with a dreamy winter wonderland backdrop? Knowing your vision is important before setting the date and place. Once you’ve locked down a location – or at least a general area, think about the ideal range of temperatures and take a look at climatology in that area. Personally, my fiance and I wanted warm – but not too warm temperatures…which pretty much eliminated summer where we planned to get married. Ideally, we were hoping for mid-60s to upper-70s. One way to check the average (and extremes) for a particular date and place to look online at the data available from the National Weather Service. Once you’re on the homepage, click the area you’re interested in on the map, which will take you to your local National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office home page. From there, you can select “Climate and Past Weather” (link highlighted by red box in screenshot below).

From there, there are numerous resources available that will most likely answer any questions you have. If you select NOWData (highlighted in red in the screenshot on the left below), there are numerous tools available to you. Use 1. Location to select the location you are interested in. To begin with a general overview of the area you’ve selected, I recommend choosing “Daily/monthly normals” (the fifth option down under 2. Product). This will provide a graph and table of the total normal precipitation, as well as the mean minimum, maximum, and average temperatures for a calendar year, which will help narrow down your window a bit (example of the graph to the right below) .

Once you’ve settled on your perfect window frame, grab a calendar and pick a few dates. Then you can choose “Climatology for a day” (sixth option down under 2. Product), select a date, and see a Table of Maximum and Minimum Temperatures, Precipitation, Snowfall, and Snow Depth. There is a table that gives you information for each year, as well as a summary table that will high light the maximum, average, and minimum, along with the percent of years the temperature , precipitation, snow fall, and snow depth reached certain thresholds (example for March 2 for the Albany, New York area shown below)

Remember to think about what time of day you’re hoping to get married as well. For example, if you’re planning an evening wedding, you might want to look at the minimum temperatures versus the maximum temperatures as temperatures fall throughout the day. Once you have a better idea of the range of possibilities in weather for different dates, it will be much easier for you and your significant other to decide on a date.

Preparation is the Key to Success

Now that you’ve locked in a date and location, there are several other things that you need to confirm….florists, catering, photography, the list goes on and on. One thing you definitely don’t want to forget? A back up plan. This is especially important for brides who have chosen to get married outdoors. Although beautiful, this route can definitely add extra stress if not thought out ahead of time. Depending on your venue, you’ll need to discuss your options with your vendors (including the caterers, florists, band or DJ, photographer, and others). Will you (can you?) rent a tent, or can/should it be moved inside?

When to Start Checking the Weather

While you already have a general idea of what the weather will be like thanks to the climate research you did early on, it’s important to remember that climate is like your personality, and weather is like your mood. There is no guarantee that what is climatologically normal will occur. You’ll be able to start monitoring the weather conditions that the National Weather Service has forecast for your big day 5-6 days ahead of time, but you’ll get the most accurate forecast the closer you get to the big day.

Oh No! _____ is in the Forecast

If it looks like there will be scattered showers, find the weather weenie in your circle (I’m sure you have at least one! And if not – feel free to reach out to me, I’m always happy to help a bride stress as little as possible on her big day ❤️ ) and ask them to monitor the situation, watch the radar, give you their opinion on when the rain will be moving through, and if you have time to say your “I Do’s” outdoors. On the other hand, if it looks like it will be a complete wash-out, it’s time to touch base with your vendors and ask them to go ahead and execute your backup plan. You can also help ease your nerves by having a rainy day survival kit with things like extra large umbrellas for yourself and the bridal party, heel protectors, and anti-frizz sheets. If time and budget allow, and your ceremony and reception are in separate locations, it might be worth it to stock up on extra umbrellas for the guests as well. Try not to stress too much though…some even say rain on your wedding day is good luck because of the freshness, cleansing, and new life it brings!

Don’t forget to consider temperatures as well. If it looks like it will be hot at your outdoor wedding, think about setting up a welcome station with water, sunscreen, and fans. I’ve seen where some brides print their programs right onto the fans – such a cute idea! Others offer sunglasses as well. If it happens to be colder than expected (or if you just planned an outdoor wedding in a cold climate), an added thank you to guests could be providing warm drinks and/or blankets.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

We can’t control the weather…but it doesn’t have to have a huge impact on your day! Fun fact – did y’all know that there was a huge snowstorm on Alicia’s wedding day? Her husband, Tom, is also a meteorologist, and they had actually chosen that day because five years earlier, they were celebrating Tom’s brother’s wedding in the same area with nice, mild weather. The wedding was scheduled for 11:00 AM on December 30, 2000, which meant everyone was driving through heavy snow to get to the reception! 12.6 inches of snow fell that day, making it one of the top 10 biggest December snowstorms for Albany at the time (although it has now fallen out of the top 10). Fortunately, the ceremony and reception went on as planned and everyone had a lovely time….and maybe snow on your wedding day is as lucky as rain, because Alicia and Tom will be celebrating twenty years of marriage this December!

Alicia and Tom on their wedding day.

All this to say, as long as you’re prepared, everything will fall into place – at least weather-wise! While no one could have predicted a global pandemic changing so many plans this year, love will always win – whether you decide to push forward with your original plans, downsize, postpone, have two celebrations, elope…or any other option! I’m a little over one week out from our wedding (part 1 with only immediate family – thanks COVID!), and I truly can’t wait. I hope this will be helpful for any of you who might be planning a wedding (or really any big event) in the future and want to plan around the weather.

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