15 Ways to Disaster-Proof Weddings at Outdoor Venues

Ever wondered what to do if it rains on your outdoor party? Outdoor venues for weddings and events can be absolutely gorgeous. But after you book it, you might be thinking, “What do I do if it rains on this wedding day?”

Whether you’re planning ahead or you’re just now seeing the forecast, these tips and tricks will make sure all guests have a wonderful time, no matter what.

Creative Backup Plans for Outdoor Venues

1. Get event insurance

Believe it or not, special event insurance exists for bad weather and rain. It can help protect against financial loss, covering everything from drizzle on and off during the reception to a full-on hail storm throughout the day.

In order to collect, however, you’ll need to make a note of the venue’s nearest weather station. Then, double-check that the insurance company would consider their data within an acceptable range. If not, you might need to hire an independent weather observer or pay a flat, one-time fee to the nearest weather command.

In addition to bad weather insurance, you should also look into wedding insurance. Poor weather might make traveling or moving around the venue dangerous for guests. Or, in some very rare cases, it might be cause enough to postpone the event. But with wedding insurance, both of these (and many more) scenarios are completely covered thanks to liability and cancellation policies.

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2. Have a second location ready to go just in case.

This can be easier said than done, but you do have options no matter what your budget looks like. For example, you can:

  • Check with the venue. If your ceremony or reception is held at an indoor or covered space, see if you have the option to host both parts there.
  • Borrow someone’s home. If the wedding guests are mostly local, you might have someone willing to loan you their space as a backup. Just make sure you have event staff or volunteers assigned to clean, decorate, and set it all up so that you’re generous hosts don’t have to panic over last-minute changes.
  • Ask a boss. Maybe the happy couple works at an upscale office space, an eclectic garage, or even a barn. These spaces can easily be transformed into unique venues. Plus, they have the added touch of being special to the bride and groom, since they spend so much time there and probably invited some coworkers to the wedding anyway.  

Creative, out of the box thinking will help you pull together another venue option if worse comes to worst.

3. Have the hair stylist and makeup artist create rain proof versions of looks.

Experienced artists know that bad weather happens. Luckily there are lots of ways to make sure mascara stays put, cry-proof the look, and generally avoid common disasters with wedding day makeup.

There are so many ways to weatherproof a wedding hairstyle! As with most things event and style related, you’ll want to make sure you test drive every new concept, even if it’s just the day before.

4. Tell guests what the plan is.

Communication with your guests is very important, especially if you’re changing venues at the last minute. Even if you don’t plan to check in attendees at your event, you’ll definitely want to use free event planning software to create your guest list and collect contact information into one organized platform.

In addition to mass texting, calling, and/or emailing everyone, you should add weather updates to your event website and (if you have enough advanced notice) put one to two sentence weather-related reminders on the wedding invitations, themselves.

outdoor wedding venue plans

5. Hand out color-coordinated blankets, umbrellas, or shawls as guest gifts.

Personalized wedding favors that are monogrammed or have engagement photos printed on them add an extra special touch to these everyday items. You can even add some affordable photo stickers to the strings and wrapping attached to these items.

Practical and creative wedding favor ideas like these are sure to be a hit, even if your guests have to tough out a little rain or wind in the process.

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6. Adjust your event diagram.

Switching venues, adding tents, or moving the party inside will require you to rethink your event diagram and seating chart. Having an electronic version of your plans laid out in your event software makes it easy to tweak your layouts and update your wedding vendors in real time.

You can even create and save multiple versions ahead of time, so you’ll have your plans A, B, and C ready to go no matter what.

Another reason why digital tools like these are handy? You can get vendors and key stakeholders (like mothers-in-law and day-of coordinators) to weigh in on the plausibility of each plan, so there are no real surprises at the event no matter what happens.

7. Plan to serve hot chocolate, tea, and spiked cider.

These welcome additions to cold-weather wedding menus can provide a classy and fun upgrade to any outdoor venues. For example, Martha Stewart has some elegant suggestions for how to serve hot chocolate at your wedding. You can even enlist the bartenders to create some delicious signature hot cocktails.

8. Consider getting the bridesmaids matching rain boots.

Here are some expert advocates and outdoor venue event inspo for the dress and boot combo look:

  • This preppy Irish wedding featured on The Knot shows how cute a pair of Hunter boots can look with J. Crew dresses and cardigans.
  • Etsy is simply bursting with wedding rain boots for sale, offering plenty of colorful monogrammed and bow-tied looks to fit any event theme.
  • And who could pass up the opportunity to sport one of the many wedding-worthy rain boots featured on Brides.com?

Plus, imagine how fun and unique your photos will be! Speaking of…

9. Add rainy day shots to the photography wishlist.

Professional photographers should already know how to make rainy day wedding photos pop. But it doesn’t hurt to have some shots of your own in mind ahead of time! Clear plastic umbrellas and color coordinated storm jackets make for nice photo accessories.

These tips for shooting weddings in the rain also advise you to sneak away for photo ops whenever the rain slows down and to rank the photos by order of importance, marking which ones are the absolute must-haves just in case your time is really limited.

10. Talk to the venue coordinator.

Even if the wedding planning is mostly DIY, you are not alone. Your outdoor wedding venue coordinator has probably seen his or her fair share of parades get rained on at their location.

As a result, they’ll be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to alternative options and creative ways to keep guests dry at their unique space. They might even offer complimentary tents, umbrellas, or heaters. You don’t know until you ask!

11. Check in with your vendors about their bad weather policies.

Live performers and even some caterers will limit or (heaven forbid) cancel if the weather is too rough for them to properly do their jobs. Bad weather policies and back up plans are considered one of the top five must ask wedding vendor questions. The other ones include:

  • Are you wedding certified? This information may have been displayed on their website when you first searched them, but it’s always good to ask in-person. If they are, you can rest assured that they are being held to the highest ethical and professional standards by the National Wedding Council.
  • What makes you better than all the rest? You’ll want to take advantage of their unique selling points and specializations, they could add a refreshing twist to your plans that you hadn’t thought of before.
  • Who will physically be present at the wedding? The person you coordinate with might not be the person you see at the wedding. Know who you’ll be working with ahead of time for peace of mind. And agree on who will be your point of contact if something goes wrong.

Vendors usually have their answers prepared for questions like these and will often be willing to help you strategize any worst case scenarios.

12. Weather proof your wedding dress.

Need to protect your wedding dress from your outdoor venue? You and your gown will still look just as breathtaking in the rain as you do in the sunshine, as long as you remember to buy a petticoat, use a sheet to shield it from grass during photo sessions, and add a bustle to it.

You can also try spraying the hem with fabric protector spray (which you can either apply yourself or pay for a professional dry cleaner to do it).

13. Work with your valet to help guests get from their cars to the venue.

When discussing how to deal with wedding day rain effectively, you’ll have to consider details like guest transportation. If the venue allows it, try asking the valet to stand as close to the entrance (or at the very least, an awning) as possible. Some venues might not allow you to, in which case your valet team will have to get creative.

If all else fails, extra tents, umbrellas, and ponchos can make the car to building transition a little easier. And if you have handicapped or disabled guests, make sure there are comfortable and convenient options to keep them dry, as well.

14. Leave some wiggle room in your day-of timeline.

A truly efficient wedding planning checklist will include a review of the day-of timeline in lieu of serious forecast changes. Because it will take guests longer to drive, park, and get to the venue, you’ll want to leave extra time for every portion of the event.

15. Assign someone to check for road closures and alert guests.

The National Weather Service offers maps with real-time data on road safety and conditions. If guests have to be rerouted, make sure you add signage to the area if it’s two miles or less from the venue. You can also offer to shuttle guests from parking lots to the venue by hiring extra valet or enlisting some helpful friends and family to take turns.

Guide: The Most Efficient Wedding Planning Checklist

Bonus Tips for Outdoor Venues

Here are even more ways to make sure a wedding goes well, no matter what kind of weather you encounter:

  • Order extra heaters and backup tents from your event rental company.
  • Stash some extra hair dryers and disposable combs in the bathrooms so guests refresh their hair if it gets wet.
  • If you’re serving food outdoors, get with your caterers and make a plan for how you’ll handle food storage and transportation if you end up changing venues.  
  • Hire or designate a portion of your event staff to transitioning your space if you need to set up tents or move tables. Note: this might also mean hiring more helpers or recruiting additional volunteers.

There’s nothing you can do to control the weather, so just control the controllable! Follow these steps and use the right event tools, and you’ll still have an incredible day.

And if you need any season-specific event inspiration, read up on spring themes for parties and creative fall wedding reception ideas.

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