Weather Proofing Weddings
Weather-proofing your W-day
Whatever the weather, your wedding need not be a damp squib! Let Wed lead the way for a little blue-sky thinking
It's the one element beyond your control. Unpredictable, uninvited and capable of sabotaging your carefully made plans, inclement weather can be a perennial pain in the world of wedding organisation. But what if, with a bit of insider knowledge, you could weatherproof your wedding?
We've called on the wiz kids at the Met Office to help you find the fairest forecast. And just in case you'd rather not take any chances, here's how to tailor your day to make the best of all possible outcomes.
For the sunseekers
If sunshine is an essential, then go west and go coastal. But don't take our word for it - according to the Met Office, there is a simple scientific explanation: in the summer months, the Azores high pressure system takes charge in the Atlantic and, in wedding terms, that's good news because it usually means less cloud cover at sea and a higher chance of uninterrupted rays along the coast. Stats show that getting married on a clifftop need not mean living life on the edge. In fact, in our region's recorded history, the highest total of monthly sunshine was at Pendennis Point, Falmouth, back in June 1925. Castle wedding, anyone?
But every cloud...
Granted, if a dull day dawns it won't destroy proceedings - and, if you're worried about the photos, fear not. Photographer Jon Plane of Heartshaped Photography (heartshapedphotography.com) has seen some of the most stunning shots born out of cloudy days. "Many couples assume that you can't beat sunshine, but that's not true. In fact, sun can play havoc - from squinting guests to harsh shadows - and nobody enjoys being stood under the beating sun in heavy suits and layers of tulle. Instead, cloudy conditions add drama and mood to the scene, as well as provide a changing colour to the landscape."
Saying a dry 'I do'
There are two words that you won't want to hear on your big day: Atlantic depression. One of the perils of being this far south-west is that we're often the first to bear the brunt of the dreaded low pressure system - wretched weather that tends to be more vigorous in the autumn and winter months. This can be a good excuse to plan a spring wedding; on average the region is driest and our friend, the Azores high, is flexing its muscles. Many mistakenly believe that August is the driest month, but by then we're actually transitioning to more unsettled autumnal weather, meaning rainfall is on the increase. And, while west is best for sunseekers, the north-east will be last to feel the force of low pressure as it moves away, meaning less likelihood of driving rain. But be wary too of the part that altitude can play.
Drizzle mizzle... party fizzles?
You needn't let the weather rain on your parade, as long as you plan ahead. Jonathan Rowe of Trevenna (trevenna.co.uk) has dealt with all extremities from his venue on the fringes of Bodmin Moor. "Not having a plan creates unnecessary stress," he says. "If you have a beautiful indoor setting ready in case of rain, then you remove the fear and the element of surprise." So it's simple: get to know your venue inside out, even if you've booked a summer ceremony. And query the following practicalities: can your decorations be easily transported indoors? Will your venue allow confetti inside? Will the indoor space allow for tray-passing the canapes? If moved inside, will guests end up taking their seats early? Have staff been prepped to accommodate changes in the plan? Are there any outdoor areas that could be used for shelter?
"Some venues are limited on space, especially when re-setting from ceremony to wedding breakfast, so check the flow of traffic won't be affected if everybody moves inside," advises Jonathan. Discussion with your planner is essential - just hoping for the best adds a layer of uncertainty you could probably do without. Similarly, be flexible. Don't be too rigid in your ideas of exactly where and when your key events should take place - sometimes a change can be for the better.
"We've seen some of the best confetti moments happen indoors from the foot of our staircase," says Jonathan. Priceless pics could be the pay-off! To this end, have a B-list of photo locations pre-arranged with your photographer - and make sure you have some brollies on hand.
If you covet a convertible car, discuss each company's wet weather policy for when the heavens open. It's also worth checking what provisions they might carry. Jess Ratty of The Cornwall Camper Company (thecornwallcampercompany.co.uk) has weatherproofing down to a fine art: "Flip-flops and flats always find their way into our camper boot, in case of muddy emergencies and to save beautiful heels! We've got some pretty impressive manoeuvring skills too and more often than not, manage to drop the bride right at the front door of most locations."
Nova Wedding Photography
The veil flies off, the cupcake stand collapses, the favours blow away... Wind is arguably the most destructive guest at a wedding, so if you can avoid it, do. Easier said than done since we're one of the most exposed areas of the UK, with our average wind speeds second only to western Scotland! To ensure that your guests are blown away by the wedding and not the wind, seek out a spot that is sheltered by hills, woodland or urban areas. If your wedding set-up is particularly vulnerable to being windswept, consider heading north-east, where any strong south-westerly gusts reach their tail end.
Bear in mind that winter is when we experience the highest wind speeds and gusts, whilst June to August bring lighter breezes. And even if a summer wedding isn't your thing, remember that a foreboding forecast can be totally overblown: by definition, only ten consecutive minutes of 34 knot wind speed makes a 'gale'.
Windproof your wedding
If you do find yourself battening down the hatches, a sense of humour is your main weapon. Jonathan explains, "If the wedding party can stay relaxed, then you stand a good chance of getting the best from the day, even if Aunty Jean's skirt blows up in a gust during the group shot!"
Practical tips for windproofing come from Jonathan's years of experience: "If you're lighting pathways, it's worth spending a little more on enclosed lanterns to keep the lights burning. Also, if your venue requires signposting, balloons will not survive blustery conditions. And this is where weighty favours can save a table setting. Sometimes it's the little details that cause the biggest upsets."
If you've booked a vehicle, it can be a valuable port in the storm between photographs and prove helpful for emergency touch-ups. "Our camper provides a lovely shelter," says Jess. "We always tell our brides and bridesmaids to bring tissues and make-up just in case of any windswept smudging."
Nova Wedding Photography
Don't get cold feet
Shivering your way through the service isn't a good look, nor is it comfortable. The mildest place to be is down at sea level on the south-west peninsula, which has the warmest sea temperatures in the country. If the forecast sings of warm air rising from the continent during July and August, guests to a wedding on the south coast are in for a treat. But if there are murmurs of strong easterly winds, then you've been warned.
Not cold... cool!
If temperatures do plunge, task your bridesmaids with providing warming touches. Heated hand pads, a cosy shrug and even an emergency hip flask can take the chill out of the day. And consider your guests, especially elderly relatives. Some venues provide blankets, but you could also consider stocking up on some colour-coordinated throws of your own. Find out whether the venue has an open fire that could serve as a warming focal point. Similarly, instead of fizz, could guests benefit from a warm local cider? Finally, if you've opted for a marquee, ensure it will be heated.
This kind of unexpected chill is where your photographers will really earn their money. "In cold weather, it's handy to have a team of two," says Jon. "While one of us concentrates on the camerawork, the other acts as an MC with the help of ushers. Speed is key if you're going to get the shots before the smiles fade into goosebumps!"
And if all else fails...
Relax! Most experienced professionals have dealt with weather related dramas several times a year, so they'll be well equipped to offer practical advice. But what they won't be able to do is control your mood and you don't want to look back on your day lamenting the lack of a smile on your face. To this end, resist fixating on the forecast. Although long-range overviews exist, our weather changes quickly. The Met Office makes their most accurate predictions just five days in advance. Keep a sense of perspective and remember: weather can create the most memorable moments! You might not like it, but one thing will be guaranteed: if the weather really lets its presence be known, it will be a fond talking point for years to come. Just make sure that Auntie Jean is prepared!
For weather forecasts, notifications and alerts, visit metoffice.gov.uk
words Sharon O'Connell
Copyright Wed magazine 2015
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