Sunday, May 07, 2006

WEATHER WORRIES: FORECASTING AND AVOIDING DISASTER (PART I)

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I love Longfellow's poetry, though I have a feeling that a bride-to-be might disagree with his "live and let live" assessment to the rain--if it happened on her wedding day! More on that later, though....

Even though I'm on my own little island here on the internet (where it's always sunny and never rains!), I'm aware of the issues that arise for brides when it comes to weather. It's interesting to me that most people think they're immune from weather-issues if they have their reception indoors.

Believe it or not, there will ALWAYS be interesting issues that arise--whether it's winter, spring, summer or fall--regardless of the location of the event. Why? There are factors involved--including guests' comfort level and travel issues, for example, that may play a larger role than people initially believe....


I thought I'd start off with what I'd like to call WEATHER ETIQUETTE for my first post on this subject, since brides-to-be may be tackling this particular issue.

I received a question from a reader about how to make guests feel comfortable in warm weather--and how best to get the word out about dress code:

"We're planning on an outdoor wedding in August, so it'll probably be pretty toasty (the reception is indoors). I don't really want people to be sweating in really nice clothes, though. Is there a way to tell people that jackets and ties are not required? I don't want to hope word of mouth is enough. We were thinking of mentioning it on our website, but do you think that will be enough? I...don't want them getting over heated."

This question highlights the importance of thinking about all aspects of the weather--whether the wedding is indoors or outdoors.

The answer definitely depends on the SIZE OF THE WEDDING and the NUMBER OF GUESTS INVITED. If it's a larger wedding, I think that using a wedding website is a perfectly acceptable way of getting the word out -- this is probably the most understated yet effective way of getting the message across (next to word-of-mouth). Calling people directly seems a bit forced, so the best way to communicate your guests' comfort levels is to do it in a way that is unintrusive and in a public domain. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of wedding websites that detail the play-by-play commentary of the bride/groom's engagement night, but the websites which provide useful information are certainly helpful.

The bottom line regarding this issue is that it's good to get the message across, whether by word of mouth, or on a website, no matter HOW you handle it -- even if only 50% of your guests get the message, it's signficant that you TRIED to accommodate them.

People forget that indoor weddings--when it's 100 degrees out--do not shield guests from discomfort (since guests are traveling to get to the actual reception hall, for example, and part of the wedding may be outdoors--whether the ceremony, cocktail hour, or both). Therefore, make sure that you talk to those managing/planning the reception--in advance--about temperature control and air-conditioning. It's important to make sure of these details before having 200 people in a room and realizing that the air-conditioning doesn't work well. It happens. Making sure guests are comfortable is of PRIME importance when it comes to the weather.

Take, for example, a wedding that I went to in November. While it was a particularly balmy day that month, the wedding cocktail reception was HELD OUTDOORS. It was FREEZING! I spent the entire hour shivering in TallGuy's jacket, and there really wasn't anywhere else to go (since the room inside was being converted from ceremony to reception site). The grounds were frozen, and guests were not exactly thrilled with the locale. While the bride and groom (and wedding planner) probably thought "Wow, it's so gorgeous out! We can definitely have the cocktail hour outside!", people were not thinking ahead and realizing that a November night is no time to have a cocktail hour outside--no matter how warm it got during the day.

WEATHER ETIQUETTE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND, as you plan your wedding. If there is a potential indoor/outdoor combo, think about the issues I raised, as well as that of the reader who wanted to keep her guests cool and comfortable.

These issues are never easy, but it's important to think about them and tackle them in advance--so that you aren't leaving your guests out in the cold (or sweltering!)

Stay tuned!

2 comments:

Megan said...

While I think it is important to give guests a heads up, I think most would be able to figure out outdoor wedding+August+Virginia = hot, and dress accordingly. If it is somewhere that most guests have never been before, such as having your wedding in Bermuda when it just so happens to be rainy season, then okay it would probably be important to mention. But at some point you have to assume your guests have a little bit of grey matter. I mean, one cousin had her wedding in January in Minnesota and nobody was wearing shorts and sandals. While the ceremony and reception were indoors, there was obviously the to and fro, and people dressed accordingly without having to be reminded that it is cold in Minnesota for 90% of the year.

Anonymous said...

LOL, I can definately relate to the wedding weather woes! About 4 years ago I was a bridesmaid in my fiancee's brothers wedding. The wedding was in late May in Rhode Island. They are very causual people and basically planned an out door barbque/picnic reception. Mother Nature had other plans that day, she had planned to have one of the coldest days of the year in late May! It was horrible. The temperature was in the low 40's with rain, no one was prepared for the freakish weather and everyone was MISERABLE. We sat at picnic tables huddled under plastic tents for atleast 7 hours, because there was no back up plan for freezing rainy weather, 80% of the guest were from out of state including myself and had no coats. In turn, I ended up being violently ill after the reception I was vomitting for a few hours due to the combination of poorly cooked food and freezing weather. It is fun to joke about now that years have past. It makes a great story now that I'm getting married (in 24 days!) and I left nothing to the elements. I'm having everything indoors due to that wedding experience ( because Murphy's Law applies to all what can go wrong will go wrong) Or with this wedding reception case no one had expected that the groom would every get married, so Hell just FROZE over for the occasion. For the weather the week before the wedding was in the mid 70's and the weather the day after the wedding was sunny in the high 60's. So that "Hell froze over" for this wedding is the popular consensus among the family members. :)