I remember being in the checkout line at Whole Foods a June or three ago and hearing the customer ahead of me talking to the cashier about her upcoming wedding. My ears perked up. I asked, as I do, “Where are you getting married?”
“Federal Hill,” she responded.
Now as you may know, Federal Hill is both a neighborhood and a park in Baltimore, all on the National Register of Historic Places. She was talking about the park, which is set on a steep hill overlooking the Inner Harbor. On another June day, in 1608, explorer John Smith called it, “a great red bank of clay.”
A tower was built there in the late 1700s in order to watch for ships from Europe and Asia. During the War of 1812 it was a defensive stronghold, complete with cannons. It is, then and now, exposed to the weather.
So I asked her, “What’s your rain plan?”
“Oh,” she said, “I don’t like to think about rain!”
Well! There was nothing more to say. I wished her well and hauled my groceries to the car.
I can’t tell you how things went with her wedding, but I can tell you what misery she and her guests would have experienced if they were caught in heavy rain on Federal Hill. Don’t be her!
Make a rain plan if you’re having your wedding ceremony outside, especially if your reception is outside, too.
We do a lot of outdoor wedding ceremonies at my venue, Chase Court. We have a great woodsy ceremony garden as well as a castle-like building with a great hall, where dinner and dancing takes place. In case of rain, the caterer moves the dinner tables to one end of the great hall and chairs are set up auditorium style, either in front of one of the big leaded-glass windows or in front of the fireplace.
By the way, I can think of no worse rain plan than to have all of your guests seated at their dinner tables. Yuck!
All of this is worked out a month ahead of time at a meeting called a walk-through, where the caterer, the venue, and the client go over every little detail of the event and establish a timeline. Walk-throughs are essential for a successful, stress-free wedding. Lots of questions get asked, answers given, and potential troubles avoided!
Here are some questions you’ll want answered before you book your venue:
First, simply, “What is your rain plan?”
Any sign of hesitation in answering that question is your cue to run out the door!
Let’s think positively and presume that your venue has a great rain plan. Back to the questions:
How many sets of chairs do they have? If it’s just one, and chairs need to be moved from outside to inside, you want to know who will do that, and how long it will take.
Ask who will make the decision to implement the rain plan, and when that would happen. For example, if there is any question of rain on a wedding day at Chase Court, the caterer and I will talk as soon as they arrive, three hours ahead of the start of the wedding. I’ll look at the radar, if I haven’t already. (Pro Tip: Wunderground.com has great radar, and Dark Sky is a fantastic, geographically and time-specific weather app.)
If we think rain is coming, our next step is to talk with one or both members of the couple unless we already know their thoughts on using the rain plan – which we usually do.
If your ceremony and reception will both be outdoors, then pop back to my column in the last issue on the Perfect Backyard Tented Reception!
Nobody wants it to rain on their wedding. Having a solid rain plan in place will take a load off of your mind and make the best of a rainy wedding day!
Next time: Music for your wedding.
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.