Outdoor Wedding Needs Plan B

No one wants to think their outdoor wedding needs Plan B. In fact, I am asked to pray more for the weather than for the couple! You understandably have high hopes and have often payed a high price in order to have your wedding outside. But Mother Nature has a lot to manage, and sometimes it may seem she forgot your wedding was important. So having a Plan B can save a lot of grief and also give you a more complete peace of mind as your wedding day approaches. I’ve been part of of weddings where a Plan B would have come in very handy.

For instance, several years ago I officiated a Traverse City wedding that was held at a beautiful vineyard out Old Mission Peninsula. Grey skies hovered over us the day of the rehearsal, and predictions for bad weather on the wedding day began to come. “Oh, don’t worry,” the bride’s mother, maid of honor, vineyard manager, and oh, the waitress each said, referring to the ominous weather. “It will all turn out.”

Pray for good weather

One of the bridesmaids turned to me and asked, “Could you pray for good weather?”

outdoor wedding

Image by Michal Marcol courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I must have muttered something profound like, “Hmmm.” After considering the weight of her request I added,  “I don’t think I have those kinds of connections, but I’ll be glad to try.” Oh ye of little faith, I scolded myself.

“The weather man doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” someone said. True enough, I thought. I smiled sheepishly at the wedding coordinator. I knew I was supposed to be the positive one, but I was not feeling very hopeful I could hold up my end of the bargain.

Having been discouraged from planning for the worst, the wedding coordinator the couple had hired to take care of the details realized she’d better find a tent for the ceremony. No matter what anyone said, it also looked to her like this outdoor wedding needs Plan B.

The Rehearsal

In good spirits, we practiced the ceremony and, of course, the kiss was rehearsed. We stood on a hill that looked out over the grapevines with West Bay in the distance. Big beautiful billowy clouds floated above the hills that stood between us and Lake Michigan. The vineyard was truly a lovely site for a wedding. “I’ll be here tomorrow at 3:30,” I promised, and I grabbed a few chunks of cheese set out for the rehearsal dinner guests before I drove on to another meeting.

 Last Minute

Lake effect factors are a constant change agent which you have to consider if you are having a wedding in northern Michigan. This wedding was a perfect example of how things can go from bad to worse. The day of the wedding the wind was fierce. The sky drizzled rain off and on for hours. The couple finally made the call to hold the ceremony in the tent. A frazzled coordinator had it hastily set up. Because Plan B had not been “planned for”, the tent that was located at the last minute fit 50 people. That would have been okay if it hadn’t been for the 70 people who showed up for the ceremony.

Although a drop in temperature came with the wind, the couple wanted the front of the tent left open. They understandably wanted their guests to enjoy the exquisite view. An arbor flanked by two large urns of gorgeous pink peonies and hydrangea wobbled as the wind blew the chill into the tent. White folding chairs were crammed as neatly as possible into the space. On a positive note, because the chairs were so close together, people had no other choice but to huddle to keep warm.

The aisle that was supposed to be 100 feet long was about 15 feet, and the long train of her gown had nowhere to trail behind her. She was not happy.”

I should have known how upset the bride was because after we’d gotten the signal to begin the ceremony, the groom, his party and I waited for her to appear for at least ten minutes. Ten minutes in front of a lot of people with nothing to do seemed like an hour. The bridesmaids came in through the open front of the tent. But not the bride. When she finally made her entrance, she had to muscle herself and her beautiful gown through a canvas flap that served as a makeshift doorway. Then she had to squeeze in behind the last row of chairs that were basically flush with the tent’s back wall. The aisle that was supposed to be 100 feet long was about 15 feet, and the long train of her gown had nowhere to trail behind her. She was not happy.

Missing the Moment

The bride was visibly shaken by nature’s untimely supremacy over human desire. Then there was the cramped tent, and the failure of positive thinking and my prayers to come through when they were needed most. Her entrance was not what she’d dreamed about. Despite her groom’s efforts and my own to be present to the moment as it was and not as it should’ve been, the bride could not or would not let herself be brought into the magic of the moment. A sadness shadowed the ceremony, like we’d opened up a big present at Christmas and it was not the train set we’d wanted. Instead it was a set of encyclopedias.

In the end, the bride adjusted, and I’m sure their reception was wonderful, and today they have fond and hopefully laughable memories of their wedding day.

Remember what’s most important — your love for each other

This is my tip: If you are going to have an outdoor wedding, have a Plan B. You may have nurtured your hopes for a spectacular ceremony for many years but what is most important is you finally found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. It has rained before and it will rain again. And again. Things do go awry but real love does not. The weather may or may not cooperate. Wires get crossed, tires go flat; planes get grounded. Plan B is not being pessimistic. Plan B allows you to stay in the moment where love is treasured no matter what goes on around you.

Remember your wedding is about comprehending in a deeper and more profound way the love that you honor and commit to. You are a wonderful couple for wanting people to enjoy themselves, and be thrilled with all the details you’ve worked so hard to put together for them. They will love you for caring no matter what details flutter in the winds of unpredictability. But don’t forget that one detail that will keep you on track if the unexpected shows up:  Plan B.

An Outdoor Wedding Needs Plan B

No matter what the weather is, regardless of whose plane was grounded in Lubbock, or what wires might get crossed at the last minute, look in each other’s eyes. Feel each other’s heartbeat through the energy that flows between you. Hold each other’s hands. Your love does not depend on the weather. Love depends solely on you and what you focus on, now and always.

I hope you won’t need to use Plan B. But if you need to grab a few different details out of the bag, they will be there for you. Plan B gives you’re the freedom to know that no matter what, you will be present and available for a day you will remember for the rest of your lives.

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