Most wedding-related vendors need to be booked 6-12 months in advance. It's impossible to know exactly what kind of weather your wedding day will bring. With so many people involved, you can't just cancel or postpone due to rain. But with some planning, you can prevent bad weather from ruining your big day.
Here in Central New York, summertime high temperatures average in the upper 70s, while nighttime lows average in the 50s. Record temperatures during the summer months range from the 30s to the 100s. We've had snow in Syracuse as late as May, and as early as October. Most outdoor weddings will experience "average" weather, but you should be prepared for extremes... just in case.
Between what I've seen myself and comparing notes with other DJs, here are some tips to prevent Mother Nature from crashing your outdoor wedding plans.
- Rent a big party tent. It will protect you, your guests, your vendors and everyone's "stuff" from the elements. Most people only think of a tent as a protection against rain or hail... but it can also prevent sunburn and heat exhaustion on a sunny day.
- Make sure the tent has walls. If it's a nice day, tent walls can usually be stored out of sight. You may never need them, but they'll be lifesavers if it turns out to be a windy or rainy day.
- Stay High and Dry. Don't hold outdoor receptions at the bottom of a hill or other flood-prone areas. If possible, visit your location right after a heavy rainstorm (or as the last of the snow thaws) to see how long the ground stays wet. If the ground doesn't dry up within a day, reconsider the location.
- Rent a Dance Floor. It's acceptable to have your dinner tables right on the ground, but when it comes to dancing, you definitely want a flat, sturdy surface for your guests. Most tent rental companies also rent dance floors. Depending on your guest count, anything from 10x10 feet to 15x15 should work.
- Be Mindful of Temperature Extremes. For daytime receptions, pedestal fans can provide comfort on a hot, humid day. Also make sure plenty of water will be available. For evening receptions, consider renting portable heaters and arrange with your caterer to have warm beverages (coffee, tea, hot cocoa, apple cider) on stand-by. You may never need them if the weather cooperates -- but it's better to be prepared, just in case.
- Make Sure Your Guests Know! Your invitations should clearly indicate that the reception will be outdoors. Guests who are sensitive to temperature extremes will appreciate having "notice" to dress accordingly.
- Make Sure Your Vendors Know! All your vendors -- your DJ, caterers, photographer, cake decorator -- should be notified that the reception will be outside. Some vendors may need to take extra precautions or use different equipment for outdoor events.
- Insect Control. If your reception will extend into the evening hours, the heat and lights in the tent could become a magnet for mosquitoes, moths and other annoying insects. Your tent vendor may have some suggestions.
- Somewhere to "go." Portable facilities are an absolute must if your reception is not within walking-distance to indoor facilities. But even if your reception's at someone's house, do they really want guests constantly parading in and out of the house to use the restroom? If you think regular porta-potties would look tacky, a restroom trailer (like these) serves the same purpose, with a more upscale appearance.
The "Savvy Scoop" blog also has some great advice for outdoor weddings -- be sure to check out their thoughts too.
Peter Naughton can DJ your wedding reception whether you're inside or outside! Visit my weddings page for more information or contact me now for a price quote, availability, and to answer any questions you have.