How to Develop a Rain Plan
by Jennifer Mathis December 15
It’s always good to have a rain plan, but if you plan to get married outside in Houston, it’s essential. From unseasonal flooding to ever increasing Hurricane activity, you don’t want to be caught unawares for your wedding day. Skylar Caitlin with Chancey Charm Weddings is sharing her tips on creating a rain plan for your outdoor Houston wedding – read on!
(guest post by Skylar Caitlin of Chancey Charm Weddings)
Photo // Katy Cox Photography
What are your options?
The first question you want to ask yourself when creating a rain plan is what are your actual options at your venue?
This is why it is crucial to think about your rain plan during your venue tour before you even book. Ask the venue what they’ve seen in the past and how they think it worked. If you don’t think you could love Plan B, don’t sign on the dotted line.
You’ll likely have options limited to tenting the outdoor space or a room flip, unless your venue has multiple indoor spaces that can accommodate your guest count.
If you want to stay outside, but covered, a tent is going to be your best fit. If you cannot have a tent or would prefer to move inside, a room flip – where the room is transformed from ceremony space to reception space while guests are at cocktail hour – will be the way to go.
One often forgotten segment of a rain plan is guest and vendor movements. Will they have a covered walkway from the valet station? To and from the bathrooms? To and from the catering kitchen? If you cannot cover open walkways with tenting, will you supply umbrellas or hope that everyone brings their own? These are important aspects of guest experience to consider when weighing your options.
What would a room flip look like?
If your Plan B is to utilize the reception space and then have the room “flipped,” you’ll need to coordinate with your wedding day team to design a smooth process for all.
First, you’ll need to ensure that your venue either has space (either already existing or could be created) to stage your reception tables. Also, confirm that you have a large enough area where your guests can congregate for cocktail hour while the room is made ready for your reception.
If you will need to create a space for the staged tables, discuss the options with your designer and/or rental team. Some couples opt for a draping “wall” or mobile walls to visually hide the staged area and to give the space a separate vibe for each portion of your day. Others may decide to leave the staged tables unhidden to lend to the overall decor of the space.
You’ll also need to coordinate who will be responsible for facilitating the room flip. The venue staff? Catering? Decor team? This might require hiring additional staff who can help move tables into place as the majority of the regular staff will be preoccupied taking care of your guests at cocktail hour.
Be sure to ask the responsible party how much time they need to execute the flip. This will impact your timeline and dictate the minimum length of your cocktail hour.
What would a tent look like?
Tents come in a variety of shapes and sizes that will depend on your guest counts and your needs. Some of the most common decisions you’ll need to make are:
Do you want a white or clear top? This refers to whether the actual material that covers the frame will be white and opaque or colorless and see through. A lot of my couples love clear tops because it allows them to capture the outdoor wedding feel without subjecting their guests to the elements. I will caution however, that clear tops in the summer often have a greenhouse effect and can get uncomfortably warm if air conditioning is not provided.
Do you want sides? Tents can be set-up with or without sides that will keep out sideways rain or protect your decor from arrant wind gusts. Sides can be clear, white or a mixture of the two based on what your style is. Ultimately, if you want the security of sides without the full commitment, you can have the tent installed with the sides rolled up. That way they can be rolled down by your team should the weather require, but otherwise your guests still get that al fresco feeling.
Do you need flooring? Tent flooring can help avoid sodden ground from rain before the tent is erected. But it can come with a hefty price tag and may require a longer lead-time for set-up. Another alternative is to see if your venue will allow the rental company to install the tent earlier in the week, protecting the ground from becoming too soft.
Okay, I have a plan… when do I make the call?
When to put Plan B into place will depend on the plan itself. Ask your vendor team when they’d need a decision made. Some tenting companies will allow cancellation up to 72 hours before the day without financial penalty and without having the pay in full for the tent. For a room flip, sometimes both inside and outdoor options can be set-up for a day-of call made based on the radar.
Ultimately, I recommend having a planner or coordinator who can help not only ideate, but enact your rain plan should it become necessary. They will answer vendor questions, handle all the details and oversee the execution all while you relax, mimosa in hand.