If You Don't Like the Weather, Wait Five Minutes

  • By chelseajaie
  • 24 Jan, 2014

A Guide to Outdoor Wedding Survival in Michigan

By: Chelsea Mills, Owner - Behind Your Design

As a little girl, you always dreamed of an outdoor wedding. You dreamed you would be walking down the tree-lined steps at your family home on Lake Fenton, or through a fall orchard with the red and gold leaves or even a spring wedding in a park with scented with roses and cherry blossoms.  You envision the sun shining down on you during your wedding ceremony. The birds are chirping. A light breeze flows through the air. The guests are smiling at you. It is the PERFECT day.

Many brides and grooms get that perfect day. I wish every single one could. The reality is though, we live in Michigan. They don’t say, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” for nothing. You could have a quick change of weather at any time. I’ve seen the most beautiful day turn into the perfect storm in a matter of minutes.

I have a few rules for outdoor brides and grooms. If you’re going to get married outside in the spring, summer or fall in Michigan, you have to:

1.     Deal with whatever happens and be happy with it

2.     Be prepared, have a plan B

3.     Make sure your guests are comfortable

4.     Roll with the punches (also see #1 deal with it!)

I’m not trying to scare anyone, but being prepared is the best way to have an ideal day not only for you, but also for your guests on your wedding day.

Rain, Rain Go Away

Plan A might involve all of your guests in the back yard or in a park under the trees, but a Plan B is a safe idea. Check with local rental companies to see how late you can add a tent. The 10-day forecast is a safe bet as it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Sometimes it’s best to have a back up location. Does the church you’re getting married in have hall? Does the hotel your guests are staying in have an extra room? You typically can’t hold these without plans of using them, but if they are going unused, as your event gets closer, they may be an option.

So, worst case scenario… It’s raining or it’s going to rain and it’s not just a sprinkle- it’s raining cats and dogs. Do your guests have to walk on wet grass? A trip to the store for a bunch of umbrellas for your guests to use to walk to their cars or the bathrooms can be helpful. Will it start getting muddy? As pretty as grass is- it can get really nasty fast. Think about getting some hay or mulch to put down in high traffic areas. Can you order sidewalls for your tent? Sometimes it does rain so hard that a tent can only do so much and if it is blowing, sidewalls can help a little.  Have large heaters on hand to turn on in the tent just in case the temperature drops. Not only is it only planning ahead, but also it shows your guests that you care about their comfort.

Trust your gut. If you have a feeling the weather might turn bad, secure a plan B. Because if you do, the saying is, you won’t need it. But if you don’t, you probably will.


You can never depend on the weather. A corporate event I did one October was predicting warm weather ten days prior and then a few days before changed to cold weather.  I ended up adding sidewalls to the tent, gas heaters inside and outside, valet parking and purchased many fleece blankets, which I had embroidered with the client’s logo to match the color scheme of the event. I placed the blankets on the lounge furniture and passed them out as gifts so the guests could stay warm.  The little extra cost is worth peace of mind and the guests thought the blankets were an amazing take a way from the event.

Oh, You Didn’t Plan for Your Wedding Party to Have 80’s Metal Band Hair?

As you know, it can get windy outdoors in Michigan very quickly. On a lake or in a backyard, wind can wreak havoc on an event. For your hair, use a little extra hairspray. For groomsmen, even if they’re not the product type, have them use a little. It’s better than having your hair sticking up in pictures. Buy some travel bottles of hairspray and hair gel to put in the bathrooms so your guests can use them as well.

Are your place cards secured? Get a plan B for your place cards if they were little cards on a table. Affix them to something! I’ve used figs with pins to secure the place cards as a paperweight. I have also used acrylic frames from the photo booth company to display the names in. This also makes a great keepsake for the guests to frame their photo booth memories in. Make sure your tablecloths are weighted so they’re not blowing up onto to lit candles or centerpieces. Are your napkins going to blow away? Make sure they’re secure as well by using heaving napkin rings or placing the bread and butter plate on top of them. Wind can also make it really hard to hear. Have a microphone for nuptials and speeches even if you think it might be overkill.

Create a Memory

Creating at atmosphere in which guests can enjoy themselves is not always an easy task. If your event is in a park, string lights around the trees so there is soft light when the sun sets. If your event is at a farm, have hand painted directional signs showing them the way to the ceremony, reception, restrooms and photo booth. When the guests arrive have a beverage handed to them by an attendant who is available to direct them or answer questions they may have. Don’t have a lot of idle time; you don’t want your guests to remember being bored.

Waiter, There is a Fly in My Soup

Insects can be uninvited guests. Make sure you have citronella candles and a bug zapper. Spray for mosquitoes in advance and also have bug spray on hand.

Hot, Hot, Hot!

August can make for days of unbearable heat! Make sure your guests have shade and plenty of bottled water. Make a pitcher of lemonade and ice tea and have that around too.  Plan on your programs being doubled as fans during the ceremony.  Add a tent and large commercial fans if you don’t already have one.  Butter cream frosting can melt! Make sure to tell your baker that you’re going to be outside so they can use fondant on the cake instead. Make sure your guests are facing away from the sun for your ceremony. Or purchase sunglasses for everyone to wear during the ceremony, this can also make a great photograph afterwards! You don’t want them all squinting at you!  

You’ll Laugh About This Someday

So, what if the weather isn’t the best? What if it’s not as you dreamed? At the end of the night, you’re still going home with the love of your life. That is what should be most important. Make this your mantra. Say it over and over again when you feel like things aren’t going quite as you planned.

Make the most out of it. Take fun pictures in the snow. Act like you’re blowing away in the wind. If you’re really adventurous - dance in the rain or jump in the lake. Why not, your going to get wet anyway?

Make sure your guests are comfortable. Then, have a glass of wine! You can’t control the weather, but you can be prepared.

Around The Town with Chelsea

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