Florida is known as the “Sunshine State,” averaging about 240 sunny days a year, however, that nickname doesn't always hold true. The weather here is unpredictable and can range from a beautiful sunny day to a monsoon all in a span of minutes.
With the east coast in the midst of hurricane season (June 1-November 30), having a weather backup plan for your outdoor Tampa Bay wedding is just as important as finding the perfect wedding dress. We've asked our Tampa Bay wedding experts to share their top tips for creating a rain backup plan.
Expect the Unexpected
Couples should start the dialogue of “what ifs” when they are touring venues. Ask to see the backup space and pictures of it set up. Important questions to ask a venue, would be: Are guests arriving in the rain, then running to a sheltered area? Is there a cost for the backup space? What is the decoration in the backup space? Who makes the rain call and when?
I would advise getting your other vendors in on the conversation as well. The more you have a solid plan in place, the more at ease you will feel going into your big day. -Jessica Bressmer, Tampa Airport Marriott
In Florida, especially during hurricane season, it's so important to talk to the photographers you are interviewing about what they do when it rains! True professional wedding photographers are not natural light only. It just isn't possible when the weather doesn't cooperate and there is no natural light to be had. If everything has to be inside, we'll use locations inside by large windows, under awnings or even with umbrellas outside using off camera flash or LED lights. Rain actually makes for some really cool photos. If it's raining during the time when we are doing portraits, but stops later, we'll even take our couples outside whenever it stops raining or in the most extreme circumstance, we would even do a shoot with the couple after the wedding when the weather is more cooperative. There's no controlling the weather, but your wedding professionals should be prepared for any situation! -Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography
Be A Good Host
The ideal backup plans are that your venue can accommodate your full guest count in an inside space if it rains or that you have budgeted for a tent if staying outdoors. The key is to really think the event through from the guest's perspective. If it's raining and you have a tent outside for seating, where is the food, bar and bathroom located? Have you selected a tent that is able to house these, or do your guests have to walk out of the tent and into the elements for them? Also consider your vendors and their setup requirements. For caterers, will we have access to an indoor kitchen or will we need a separate tent for outside food prep? Do servers have to walk through uncovered, outdoor areas with plates of food? The key to dealing with rain on your wedding day is a well-thought-out logistical plan! -Amy Kensinger, Good Food Catering Company
If you’re set on having an outdoor wedding, have it partially indoors too just for backup purposes. Backup plans are always a good idea because you can never be too prepared, but make sure your backup plan is just as good as your first. If you have a specific date in mind, look at past weather reports on that day. Remember the weather is very unpredictable. -Danielle Dziwulski & Sarah Chesser, Limelight Photography
Bad Weather and Your Decor Do Not Mix
Wind can greatly affect the design or how the flowers are placed. We have run into a couple of situations where the wind has had us not placing flowers in glass vases on tables due to the possibility of them blowing over, even under tents. We have to make these adjustments for the safety of the the guests. Recently at the Hyatt Clearwater Beach, we were placing arrangements on iron stands on the Sky View area on the 16th floor with wind gusts exceeding 30mph. The MacGyver instinct had to kick in, and we did it! Keeping the arrangements in place along with added attention to the construction and mechanics of the arrangements, and we did not lose a flower. It was so windy the flowers looked as though they were clapping. Being able to adjust to the environment on a whim is part of the job. -Scott Darhower, Apple Blossoms Floral Designs
It is imperative that all outdoor events have a weather backup plan. We've had more than one disappointed client when they failed to plan for inclement weather. I also recommend that clients educate themselves on the weather limitations of their rental items. Can the chairs, tables and dance floor, etc get wet and still be used? For example, our chiavari chairs and cushions are not weather-friendly therefore, we are unable to set these items if rain is imminent. We do however have a dance floor that is weather-friendly. In the case where our client has reserved chiavari chairs, an indoor backup location is necessary in order to use them for the event. In this situation, its important for the rental provider to know if the event will be moved, where to and if additional time should be allowed for delivery. Please also understand that a decision to move locations needs to be made possibly several hours earlier for all vendors to have time to set including the florist. I recommend that clients relay their backup plans to all vendors who may be effected as soon as possible so that they can work together to develop the best plan for everyone. -Samantha Valentine, Signature Event Rentals
Relax, It's Just Rain
Embrace the rain. We live in Florida, the weather can be unpredictable, so make the best of the day and situation and just embrace what Mother Nature gives you. Who said you can't have amazing wedding images in the rain? We will prove that you can! -Andi Diamond, Andi Diamond Photography