Bride and groom running across a road in the pouring rain.

Bad Weather Backup Plans for Your Wedding Day

When you’re planning the perfect wedding, it can be easy to get so wrapped up in the planning that you forget about the details that you can’t control, but need to plan for. One thing we often overlook is what happens if there’s a storm or heavy rain on the day of your outdoor wedding ceremony. Planning for these types of “what if” situations in advance will help ensure that your day goes off without a hitch (even if you have to make some last minute changes).


Although you can’t know what the weather will be like for sure on your wedding day, you can make some educated guesses based on the date and location. Choosing a local wedding venue gives you the advantage of knowing what to typically expect for weather around that date. If you’re imagining a setting that your local area can’t provide, you may want to do some research before booking to find the most recent weather trends for that area around your chosen date.


With your venue and date carefully chosen, the next big task is the backup plan. Luckily, you have options! Here are a few that we’ve put together for you.

Indoor wedding ceremony setup with alter and rows of chairs.

The “Second Location” Backup:

If your venue has an indoor and outdoor location available, take advantage of that! You may really want that gorgeous outdoor ceremony with the sun shining and birds chirping, but if the rain starts pouring you’re really going to want to get to a dry place instead!

Work with your venue staff ahead of time to determine exactly how everything gets transferred inside in the case of unexpected precipitation, and queue in your DJ or announcer and officiant to that as well so they can announce to your guests the new plan at a moment’s notice. Be sure to practice in the alternate location with your wedding party to avoid unexpected obstacles from getting in the way.

Bride holding up dress while walking in the rain with groom under an umbrella.

The “Rain Gear” Backup:

Keep in mind, this option works best for quick outdoor ceremonies. If an indoor spot isn’t an option at all for your ceremony, you might consider providing gear like umbrellas, ponchos or blankets as favors. Be sure to designate someone to distribute these items to guests, or set up a self-serve station in a location guests have to pass to find their seats. You’ll also want a designated umbrella holder for yourselves and your officiant. This may be your wedding party member directly beside you, or just someone with the arm strength to hold that umbrella while you say “I Do”. Definitely don’t attempt to hold your own umbrellas! You’ll want both hands free to avoid any fumbles with notes or wedding rings during the ceremony (and that first kiss, of course!).

The “Short and Sweet” Backup

This plan can be risky, and only applies if you see bad weather rolling in before it’s already there (so it’s probably wise to choose one of the previous plans as a Plan C just in case).

You’ll need to work with your officiant ahead of time to determine what alterations will need to be made to cut out as much time as possible without losing any of the important stuff. Things like lengthy musical entrances and exits, in depth introductions, extra poems/readings and non-essential unity ceremonies are usually the first things to consider eliminating. Remember to practice reading your vows and going through the motions (with your officiant, if possible) ahead of time to make sure you have both versions of the ceremony down.

If the radar shows some ugly fronts heading your way, have your designated weather radar watcher tip off the officiant and person in charge of the ceremony music ahead of time and send regular updates leading up to your ceremony time. Also consider having someone announce the change and reason why to guests who might also get caught in the weather if you can’t beat it.

Outdoor wedding ceremony set up under canopy tents with wine barrels placed around the tents.

The “Wedding Canopy” Backup

We’ve probably all seen those pop up tents or canopies used for all sorts of outdoor events, and sometimes even smaller ones used for a backyard barbeque or camping trip. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that those same mechanisms can be used to keep the precipitation off of your wedding ceremony.

If it looks like you might end up with a dry but blustery day, the three-walled pop up tents with a roof might just be the way to go. For some sprinkles or other straight-falling precipitation that isn’t too heavy, a canopy should do the trick. Just remember not to put guest seating too close to the edges, in case the wind tries to help the rain crash your covered ceremony.

These types of tents can be rented from most event rental companies, and you can also buy them from your nearest home improvement or hardware store. Most are fairly quick to set up, so you can even keep them on standby if you’re holding on to the chance of good weather until the day of.

There you have it! With a sound yet flexible plan in place and an open mind, your wedding day will be amazing no matter what changes come up. When things do inevitably go amiss, remember that the most important part of your plan went absolutely right – marrying the love of your life!

Do you have more ideas or experiences with bad weather backup plans? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a comment on this blog or direct message us on Facebook or Instagram.

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