Alas, an outdoor ceremony also has the potential for disaster. Nature is unpredictable and as much as we would like to believe all will be well, the sad truth is that the weather doesn't care who is getting married at any particular moment in time.
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As odd as this sounds, if you have your heart absolutely set on an outdoor wedding ceremony, you probably shouldn't plan one. These occasions demand a bridal couple willing to make accommodations if inclement weather threatens the event. I recommend the following if you are interested in exchanging your vows in the great outdoors.
1. Know the general climate and weather patterns of your wedding location like the back of your hand. Although, Florida is known as the Sunshine State it could just as easily be called the Intermittent Thunderstorm State or Unbelievably Hot and Humid State. I have encountered couples from up north who planned destination weddings here and honestly did not realize how uncomfortable the summer months are, even at sunrise and sunset. Even in the shade, temperatures routinely exceed 90 degrees in July and August. Likewise, it can come as a surprise to some people that we do have days during the winter that are downright cold. I once officiated a wedding on New Year's Day where the poor bride and bridesmaids shivered through the entire thing in their strapless gowns on a day with a high I'm not sure exceeded 40 degrees. Whether you are getting married in Florida, Alaska or somewhere in between, know what to reasonable expect.
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2. Arrange in advance for an alternative location for inclement or uncomfortable weather. No one should ever plan an outdoor wedding without having an alternative venue lined up just in case it's rainy, too hot, too windy or too cold. If you're getting married at a hotel, country club, or other such venue that routinely books weddings, you're likely to have a back up location readily available. If your preferred venue does not have convenient shelter on site, either arrange for something else relatively close by as your back up or strike it off your list and move on to your next choice. This holds true whether you have two guests or two hundred. Have a back up plan!
3. Be prepared to use your alternative venue and have someone else make the decision when the time comes. Brides can become emotionally attached to their mental expectations of the wedding and therefore are not the best person to make the call when inclement weather threatens the ceremony. A wedding planner, venue staff, officiant, family member or friend with sound judgment should be allowed to determine whether or not the ceremony will proceed outdoors as planned. For example, as Florida is the lightning capital of the world, I will be the "bad guy" and move a ceremony indoors if I feel safety is an issue. I certainly hope brides would prefer to be married indoors than see someone struck by lightning at their wedding.