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Monday, October 10, 2005

Brides do not control the heavens.

Let's talk about outdoor weddings.

Take yesterday, for instance. I went with Jim from my band Mappamundi to do a wedding at the J. C. Raulston Arboretum.

Assessment of said Arboretum for weddings: negative.
  • No cover in case of rain.

  • Everybody has to walk a long long way from the parking lot, down a narrow muddy unattractive path, to get to this spot. No alternative for people who have trouble walking.

  • Biggest problem: the site is near a big road and roaring traffic drowns out the softspoken young people reading, generally, from Ecclesiastes.
On the plus side, now, the young man setting up chairs was nice and helpful.

It's a pity how few outdoor spaces are actually quiet any more. Weddings at Fearrington have this same problem. It's pretty there (the belted Galloways are particularly picturesque) but you might as well wed on the verge of the highway. "You'll find our wedding party on I-24 between exit 14 and exit 15 - just pull off into the breakdown lane" - at least the directions would be simple.

The weather was cold, grey, drizzly. Even in a long sleeve shirt and sweater I was cold - imagine how shivery were the bride, wearing one of those strapless wedding dresses so popular this season, and her bridesmaids, wearing thin flouncy maroon chiffon dresses with spaghetti straps (out from under several of which could be seen large, garish tattoos featuring, on one bridesmaid, bold multicolored patches floweringly blazoned CARPE on one shoulder-blade and DIEM on the other).

So everybody was late, late, late getting on site - probably hoping the weather was going to turn. So Jim and I were sitting in a light drizzle, the legs of our chairs sinking a little into the mud, playing for the few hardy souls willing to sit on damp and clammy chairs.

The huddled assemblage's few desultory conversations were punctuated by anxious looks up into the sky.

Brides, is this really what you want?

Whenever a bride calls to hire us for an outdoor wedding,
one of my first questions is:
"What Is Your Rain Plan??"
So this is a common bride's response:
OK, I say that's not a rain plan.

This type of bride, see, she think's it's "her day" so if she doesn't want it to rain it won't. That reasoning doesn't always wash, so to speak.

Here are two rainy-wedding stories.

"She's in denial."

A wedding at Spruce Pine Lodge. It is raining. There is a perfectly nice log cabin reception hall the wedding could be moved into. The guitarist and I are reminding the bride's mother, who is the only person available to discuss this with, that we cannot play our wooden instruments in the rain.

Glancing through the window at her daughter, standing defiantly out there ruining her hairdo, she says: "You're going to have to give her some time; she's in denial."

Outcome: the time available was not sufficient to bring her out of that state of denial, so Joe and I stood in the log cabin, leaning out the window, playing as loudly as we could, while drenched women in filmy and soon ultra-clingy little dresses were shuddering with cold.

Coda: after the reception, which thankfully took place under a roof, the bride and groom, dressed in white satin bicycling outfits and white helmets with white ribbons and special white bikes, went biking away into the rain to some location twelve miles distant. This had been the bride's plan and she stuck with it.

"There's room for you in the corner of the tent."

An outdoor wedding is taking place at a lovely bed-and-breakfast in Hillsborough.

We arrive before the rain; the chairs are already set out and so is the gorgeous chuppah, which appears to be of hand-embroidered satin.

As the guests begin to arrive, the heavens open up.

We scurry for the tent, as do the majority of the guests. However, the wedding party and the rabbi are trapped in the inn where they have been signing the ketubah. Water starts to collect in the chuppah and it commences to collapse.

For half an hour, we play in the tent - but not quite far enough into the tent, because there isn't space, so rain pours off the edge of the tent into Ken's guitar case.

People in the doorway of the inn look longingly through the continuing downpour at their friends and relations in the tent, and vice versa.

When the rain slackens and briefly ends, helpful guests rush out and wipe off the seats. The wedding party rushes out of the inn and the rabbi holds one of the quickest services ever.

The deluge recommences and everybody squeezes back into the tent with us, rain still pouring into Ken's case. The next time the rain slacks off, everybody goes home.

Brides do not control the heavens.

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At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brrrs. Not exactly dream weddings in the wet and cold.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Jude said...

Loved this post. Some years ago my eldest daughter planned her outdoor wedding to take place on a bluff beside a mountain walking track and ordered a pair of 4WD buses to transport the guests out to the location. It rained! Fortunately there was a rain plan and we sat under a marquee at the nearby resort, but still shivering.

At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so funny. I've sat through so many outdoor wedding in the summer in Texas. Folks, it's really, really hot here in July! Even in September, honestly. We're all shvitzing and the Rabbi says, "Don't worry. I haven't lost a bride yet! Someone might faint, but not the bride!"

At 1:11 PM, Blogger kenju said...

Have you done one at the Greystone in Durham? The traffic from the freeway drowns out everything from the wedding. If they don't have microphones, no one can hear the vows.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Batya said...

Just last night I was at a wedding, winter wedding near Jerusalem, outdoor chuppah. My friend and I went in, since our feet were frozen. So we sat at the table and shmoozed, sort of rude but much healthier than watching the ceremony.

At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I'm an engineer and I never design anything without safety factors. I had an extra large tent WITH walls, two large propane powered heaters, etc. My wedding took place during a nor-easter, a few hundred feet from Lake Erie, and it worked out wonderfully! During a break in the rain, we got some beautiful photos by the lake with my hair flying and the water roiling behind us. :)

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Amberdawn said...

Any general suggestions then? I'm so nervous about rain; I want a sunny day for my outdoor wedding, but I've started having visions of intense heat, rain, mosquitoes, I'm getting nervous! Obviously I'll have a tent, and I hear you can heat a tent as well as cool it down, but I'm worried about having nowhere for photos. What's a bride to do?

At 6:47 AM, Blogger melinama said...

Hello Amberdawn! Thanks for asking! You could have a perfect, beautiful weather day - or not. I've seen many rainy-day brides say they loved their pictures. Take umbrellas if there's rain in the forecast, or get your pictures taken the next day. If you have enough tent space, you're covered in my opinion! But some people have only a small tent (for instance, to cover the horsdoeuvres) and that won't do. Yes, it's wasteful to be prepared for rain but...


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