How to Prepare for the Weather on Your Elopement Day
The thought has crossed your mind a few times. What happens if the weather is bad on the day of your elopement?
When you choose to have an outdoor adventure elopement or intimate wedding, the weather becomes a big factor in your day. Throughout our years as elopement photographers + videographers, we've run into our fair share of crazy weather. This has ranged from predictable afternoon thunderstorms, to light rain showers, to gusting winds, to unforecasted blizzards.
It's completely normal for the thought of this to make your palms sweat. And while none of us can control the weather (if you know someone who can, please put us in contact with them), there are some things we can do to minimize and even avoid some of these weather disturbances!
First, let's talk about the two ways you can minimize your chances of bad weather from the get-go.
Think About Weather When You Are Choosing Your Location
The definition of bad weather will vary from person to person. One person might consider snow bad weather, while another person might love when it snows. One person might dread the heat, while another person craves the hot sunshine.
The first step in avoiding "dealbreaker" weather is to begin thinking about what your ideal elopement day is like even before you choose your location. Are you the kind of person who loves when it's dry and hot? Maybe consider Joshua Tree National Park in California, Moab, Utah, or even Sedona, Arizona. Or are you the kind of person who loves brisk air and isn't worried about the rain? Maybe consider Isle of Skye in Scotland, Fiordlands National Park in New Zealand, or a rocky coastline in the Pacific Northwest. Do you hate the rain? Maybe skip the British Isles or the Faroe Islands.
By having an open and honest conversation about the kind of weather you'd like to avoid, you can set yourselves up for the best chance of favorable weather possible.
Choose The Right Time Of Year For Your Location
All this being said, the time of year is going to make a huge impact on the weather in your chosen location. For example, Colorado might be a nightmare for a couple who hates the snow and wants to get married in December. But Colorado might be a dream for that same couple if they want to get married in July.
Sometimes, you will have to decide which is the non-negotiable. Either your location or the time of year in which you get married.
For example, say you and your partner have both agreed that you want to get married in Colorado, and you are hoping for warm weather with no chance of snow so you can do some hiking. To give you the best chance of favorable weather, we would suggest eloping in July or August.
But what if you and your partner want warm weather, with no chance of snow, but you can only get time off of work in January? Colorado is no longer going to be a good option for you. Instead, we would work with you to brainstorm some other ideas. Are you flexible about the kind of location you want to get married in? Maybe look into San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The weather will be perfect in January, and it is surprisingly not too humid there. Or do you have your hearts set on mountains? Consider Kauai, Hawaii, or let's head to the Southern Hemisphere and explore Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania, or Fiordland National Park in New Zealand.
Being flexible when planning your elopement will allow you to really take weather into consideration and help set yourselves up for the most comfortable elopement day possible!
Beyond temperatures, it is important to pay attention to your location's rainy season. Even if you're down to play in the rain, we recommend avoiding seasons with heavy rain. For example, many locations in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, have pronounced rainy seasons (also called monsoon season) that should be avoided, if possible.
How To Prepare For Bad Weather
So you've taken the time to research different elopement location options, and you've finally agreed on a location that checks all of your boxes. You should be in the clear, right? Hopefully, but not necessarily.
Weather does what weather wants, and it's up to you to be prepared for whatever it throws at you. By having the proper gear and clothing, relax knowing that no matter what happens, you are ready for it.
No matter where you choose to elope, there are a few things you should consider bringing with you that could end up saving the day.
- Waterproof Jacket
- Warm Sweater or Jacket
- A Pair of Light Gloves
- Hiking Boots for Hiking in Mud or on Difficult Terrain
- Small, Packable Umbrella
- Water Bottle or Camelback
- Bug Spray
Say a heat wave comes through on your wedding day. On days that the heat will make it impossible to enjoy the outdoors, we work with our couples to create a second timeline that allows us to avoid the heat of the day. Typically, this would mean starting the day earlier, at sunrise, if possible. Not only would that allow us to take advantage of gorgeous sunrise light, but it would also allow us to get your ceremony and some exploring in before it gets too hot. We could also adjust locations, if necessary. Maybe there's a shaded forest area nearby that we could stop at, or maybe there's a nearby swimming hole that we could dip our feet into.
One important thing to think about for hot days is making sure you have enough water. We recommend everyone (including any guests you might have) to have plenty of water so no one gets dehydrated.
Depending on the location and time of day you choose for your elopement, there is a high chance that it will be at least a little chilly at some point on your wedding day. This could be because you are up hiking to get to the end of a trail by sunrise, or you are hiking back to the trailhead after sunset. Because of this, we always recommend having some warm clothes to put over your wedding clothes. These don't have to be “photo-worthy” but they should be waterproof and enough to keep you warm if it's windy.
If you are looking at the forecast and see that a cold front is coming in, there are a few things you can do! The first is to pack some warm socks for your hiking boots, a pair of gloves, and maybe even a hat for the hike back down. If you or your partner plan on wearing a dress, we suggest buying a jacket or wrap that you are comfortable being photographed in, just in case it's too cold to wear the dress alone. Tights or leggings can also be a lifesaver when worn under a dress. Nude leggings can be worn without worrying about how it looks under a dress. Hand warmers and adhesive body warmers can also make a world of a difference!
If it's just a little chilly, the elopement can usually go as planned, particularly if everyone (including your guests) has clothes to layer up with. If it is unbearably cold, we can discuss some possible backup options, such as going to a location that doesn't require a hike, making frequent trips to the car to warm up, or moving outdoor ceremonies indoors.
Many of our couples worry about rain on their wedding day. It's probably the most common type of weather we've experienced throughout our time as elopement photographers + videographers. Because of this, we have chosen equipment specifically for its ability to withstand some rain. We also always travel with covers for our equipment in case the rain is really coming down. So unless the weather conditions are unsafe (flood warnings, lightning, or hail), we are always game to brave the rain!
Some locations, such as the mountains in Colorado, are known for their afternoon thunderstorms in the summer. These usually come through pretty quickly and can usually be waited out. But for this reason, we will suggest that our couples get married in the morning, before the storm rolls in, or in the evening, after the storms have moved on.
If rain is in your wedding day forecast, we suggest making sure you (and your guests) bring a waterproof jacket and boots, as well as have a supply of clear plastic umbrellas. These umbrellas are perfect to use during your ceremony because they don't detract from your location, but they will keep everyone as dry as possible.
There's no doubt that you will be watching the forecast like a hawk as your wedding day approaches. But it's important to know that many locations (such as Colorado, Isle of Skye, Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, or Iceland) are known for having untrustworthy forecasts. If you're still a couple weeks out, there is a high chance that the weather will change a few times before your elopement day. So don't panic if the forecast isn't looking ideal.
This is a good time to make sure you are prepared. Do you have everything on the emergency list? Do you need to buy some precautionary umbrellas for your guests? Do we need to start discussing a Plan B timeline for the day? All of these things are easy to do and should give you some peace of mind.
Keep a Positive Mindset
We'll admit, it can be disappointing when the weather doesn't cooperate with the vision you've set for your elopement. But it doesn't have to ruin the day. Preparing yourself in advance and bringing the proper clothing and emergency items (such as umbrellas and warm clothes) will help alleviate stress and allow you to experience your elopement day to its fullest, regardless of the weather! Remember, no matter what happens, you will still get married and you will have amazing stories to tell.
We've said it before, but we'll say it again: Flexibility is key for an adventure elopement. For many of our elopements in fickle locations (such as Isle of Skye or Faroe Islands), we will automatically create a Plan A timeline as well as a Plan B timeline for the day. The Plan B location will prepare us for unfavorable weather and often avoid long hikes. That way everyone knows what to expect no matter what nature provides for us!
Sometimes Unpredicted Weather Will Add to Your Story in Unexpected Ways
Before you roll your eyes, let me explain! When we look back at the many elopements we've captured, often the ones that stand out are ones that didn't go completely as planned.
When we got married in Isle of Skye, Scotland, we knew that rain was a possibility all day. We watched the forecast like hawks and planned for our ceremony to be in a clear pocket. With our families, we climbed the hill that overlooks the Quiraing and could see the valley below as well as the ocean in the distance. The rain held out through our ceremony, but after our first kiss, the sky opened up and the rain poured down on us. Our families hurried back to the car park, but we stood at the edge of the cliff and watched the fog envelope us. We were wet and cold, but this moment ended up being our favorite moment from our entire wedding adventure.
(Our wedding photos were taken by Frankee Victoria Photography)
Joslyn + Robert got married on Memorial Day Weekend at Big Bear Lake, only a couple hours outside of Los Angeles, California. We expected to enjoy a warm, sunny day, but nature had other plans. A couple weeks before their wedding day, the forecast called for temperatures around 40° F and a mix of rain and snow throughout the day. They ordered a box of clear plastic umbrellas for the ceremony and Joslyn made sure to bring a pair of boots that she could trek through the mud in. Sure enough, they woke up to constant light rain and fog on the morning of their wedding. But Joslyn couldn't have been more excited. The forest felt extra magical that day and Joslyn kept mentioning how much she loved the fog, and the cold weather gave her even more reasons to cuddle up with Robert.
Brittany + Justin got married in the Faroe Islands on the 4th of July. This meant that we had long days and short nights. The sun rose around 3:45am and set around 11:15pm. This gave us a lot of flexibility to avoid bad weather. But as fate would have it, the rain and wind still made an appearance during their ceremony. We found a gorgeous ocean-fed lake surrounded by mountains on all sides. While Brittany + Justin exchanged their vows, a cloud of fog covered the tops of the mountains and the wind blew fiercely. When it was time for their first kiss, the wind whipped Brittany's hair and the fringe on her dress and created one of the most beautiful first kiss photos we've ever taken.
With all of this in mind, hopefully you’ve got a good idea of how to plan for a best case scenario. There are definitely ways to set yourself up for your own best case scenario and always aim for those. Then, if mother nature decides to switch things up a little, take comfort in knowing that it’s all just part of the adventure. Your elopement day will be gorgeous and fulfilling no matter what if you come prepared and embrace the unknowns.
We're Lisa + Alex, the goofballs behind Vow of the Wild. We live in the beautiful state of Colorado, but we are passionate about traveling to new places and meeting new people along the way. We are lucky enough to have what we consider to be the best job in the world (other than a professional dog petter). We get to create films and photos for adventurous Colorado Elopements and adventurous Destination Elopements across the globe! Feel free to reach out to us, we'd love to meet you!