When I ask my clients if they were nervous or concerned about anything before their wedding in Central Park, by far the most frequent answer is that they were worried about the possibility of rain. This is such a common issue, but after planning and delivering over two hundred weddings we have seen rain maybe ten times, and weather has been so bad that we have rescheduled or re-arranged four times.
It is easy for me to say, we had lots of sunshine for our July wedding in Central Park, but if you have made the choice to get married in Central Park then you just have to make peace with the possibility that it might rain. There are things we can do to make a backup plan in case of bad weather, or you can just accept that you might get a little wet.
There are places in Central Park that provide shelter from some rain. We can purchase a plan A event permit and a plan B wet weather permit if a couple has a group that will fit inside one of the structures with shelter. Or, a couple can be a little pessimistic and just make one plan, and decide to marry in the location that provides shelter. The Ladies’ Pavilion and Belvedere Castle Terrace have shelter, and a very large group will fit under Bethesda Terrace. Couples must remember that if it’s raining, other people in Central Park will want shelter too, so these areas may get busy when it’s raining. When it rains, it can also be windy, and though Belvedere Castle Terrace has two covered areas, it is the highest point in Central Park, so it does get windy up there.
Couples can just accept that they and their guests may get a little wet and choose to bring umbrellas. The transparent ones are very popular and look great in wedding photos, because they won’t cast a shadow over your faces, or you could choose umbrellas to match your wedding colors! There are places, such as Wagner Cove, where the couple and an officiant can fit under cover and guests could carry umbrellas, but this wouldn’t be very kind in a downpour, and only really appropriate if you are only worried about a little drizzle.
An important point to remember is that many musicians cannot play in even a little moisture in the air. Classical instruments will by ruined by any dampness, so even if you decide to carry on in any rain then a musician may not be able to. We have had musicians agree to play if a guest can hold a large umbrella over them, but this sort of decision would be at their discretion.
Brides may want to keep in mind the possibility of wet ground when choosing their wedding dress. A long gown that reaches the floor with a train may well suffer if the ground is very wet. Similarly, brides may want to discuss styles with their hair and makeup artists, some styles will fair better in wet weather than others, but then that’s true of very hot and humid weather or wind, too. Shoes for photos and a pair for walking in might be helpful, in fact this might be a helpful tip in good weather or bad!
In all my contracts I say “in case of a change of plans or bad weather, every attempt will be made to work with a new date or suitable alternative location.” That may sound a bit vague but I think it has to be to cover any eventuality, and that’s what I try to do. Sometimes couples have had other reasons than the weather to ask to change the plans that we have made and I have done all I can to work with any new plans, whatever the reason. Myself and the couple will discuss the possibility of wet weather during the planning process, and we may work out a backup plan if the couple wishes to. We will be watching the weather forecast in the run up to the wedding day and if necessary will discuss wet weather options a day or two before the wedding.
Each couple is different, with different plans for their wedding day, so everyone will have something different that they would like to do if it rains. In many cases, if the wedding is a large one, with lots of guests, and a reception location booked and so on, then often the show must go on as originally planned. In these cases we might just move the location to somewhere under cover. In the case of eloping couples or a smaller group, then the couple can be more flexible, and in these instances we have been able to change the time of day of the wedding (ie if it was scheduled for the afternoon, but we have a wet afternoon and a dry morning forecast then we moved the wedding to the morning) or we have changed the day of the wedding (ie go with everything in plan A, just moved it to the following day).
The option of changing the date or time of a wedding can present a few issues. One is that we have an event permit for a date, time and location and we must allow at least three week’s notice for the Central Park Conservancy to issue that permit. So, if we are changing plans on a wedding at the last minute then we will not have a permit for our new last-minute plan. Some couples purchase a backup permit, but in many cases, if the party is under twenty people, then they can marry without a permit. Holding a wedding without a permit means that you could arrive at your chosen location and find that there is already a wedding taking place, but we have no choice but to wait for them to finish before we can move in to the area. I do not recommend this as a plan A option, because it can disrupt the rest of the schedule of your day, but if rain has already disturbed things, then a little more disorder may well be unavoidable.
Another issue is that when I book a photographer, officiant, and any other service provider then I am booking them for the date and time that I have agreed with the couple. The people I work with are all very obliging and ready to be flexible when they can be. So, in the case of a couple wanting to change their date or time, then I would simply ask the officiant (and anyone else booked for the day) if they can change the date or time that we have contracted for. Everyone I work with is busy, they might have another job alongside this occupation, or they may be booked for another wedding at that time. If they can change, they will, and they will do it free of charge, because they are great people, and we do try to remain flexible for each other because we value our relationship, but it might be that they cannot change. This has happened before, but fortunately I know lots of awesome people in the wedding business in New York, so I can simply book someone else. In this case there would have to be a fee for the extra person’s time. So, it might be that we can change a date or time of a wedding for a couple for no fee at all, and it might be that there will be a fee. We cannot say which it would be until the time comes that we need to re-arrange. Either way, there is no extra fee for my time to make any last-minute reshuffles.
In some cases a couple just cannot change their schedule for rain and they just have to accept it and even try to embrace it. If a couple have put lots of time and effort in to planning then this can be very upsetting. In one case, we discussed the possibility of the couple marrying in their hotel at the pre-arranged time and date, but then arranging for the photographer and them to meet the following day for some photographs in Central Park. In the end we didn’t need to, because the rain that was forecast didn’t come.
This is a very important thing to keep in mind when wedding planning; it really does not happen very often. A quick look through this blog will show that the vast majority of weddings in Central Park see dry weather, and often blue skies. There have been many occasions that I have been nervously watching the weather forecast and seen rain predicted, and then the day before the forecast has changed to sunshine. Manhattan does not tend to see as much rain as the rest of New York City, and it is important to remember that when looking at pessimistic forecasts.
It is important to stay cheerful and positive on your wedding day, even if there is some rain. It is the celebration of your union and you are only going to do it once. Your wedding day may not be completely perfect, but your marriage won’t be either! This is the first day of your married life and you are going to promise to stick together for better or for worse. This may include some rain, and it’s only water, after all. Your guests may have traveled a long way to celebrate with you and it is in everyone’s interests to remain positive. If you have made the choice to have an outdoor wedding, try to embrace nature and dance in the rain!