Wedding Planner Stories: Meteorology
Generally, I can count on the weather being stable from around early/mid-June until mid-October. In fact, most of our clients have outdoor weddings and they don’t need any sort of “Plan B” for their wedding. Why rent a tent, do a ton of extra work and place a non-refundable deposit on something that isn’t going to be needed anyway? But last January, when I was speaking at The Special Event Show in Chicago, I came across Charlie Shortino, a meteorologist who was launching a company called Big Day Weather. The site wasn’t live yet, but I liked what he had to say. You can have a meteorologist on speed dial and get 4 phone consultations for your client’s wedding. He’s accurate within a small area of the event also….I put the information on the back burner. Until I needed it just two weeks ago.
Heading into our September 22 wedding, we were all outdoors. And it was my birthday and it has maybe rained on my birthday once or twice in my entire life. So, I felt confident and comfortable keeping the event in the outdoor private estate the client had booked. The event was going to be nothing short of spectacular – a design I’ve never done before that was completely unable to be done in an indoor location. The wedding was managed more like a corporate event or fundraiser in that it was not a typical bride in a white gown and a groom in a tux – we started the event with garden cocktails and several food stations followed by a Gospel choir singing Rock & Soul songs, a standing ceremony, outdoor reception with multiple bands , 15′ high truss structure, three separately designed food areas that had and an insane amount of food & beverage, a covered pool for dancing & the bar – all in a completely untentable space with a three day setup, 1 day event and 2 day strike. If it rained…I feared this event would be in full cancellation mode. Weather is the bane of any event planner’s existence – you want to have a beautiful and perfect day for your client. The only element I dislike more than rain is wind… because it can wreak just as much havoc on a party.
When I checked the weather 7 days prior, the forecast was off an on rain for the days surrounding the event for about 7 days prior. It kept transferring the weather from Thursday to Friday to Saturday and Monday. The wedding was on Sunday. That type of instability will make anybody a little crazy but an event planner and her bride? That’s a recipe for a trip straight to the psych ward.
So, while the weather people locally were vacillating between it raining and not running early in the week, I was turning to my personal meteorologist to give me insight on what to do. Charlie gave me good, sound advice and watched the weather non-stop for me. I was able to call on him when I needed reassurance and he could tell me the amount of rain, for how long it was going to rain and approximately when it was going to stop. The majority of the weather came through on Saturday morning and early afternoon. But as he told me it would, the rain passed and we were able to uncover, squeegee off and dry out before the wedding the following afternoon. I could look at it hourly and step by step with a GPS location that was exactly my event.
What ended up happening was the system slowed down and came later than the screen shots above that I had sent to my client the day prior. The rain actually arrived late Friday night and into around 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon instead.
I think that had I note spent the nominal amount of money on Big Day Weather, I would have surely been a complete and total mess. We can control a lot of things in weddings & events but weather is not one of them and when you’re facing an atypical weather pattern, it can make you even more tense. I learned a lot about meteorology and how they forecast and the different types of models as well as why it’s so difficult to be accurate in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I will suggest Charlie’s service for all of my events – whether it is going to be what is expected to be a normal summer wedding or a wedding on the cusp seasons. The peace of mind was so worth it! I would highly suggest hiring him for events and weddings where you are even HOPING to have a chance at an outdoor event. In hindsight, I would have hired him right away instead of 5 days prior to the wedding.
I know a lot of things but weather is not one of them.