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Weather Contingency plans: How to prepare for outdoor weddings in the mountains

Because as they say... you can never predict the weather in the mountains

Kylie Morgan Photography

Outdoor weddings are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get weather-wise. While we all dream of perfect conditions, the reality is Mother Nature doesn't always RSVP with sunshine. It can bring unexpected guests like rain, wind, or even a heatwave. Especially here in the high mountain desert climate of Sun Valley, where it can snow on a Monday and be 80 on a Tuesday! As they say, you can never predict the weather in the mountains!

That's why having a contingency plan is not just recommended; it's essential. While having a Plan B is crucial, navigating the logistics can be overwhelming. At Megan Mahoney Creative, any outdoor event we plan will always have a contingency plan so we are ready for anything - be it a surprise downpour, a spike in temperature, or any other unexpected twist. It’s not a fun topic to discuss, but it’s an important one to have in place so we can swiftly set the backup plans in motion without missing a best. 

Let’s dive into understanding what you should think about and prepare for when planning an outdoor event.

Kylie Morgan Photography

1. Embrace the Great Outdoors, Plan for the Not-So-Great

The majority of our weddings in Sun Valley focus on the beauty of our natural surroundings, and therefore contain usually at least one outdoor element. We know the outdoors are an important part of weddings in Sun Valley, and now, we have to plan for her mood swings. When touring venues, ask about their weather contingency options. Do they have an indoor space that can match the beauty of the outdoors? Can a tent be set up quickly if clouds gather? Knowing your options ahead of time means you won’t be caught off guard.

2. Tent It Up

Speaking of tents, they are the Swiss Army knife in your weather contingency toolkit. Not only do they protect your guests from rain, but with the right setup, they can also shield everyone from that unexpected autumn chill or a particularly fierce sun. 

Pro Tip: When tent shopping, consider ones with removable sides – they offer flexibility to quickly adapt to changing weather conditions. That's Entertainment in Ketchum is a local favorite for tent rentals!

3. Timing is Everything

Did you know that certain times of the year are more prone to weather unpredictability? Do a little homework on your chosen location. Sun Valley's prime wedding season is June - October. While June is often gorgeous and filled with wildflowers, it can also snow. Tents are highly recommended for June weddings. July is usually a safe month, but can be hot, and August runs the risk of being smokey from Wild Flowers. September is often gorgeous, but it can also potentially snow, and the later we get into the season (October) the more unpredictable the weather can become! So long as you have a solid weather backup plan in place, you will be just fine.

4. Keep Your Guests in the Loop

Communication is key. If there’s a potential change due to weather, let your guests know as soon as possible. Whether it's through your wedding website, social media, or a quick text blast, keeping everyone informed not only shows thoughtfulness but also helps manage expectations. Plus, it ensures Aunt Linda won’t show up in her 3-inch heels if the venue has been moved to a softer, potentially muddier setting.

5. Plan B Styling

Your Plan B location doesn't have to feel like a second choice. Work with your planner and stylists to ensure your backup plan is as beautiful as your original. This might mean having additional décor items on standby that can transform any space to match your vision.

6. The Power of Positivity

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, keep a positive mindset. There's a certain magic in not letting the uncontrollable control your day. Embrace the moment, rain or shine. After all, there's something undeniably romantic about a couple dancing in the rain, completely lost in their love for each other.

Kylie Morgan Photography

Real Life Couple

Megan and Colter (pictured throughout) spent a beautiful summer planning their October 1st wedding at Sun Valley Resort's Trail Creek Cabin venue. While we watched the weather getting worse and worse throughout the week, the couple stayed hopeful that they could still get married outside. The morning of the wedding, the groom came to visit me during the set up to ask "should I tell my bride we're not getting married outside?"

After a night of torrential downpours, the grass was simply too soaked for guests, chairs, and the bridal party. The florist brought the umbrellas she had on hold for the event, and we pivoted to an indoor ceremony. Thankfully, Sun Valley Resort has a built in rain plan. We set up the ceremony on the dance floor, opened the tent wall, and guests were protected and still looking at the gorgeous mountain during the ceremony. Heaters were essential to the rest of the night going smoothly, and overall it was a smashing success despite the less than stellar weather.

Moral of the story? Work with a team that has your back AND has a rain plan.

Kylie Morgan Photography

Remember, outdoor weddings come with a unique set of challenges, but with a well-thought-out weather contingency plan, you’re setting yourself up for a memorable celebration for all the right reasons. But if the idea of navigating weather uncertainties feels overwhelming, let's chat. At Megan Mahoney Creative we specialize in creating seamless, beautiful outdoor weddings, prepared for anything the skies might throw our way. Reach out today, and let’s make magic happen, rain or shine!


Featured Photography by Kylie Morgan

Wedding Date: October 1, 2023

Venue: Sun Valley Resort

Catering: Sun Valley Resort

Couple: Megan & Colter

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