Weather in Chicago – How to be prepared

Weather is one of the things you have zero control over. This is why we think it’s important to prepare as best you can for a rainy OR hot day because lets face it, Chicago has very  inconsistent weather. You could probably make a sitcom on how Chicago weather acts like a rollercoaster. We have had 80 degree weddings in October, but we’ve also seen snowfall in October. Same goes for March weddings. On a lucky March day it could be high 70s, but don’t take the matching bridesmaid shawls out of consideration until you hit the unpredictable month the year of your wedding.

Weather Trends/Our favorite months to get married in Chicago

We have been seeing a shift in the Chicago weather overall. It seems as though hot weather is pushing later into the year. Has anyone else noticed that there is no consistent warm weather until June and for the past few years it’s been very enjoyable weather in October? This is why we have seen a direct shift in wedding “busy season” in the windy city. Our personal favorite months for a wedding are September and October. We believe there is the least likely chance there is rain and/or snow. Also summer camps and busy weekend schedules have settled down so we’ve seen a higher percentage guest attendance for fall weddings compared to the summer. And the last perk about September and October weddings is the change of seasons! It only lasts a few weeks at most, but if your lucky and your wedding lands while the leaves are changing colors, your pictures are bound to be beautiful.

Questions to ask yourself if it’s predicted to be excessive heat
  1. Do you have enough fans to cool off your guests for a tent wedding?
  2. For outdoor ceremonies, do you have water and/or other cold beverages for guests? Also think about doubling your programs as fans so your guests can use those to cool off too.
  3. What are the groomsmen wearing? Is it appropriate for them to take off their jacket and still look nice?
  4. Suggest the groom and groomsmen bring an extra white shirt to change into later (JUST in case)
  5. Consider hiring a chilled dessert vendor such as an ice cream or gelato cart, custom popsicles, or spiked ice pops to cool off your guests in the hot weather.
  6. If you are a bride (or bridesmaid) and were planning on wearing your hair down, consider choosing an up-do instead. That typically holds better AND will keep you more cool because no hair is sticking to your neck.
  7. Pack your bathroom basket with tools that will help guests. Heat related items may include spray deodorant (clear color/invisible), hair spray, oil wipes and bobby pins (to pin back unwanted hairs).
  8. Are you going to have sunglasses for guests if your ceremony is outdoors?
  9. Ask your florist if they should use any silk flowers OR change the floral composition due to heat. Some flowers last longer despite the heat, and some will wilt the second they see the sun (like hydrangea).
  10. Does your shuttle/trolley have air conditioning?

Questions to ask yourself if rain is predicted
  1. Are you providing valet so guests do not have to walk from the parking lot in the rain?
  2. Do you have an extra pair of shoes to take pictures outside so your nice pair does not get stained?
  3. Where will you take your pictures if you were planning on taking them outside? We wrote some suggestions further down in this blog, keep reading!
  4. Does your trolley have window covers to protect you from poor weather?
  5. Did you leave in buffer room on your schedule in case travel time is extended because of the poor weather and bad drivers?
  6. Consider hiring your makeup artist and hair stylist to touch you up before cocktail hour. For an additional fee (varies per company) you usually can hire your glam crew to meet you at your venue to touch you up before mingling with guests at cocktail hour. After all of your bridal party pictures in the rain (this can also be applied to very hot weddings too) you may not look exactly how you envision.
  7. Do you have a coat check? Even if it’s not cold, guests may wear rain jackets or bring umbrellas that would be nice to check before entering the reception.

Weather Back Up Plans

If you choose to have an outdoor wedding for any portion of your wedding (especially ceremony and dinner service) you have to take into consideration a weather back up plan, NO MATTER WHAT. You can do as many rain dances as you want but it’s not going to help. I would say this is one of the most stressful problems that couples ‘complain’ and worry about because it’s so unpredictable.

The most common weather back up plan is having a room flip. A room flip is when you have a ceremony in the same room your dinner and dancing is in (does not apply to church ceremonies). During cocktail hour, the vendors “flip” the room from ceremony setup to dinner setup. It’s amazing how fast people move to make this happen within that one hour time constraint. If there is a huge change in décor or overall setup, some caterers or venues require the guests to have a 1.5 hour cocktail duration. This is not our favorite because it tends to be a long time for guests to stand and mingle (and people get hungry!) but you have to do what you have to do.

Tent Wedding Back Up Plans

What happens if you have an all outdoor tent wedding? Our favorite suggestion is having a floor installed. If you are unfamiliar with flooring prices, well you may be shocked when you get the initial quote. They are NOT cheap. Estimate a minimum of few grand, but overall it will depend on the size and floor material. Even if it does not rain on your wedding day but rained the entire week before, you will have issues. That grass is going to be inches deep of muddy soggy terrain. Guests will complain that their shoes are getting destroyed, and don’t forget it could be a safety issue if someone slips.

One more thing you have to consider with tent weddings is walk ways. Lets put the flooring behind us and think about the times when guests will not be covered by a tent. Maybe there are portolets a few yards away (so they’re not in every photography picture). Or maybe you have to walk from the ceremony tent to the dinner tent. What happens if it’s raining? There are a few things you can do.

  1. Install an awning – The way to go!! If you have covered walk ways, it will put a smile on your guests faces. The ladies will not have to worry if their hair is getting rained on and the gentlemen do not have to lend the ladies their jackets!
  2. Buy umbrellas. This is our second favorite suggestion. If you purchase umbrellas in bulk, you could lend to guests as they walk between tents.
  3. Delay your services. If you see a rain cloud will be passing within a half hour, consider pushing the wedding back. If you do this, you have to inform ALL vendors, especially your caterer, so they can all prepare and adjust their timelines.

Chicago photo locations that are beautiful even if it rains
  1. Lyric Opera House
  2. The Art Institute of Chicago – you need to have a membership to get in though. Some photographers purchase a membership for the year, so make sure to ask if this is an option with yours. It most likely will limit to 4 guests though, which would include the couple and photographers.
  3. Under the Trump Hotel awning – It’s not very wide so sometimes can be hard if you have a large bridal party, but it’s nice because this is in the center of the city.
  4. Union Station (pictured below) – be prepared to wait your turn to take pictures. This is a very common place for bridal parties to go. If you want pictures with no one walking in the background, it may take some time.

Our BIGGEST Helpful Hint

Do NOT check the weather app until a few days before the wedding IF you are prepared for either rain or shine (pre-purchase umbrellas without removing the tags just in case). I’m sure this has happened to you before; you are going to a big event and continue to check the weather from a 10-day forecast. Heavy rain is predicted the day of the event all 9 days leading up to it. But wait, you checked the night before (because you can’t stop refreshing the app) and all of a sudden it starts to clear up. Is this possible? Of course!!! We don’t understand how weather men have jobs, no offense. Most of the time they are incorrect. So do not let those tears shed because your all-outdoor weather has rain predicted a week before. It’s not worth the stress. And even if it does rain, you have to embrace it otherwise it will take away from your wedding day. We have had some of the most iconic and beautiful weddings that had stunning overcast photos, some cute white umbrella pictures, and rain boots under a wedding dress. Finally, look for a rainbow!! It’s one of the most beautiful natural backdrops you can get. If a rainbow pops out take advantage of the opportunity.

Your wedding day is ONE day in your entire life that you can’t “re-do” it it’s gross outside. If it happens to rain or is so hot an egg can fry on the ground, there is nothing you can do about it. Embrace the weather because your big day is only going to be what you make of it. Rain or shine baby!!

Picture Credit from beginning to end: Dennis Lee, Artisan Events, Lilly Photography, Next Level Photography, Bellissima Photo (2), Dennis Lee (2)

-Ohana Events