Why having a Plan B might be a wise move.
With Storm Ciara leaving the UK feeling somewhat bashed and battered and Storm Dennis on his way this weekend, we have spent some time in these wild climes pondering weddings and the unpredictable nature of our Great British weather. We wonder whether there is a way to measure the hours spent by couples agonising over their wedding day weather and whether having a Plan B when planning your big day is an essential?
Like hoping for a row of sunshine symbols on the forecast for your long-awaited holiday to Spain, wedding weather watch can be an all-consuming (and fruitless) occupation. As the day looms ever closer and the pesky rain symbols refuse to shift, it can send even the most level headed into a frenzy of worry. Are wedding wellies a no no and just how will Auntie Susan cope with her walking frame in the sodden mud at the reception venue? Will Sainsbury’s have any of those amazing clear umbrellas in stock and where on earth can I buy 12 matching hunter green pashminas from with just three days to go…
Wedding Weather Watch
For some brides, the weather isn’t an issue at all; they embrace whatever Mother Nature has in store for them. Making snow angels in their wedding best even though it’s meant to be a spring wedding, or dashing outside for some atmospheric shots as the most incredible thunder storm unleashes its surreal beauty. But what happens when the weather does the unthinkable and makes your existing wedding plans unworkable? Should every bride have a Plan B for the worst-case scenario?
Here at Wild Tipi, we specialise in outdoor ceremonies and receptions, which are immersed in nature. Perched high on coastal cliffs, nestled snug in idyllic woodlands, or set in acres of green rolling fields, these are the weddings that dreams are made of. Breath-takingly beautiful, inspired by the natural wonders of Cornwall and the South West. Quite honestly, we sometimes feel spoilt rotten with some of the locations we are fortunate to call home to our Giant Hats. But twinned with this amazement of nature, we also have to apply a degree of logic and respect as well. As the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho once said, “I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”
Wedding Plan Bs
As such, we always advocate that a Plan B is put in place with our couples. Some of our most striking locations with the most amazing views are extremely exposed should bad weather roll in. Generally, our wooden frame tipis are pretty good in all kinds of weather; they are aerodynamic enough to withstand some hefty winds. Our long-term set up at Saltram House has quite happily sat through the recent Storm Ciara without any damage or issues. Our tipis stay dry in the wet, cool in the summer and warm in the winter, so it takes quite a bit to phase us.
However, there are occasions when we do have to make decisions that impact on our couple’s Plan A. For example, just last year we were due to host a wedding at the St Agnes Rugby Club when the tail end of a hurricane blew into the UK. With winds gusting at 80mph, our team valiantly battled with the elements to get the tipi set up completed against all odds. We even hosted a viewing for a prospective couple during this time; oh can you imagine how all of our stomachs were churning?! In the end, the storm blew itself out and mercifully, come the wedding day, the tipi was set-up and the sun shone fiercely. In this case, there was no need for a Plan B, but we were all on standby regardless.
A real-life outdoor wedding
Also last year, the gorgeous Amy and Simon had planned an outdoor, cliff-top wedding ceremony at Newdowns Farm on St Agnes Beacon, which has the most incredible, sweeping views of the Atlantic. Knowing that this was an exposed site, Amy had opted for a tipi over a marquee. She told us this was because the Tipi was a more sturdy option for such an exposed site. “[They] feel warm and intimate in any weather or can be opened up to enjoy the day and provide some shade.” She continued, “We had everything from a Plan A to Plan Z for anything that could possibly happen with the weather; Plan A being a ceremony on the cliff-top overlooking the sea and Plan Z being a complete change of venue.
The week before the wedding was blazing hot sunshine so we asked the lovely Wild Tipi team to leave the tipis wide open on the one side facing the sea. As we were doing almost everything ourselves, we spent the week ferrying van loads of supplies and decorations and setting up the site in our shorts and sun cream.
When the weather gods have a different plan…
When the morning of the wedding finally came, we awoke to find the entire coast was shrouded in the thickest sea mist you could possibly imagine! You literally couldn’t see more than a metre in front of your face. Arriving at the site for final preparations, we found the entire set-up soaked through. Tables, napkins, all of our decorations were soaking wet and curling at the edges as the mist had crept into the open tipis overnight. Simon and I had stayed apart and agreed not to see each other on the morning of the wedding, but that plan was the first one out the window!
We spent the whole morning with emergency towels wiping down seating and benches and our wonderful friends and family helped us push back the furniture and set up the hay bales for the ceremony inside the tipis on the dance floor. The Wild Tipi team lowered the sides for us and cranked the heater in the hope things would dry out before the guests started to arrive.
An hour before the ceremony, we crossed our fingers, gave each other a hug and myself and the bridesmaids rushed back to the hotel to get ready… I turned my phone off against a million calls from guests stumbling around in the mist; [it] was so thick, they couldn’t even see the pallet signs we had laid out along the route.
After the frantic and slightly panicked morning, I stepped into the tipis for our ceremony and my breath was completely taken away. I can’t describe how it felt to see my husband standing there surrounded by all our loved ones inside our cosy tipis; all of them smiling and crying tears of happiness.
When Bad Weather Makes Amazing Memories
Guests told us afterwards how incredible the experience had been driving through the clouds (and hoping our directions were right!) and then stumbling around until our magical tipis loomed out of the mist. Once inside, they felt like you had walked into another dimension full of fairy lights, wildflowers and candles. We had the most intimate ceremony and everyone said how special it as to be together in this magical space. It was even better than the cliff-top ceremony we had imagined! Everyone could see and hear everything and every single one of our 120 guests felt like they were a part of our vows.
After the ceremony, we had the most stunning and unusual photos on the misty cliff top with the sea crashing below us. And to top it all off, when the pizzas arrived in the evening, the sun came out to display the most incredible sunset! Our guests and musicians spilled out of the tipis to dance and sing and eat in the field as the sun went down. We literally couldn’t have planned it better ourselves.
Happily Ever After
We are so grateful to Wild Tipi for turning up at the last minute to change the Tipi layout and get us dried out and warm in time for the ceremony. They were calm and helpful and so supportive throughout the entire process. Our guests were warm, comfortable and happy all day and we had wonderful emails from family and friends to say it was the most unusual, relaxed and beautiful wedding they had ever been to. And we agree!
The best part is that a week later, with the tipis down, our wedding venue had completely disappeared into the ether. Simon and I love the idea that our wedding day, along with the stunning venue and all our beautiful memories will forever exist somewhere in a magical wonderland and in the hearts of all our friends and family; it can certainly never be repeated.”
With these beautiful words, we look outside our window to the (currently) grey and windy weather outside. We can’t help but thinking that whilst a Plan B for your wedding day is a wise and sensible choice, to embrace nature and what she brings, might also be just the most magical thing imaginable.