I'm the sort of person who thinks through all contingencies. Some might say I overthink to the point of anxiety, but I'm a planner. And so, as the rain washes over Southern California again, in one of the rainiest years on record, I feel grateful that I insisted on a place with a rain plan.
Our rain plan isn't great, mind you. It simply entailed making sure we had an indoor reception space. Which we do.... but. Oh, the buts.
We picked our site for the outdoor ceremony space. The outdoor views speak to our hearts. The location speaks to our history, with our engagement adventure starting at a restaurant down the road. It's located in one of my favorite Los Angeles communities, and the wild, rustic, hills are a big part of that. It's a community that's been untouched by much of the urban density and paved-over nature throughout Los Angeles. Our ceremony site looks over the wild hills. It's just a mile or so from the beach, and the air is cleared by ocean breezes. And, to be practical, our site also has a functional-enough reception hall. With yellow-orange curtains on the stage. And flourescent lights. And barely enough space for our seating and dance floor under normal weather conditions (we're already seating people on the stage.) To make space for seating, we're planning on having the appetizer buffet, catering buffet, bar, and DIY photobooth outside, alongside the reception hall.
But now, with all this rain, I'm having to seriously think about what it could mean for us and our wedding. We won't be able to set up standard ceremony seating in the hall, since there's no where for people to go to turn the room back into a reception layout. We'll just get married in the dance floor or maybe on the stage, if people are willing to pitch in and move and reset a few tables. I'll probably end up looking drowned-rat bedraggled, despite my best efforts to stay dry (I'm a mess like that.) We'll probably get married under fluorescent lights, since our plan to use candles and white Christmas lights may not provide enough light (though I'd probably have a minor temper tantrum and scream about buying more candles and getting those paper bags with sand and votives for the ceremony. I should probably look into where we can buy those at the last minute). We'll have to move catering indoors, in the hallway behind the bathroom (sounds grosser than it is. There's a wide hallway in the back of the hall). We can't hang the pinata anywhere. We'll probably give up the DIY photobooth (no space). We may have to leave the bar outdoors, under an overhang, with heat lamps, because we simply don't have space.
When thinking about my wedding, many of the joys were bound up in our outdoor plans. In the space to move. In the setting we chose. But now, when February rains pour in with their ominous reminders of possible April scenarios, I'm having to re-imagine our wedding. Feel it become smaller. Less grand, in that most of the Pomp and Decor and Pretties will simply be washed away. Made irrelevant by circumstance. Instead it could become cramped. Or better yet, cozy. Shadowed where I had imagined natural light. Illuminated by a large fireplace and candles instead of the sun. Stripped bare of the physical beauty I had imagined. Transformed instead by the heart of the day and our words.
It's not what I wanted for my wedding. And in truth, it may not come to pass. But it's reminded me, in the most raw way possible, that it will still have everything I truly wanted from our wedding in the first place. We'll pull our families in tight together, and huddle around our ceremony words. We'll find a way to manage life's curveballs, pitch in to make the room layout work, and laugh. We'll dance to warm ourselves and not because it's That Time During the Reception. We'll find firewood and make a roaring fire. We'll buy skewers, marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate and make s'mores. We'll put aside my sangria hopes and instead we'll order a last minute hot water heater and hot chocolate packets.
If we have to use our rain plan, it won't be pretty. Not, at least, in the ways that I sometimes want my wedding to be pretty. But in having to think through marrying under fluorescent lights and against a weird orange curtain backdrop, I'm remembering that the real beauty of the day is something hard and tiny, lodged deep within my chest. The real beauty will get expressed in the knock-the-breath-out-of-me reaction when I think about becoming Jason's wife and him becoming my husband. The rest of it - planting our succulent centerpieces, finding a pinata, finding a cute shrug, making sure we have enough papel picado - it's a distraction. It's okay to get distracted by it, but it's even more okay to be reminded that, ultimately, it won't add anything to the real beauty of the day, even if we can get married on the hillside, under sunlit skies.