Friday, February 18, 2011

Rain Plan

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.

15 comments:

  1. Just make sure there is some yellow-orange somewhere in your decor to match the curtains, and no one will be the wiser! ;)

    I'll keep my fingers crossed for you for clear skies. But you'll be okay, even if it pours!

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  2. We lit our reception room with only christmas lights, and it was totally fine. I actually didn't believe my mother when she said it would be fine, but it was really fine. And it looked pretty, actually. No one noticed the linoleum floor, or if they did, they were nice enough not to mention it to me.

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  3. Oh girl, you got me. This is SO where you should be at right now. And it WILL be the cozy, not cramped, rain-plan event you imagine it to be - just as you imagine the sunlit sky wedding to be. Because at the end of the day, whether rain or shine, you have a new husband and whatever wedding-route you take to get there will be paved with all that you feel. And that feeling will be so amazing that those orange curtains will become so fucking peripheral - you won't even SEE them. That's what kinda happens when you're in love, right? We all have our "orange curtains" and being in love/a marriage isn't just about a perfect pinata or the space enough to smash it to bits. It's about making room for all the people you love, rearranging the decor, so that everyone fits.

    You're starting to zen out on the wedding and that's GOOD.

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  4. The low lighting will effectively hide whatever you don't like - weird orange curtains are suddenly a rich shade of russet in low light, and people tend not to notice ceilings or floors in low light, either.

    If you do want more light, have you considered the very cheap solution of a few medium-sized paper lanterns in colors that go with the papel picado, hanging battery-operated lantern lights ($5 each) and fishing line? I would offer to send you my old red, blue, natural-paper and purple lanterns and the five hanging battery lights from our wedding, but they're in America, I'm in Taiwan and my family is dealing with serious illness right now.

    FWIW, our rain plan was a standing-room-mostly ceremony room that, while not ugly, was cramped and uninspiring (I think they would have moved the high-def TV if we'd asked). We had 100 guests and it could seat 80, meaning 20 people standing, which I am assured on etiquettehell.com is the worst possible offense. :) The day we held our wedding was the day that Hurricane Earl was supposed to swoop up the east coast and smack straight into New York, leaving us with not just a *rainy* day, but a *hurricane* day. WOOOOO.

    We soldiered on and prepared for the worst. It poured on Friday. I was worried.

    Then Saturday dawned, a little windy with changing cloud patterns but otherwise sunny and bright. Earl turned east and headed out to sea.

    And I wish nothing but the same for you!

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  5. We have a super huge big stage in our venue which I hate. At first I was determined to find some "use" for it for the reception. But then I thought about all the money and the time and energy and I was like, eh, eff it. So we're probably just going to keep the chuppah up the whole time, and prop our ketubah up there too and they will woefully inadequate to fill the space, but whatever.

    When I worry about the aesthetics of the wedding, I remember that I have never really noticed the hanging lanterns or the artfully arranged place card settings or even the damn floral centerpieces (except to move them to the side of the table because they were blocking my view of the other guests.)

    The things I remember from weddings?

    The ceremonies (because I am a sap and always cry)
    And the community (because I love any chance I get to chat with far flung friends)
    Oh, and I guess the booze. And sometimes the food.

    But seriously? No one is going to be looking at the orange curtains during your ceremony. They'll be too busy trying not to cry as they watch the people they love commit themselves to each other.

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  6. Same here - I remember the people, the food, the booze, and if anything crazy happened (like one friend's wedding where our view out the window from the dinner table had a lovely montage of a guy outside peeing against a tree). I do generally remember ceremonies, but not in a sappy way because I'm not like that.

    I don't remember flowers, color schemes, tablecloths, curtains etc. but I'd remember something unique like papel picado.

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  7. You have the plan, now you can forget about it and just dream of the sunny day.

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  8. Our wedding is taking place in exactly 2 weeks... and during the rainiest month of the year in Argentina. We don't really have a Plan B as our reception and ceremony venues are both outdoors. We rented tents... huge expensive ones at that. But in a torrential down pour... it would still be miserable. And tons and tons of people encouraged us to switch to an indoor venue. And we wavered for a long time... and eventually decided to go with what we wanted from the beginning for our wedding which was... Everything outdoors. Because changing to a depressing indoor venue would be equally disappointing as a rainy wedding day spent hidden in the tents. (If not more... at least with the original plan... if it rains... I get to wear rain boots with my wedding dress!). I have no idea how it will turn out but right now the forecast is sunny and rain-free. We're keeping our fingers crossed! I wish you the best with the weather on your wedding day and worst comes to worst... you have a Plan B and an excuse to buy the cutest rain boots around!!

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  9. I feel you. Our backups are a tiny, dark church for the ceremony and a cramped, dark special events room for our reception. Neither make my heart happy. Both will be major letdowns. So I'm holding tight to the idea that our love will overwhelm the dark, tight spaces.

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  10. It sounds like you are in a good place. You realize that the worst case weather scenario would still be cozy and charming, in a different but still special way. So...now you can relax knowing that your Plan B is good and workable, and taht there is no need to worry. That's a great place to be! :)

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  11. I'm with Anna- you have the plan, so now you can let go of that worry. If it rains, you're prepared, and if it's sunny, you haven't wasted precious time & energy worrying about it (too much.)

    I'm so excited for you guys that your wedding is almost here Becca! :)

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  12. It sounds like you have a plan in place, and you're starting to reach that zen moment where you let go of the wants and take stock in all that you have. You will have a beautiful wedding, indoor or out, and I wish you all the best on your wedding day.

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  13. Last October, we went to a wedding that didn't have a rain contingency plan in place. Guess what? It was raining that day. They still got married outside -- the workers wiping off the chairs just before the guests sat down -- and we dined at tables outside. Fortunately, it never poured, but we guests still had fun, and the bride and groom looked like they didn't even know it wasn't sunny out that day. When I talked to bride later, she said she was so excited to get married that she didn't even notice the dampness.

    This is not to say that if it rains, you should just do it outside anyway! You have a good plan for that. But I'm hoping it's a small amount of comfort to know that you just might not care.

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  14. I don't have a plan! Our wedding is on a sailboat in CA in April and we don't have a rain plan. We thought we were completely safe with it being La Nina. Was that a joke? It isn't funny. I guess I should come up with a plan instead of denying that it isn't a possibility.

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  15. This was so hard for me to deal with - one of the few things I had my heart set on was getting married outside. Seriously, I cared about that more than the dress, food, flowers, etc. ALL of our activities hinged on being outside... I just couldn't visualize walking down the aisle in our boring, cramped rain bldg.

    Thankfully, we did manage to do the ceremony outside, despite the heat. Maybe at the very least, you can have the ceremony where you want it... But keep visualizing a sunny day!! It can definitely happen. (but in the end, I didn't even care that much that we had to shift stuff indoors - yes, it was echo-ey and utilitarian-looking and you couldn't hear our carefully-selected soundtrack. But it was a lot better than roasting in the sun... and people eventually made it outside, once it cooled down a bit).

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