Right now (May 20, 2014) it's snowing in Mammoth Lakes. Last week it dumped in Colorado. I'm not talking a couple of inches in a fluke spring storm, I'm talking a foot and a half of snow in the middle of May. In fact, big mountain snow storms in May are not uncommon. We mountain people have a name for it: “May-uary.” Weather can be crazy year round in the mountains. Nasty heat waves and torrential afternoon rain, and random snowstorms are also not uncommon in the mountains.
Top 3 weather issues in the mountains
It can snow year round. Seriously. I remember a Fourth of July snow storm in Mammoth Lakes. I spent the day playing chess with a friend by the fire at Tamarack Lodge, sipping port and devouring chocolate cake.
If it snows unexpectedly during your wedding, here's what to do:
Arrange for transportation: Snow in the mountains can be both heavy and tricky for guests to drive in. If your destination mountain wedding is within driving distance of your city, make sure you phone hotels and arrange for shuttles to take your guests to your ceremony and reception. The added benefit to this is you won't have to worry about guests over doing it at the reception and then getting behind the wheel.
Set up a phone tree: You want you guests to be informed of the complementary shuttle and any other important information, but you don;t want to have to call each guest yourself. Instead set up a phone tree. Have your bridesmaids phone 3-5 people, and give those people the phone numbers of another person and you'll have the work out in no time!
Have a backup plan: Treat snow like rain and make sure you work out a plan B with your planner well in advance. If you're planning an outdoor ceremony and reception, make sure your venue can move the fete inside in case of snow. If you'll be under a tent, rent heat lamps. Even if it doesn't snow, mountain evenings can get chilly anytime of year and heat lamps help stave off a chill.
If you're having an outdoor ceremony and you get a little afternoon sprinkle, don't worry about it, especially if your ceremony is short. I've seen plenty of mountain wedding ceremonies with a touch of rain and nobody minded.
If you're really concerned, consider an assortment of guest umbrellas for guests to use if they so choose.
If you're dealing with a torrential downpour, revert to that Plan B that you and your planner sorted out. You may have to move your ceremony to your dance floor under your tent or inside your reception venue.
If you're worried about your dress in the rain, get dressed at your ceremony site rather than your hotel to mitigate exposure to the elements. Also consider rainy day footwear like wallabies or cowboy boots.
Finally, embrace your good fortune. Colorful umbrellas and fun wallabies make for whimsical bridal portraits. Also photographers swear that the light on a rainy afternoon is perfect for magical-looking wedding pictures!
Heat waves are most common in the east, especially in New England where 80-90% humidity can be stifling. The trick is to know that guests are pretty forgiving and a suffering a sticky heat wave during a short ceremony. However, keeping your guests' comfort in mind can also go a long way to extending their patience with a wonky weather situation.
Provide shade if you can. This can be in the form of a tent, pretty (and inexpensive) paper umbrellas, or a ceremony site under a canopy of trees.
Provide water and thirst quenching refreshments. Skip the “signature cocktail for now, and offer bottled water or refreshing flavored water instead. I particularly love Mexican “waters.” These are like a thin smoothie. Blend fruit and strain into a pitcher of water. You can add sugar or sweetener to taste. Herb and fruit infused waters are also nice. Add fresh watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber or basil to a pitcher of ice water for a light refreshing taste.
Offer fans. Inexpensive paper fans are a staple in southern weddings, but you can go deluxe with handheld battery-operated fans that can also serve as a favor.