How to Embrace “Bad” Weather On Your Elopement Day

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One of my favorite things about eloping in the PNW is that no matter the weather, you win. I know – you might be thinking, “But Marla, what if it downpours during our ceremony?! How is that a win?” Besides the age-old superstition of rain being lucky on your wedding day, I’m a firm believer that your elopement day is what you make it, no matter the conditions – which is why I put together this whole-ass guide to how to embrace “bad” weather on your elopement day. Bright blue skies? Congrats, you get to bask in the best of the best! Misty, moody, and rainy? Woohoo, you get the true PNW experience!

In this guide, I’m giving you all my best advice for embracing all kinds of weather on your elopement day, whether you’re eloping in the unpredictable mountains of the PNW or the dry desert of Utah. I’ve got 8 steps for you to follow to make sure your day is a dream come true no matter what Mother Earth brings, as well as specific tips for staying safe + making the best of different weather conditions. Rain or shine, you deserve the most magical day – and I hope this guide helps you make that happen!

How to Embrace All Kinds of Weather On Your Elopement Day

1. Get in the right mindset beforehand 

If you’re planning your entire elopement around the assumption that it’ll be sunny & clear as can be, you’re already getting started on the wrong foot! It’s all about getting in the right mindset beforehand so that there’s no way you could be shocked, surprised, or thrown off if the weather doesn’t cooperate how you want it to. It’s going to be way better for you to plan for the possibility of rain 6 months in advance of your elopement and be pleasantly surprised by sunshine when the day arrives, rather than the other way around.

From the get go, you should be planning an adventure elopement that can adapt to any circumstance, whether that be related to the weather or other aspects of your day such as travel plans, guests, or activities. We all learned a thing or two back in 2020 about changing plans, didn’t we?😅If you’re eloping somewhere like the PNW that’s prone to unexpected rain and constantly overcast skies, plan activities around the possibility of rain. Plan your ceremony location around what would + wouldn’t work if you get rained on, maybe finding an indoor location nearby as a backup or choosing a location beneath a thick canopy of trees to try and minimize rain impact.

Sometimes the rocky sea stacks are on full display, and sometimes they’re hiding in the fog. Sometimes the mountain is out, and sometimes she’s a little shy. Weather is never guaranteed, no matter what season you choose to tie the knot, so be sure to have a different measurement for success.

My suggestion? Frame your day like this: if you get married, it’s a win. Seriously, remember that this day is about so much more than the view. Be present in the moment and I promise, it’ll be one of your all-time favorite days.

2. Let go of control + be ready to adapt

Trust me, I know how it feels to need to be in control and to have a hand in everything that happens – but unfortunately, that’s just not how life goes! And your elopement day likely won’t be any different. You can plan every teeny-tiny detail, create 3 different timelines, or even hire a planner to do it all for you, but at the end of the day, you usually just gotta throw your hands up and release that control, my friend. At least something is bound to happen that is outside of your control, be it a long line of traffic on the highway or an unexpected road closure – so just like I mentioned above, you need to expect it in order to embrace it. 

Adventure elopements aren’t just about the epic views and the incredible hikes: the word “adventure” is in there for a reason. You need to be ready to adapt at any moment and truly embrace the adventure as it unfolds – because isn’t that why you planned an adventure elopement in the first place? To release yourselves from outside pressure, to give up tradition for the sake of a more authentic experience? Part of that is also releasing your control at a certain point and realizing that you can’t change everything – and realizing that before your elopement will be WAY better than realizing it when you have to change your ceremony location at the very last minute due to circumstances out of your control.

3. Trust your photographer + other vendors

If you’re feeling anxious about all the possibilities that could impact your elopement day, lean on your photographer and other vendors to support you! It’s incredibly important that you trust your vendors in the first place, but that trust especially comes into play when external circumstances throw all your plans to the wind. Trust that I know it’s disappointing to miss out on a view, or to be warmer/colder/wetter than you hoped for. I know how much pressure there is to make this day perfect, and I know that it’s scary to think you might not get the photos you wanted. But you hired a professional for a reason– the weather doesn’t faze me! I work rain or shine, baby. I’m going to make sure you look damn good no matter what the skies decides to throw at us. 

4. Consider potential unsafe conditions

While I will be 100% ready to work rain or shine, sometimes there are more extreme conditions that we need to prepare for. Doing research on your elopement location beforehand can help you get an idea of what (if any) extreme weather conditions could come into play during the time of year you’re eloping. For example: if you’re eloping in the North Cascades in August, it’s important to keep in mind the possibility of wildfires that could result in unsafe air quality or road closures due to fire danger.

If conditions are unsafe (such as intense storms, flood or fire warnings, unsafe air quality, avalanche risk, etc.), that’s when we’ll readjust as needed. Otherwise, the show goes on!

5. Pack + prepare for travel appropriately

I like to say that there’s no such thing as bad weather – only bad gear! It’s essential that you pack appropriately for your elopement so that you can be totally comfortable no matter what the conditions. Don’t only pack for your ideal weather; pack also for the worst weather that you could run into. If you’re eloping in the summer and are hoping for sunny skies, you should pack for the heat and pack a few extra layers, pairs of socks, and a jacket or two in case of rain or chilly morning/evening temps. 

It’s just as important to plan for safe travel as it is to pack appropriately! If you’re traveling to your elopement location from out of state and are renting a car, I recommend renting one with 4WD or at least a high clearance, especially if you’re planning to drive off the beaten path. Even if you’re not planning to do so, you never know when you might need to re-route due to traffic/weather/closures and take an unpaved back road, instead! Be extra intentional about choosing a sufficient car if you’re eloping in the winter, or at any location where there could be snow (have chains ready, snow tires, etc.).

6. Have backup locations ready

I’ve mentioned this multiple times already, but it is so important to have backup locations on hand in case any of your original locations don’t work out due to unforeseen weather, road/trail closures, etc. I recommend having a few different backup locations:

  • One near your original location, in case just one trail is randomly closed
  • One near your original location, but at a different elevation – e.g. if your original hike took you to a high-elevation spot, have a backup option at a lower spot in case of snow, etc.
  • One far away from your original location (within driving distance), in case your entire original area is blocked off due to wildfires, avalanche or flood warnings, etc.

Bonus Tip: Make sure you have offline maps downloaded for not just your first choice of location, but ALL of your backup locations as well!

7. Take breaks as needed

While I’m all about embracing the weather no matter what, know that we will totally take breaks as needed during your elopement to make sure you’re comfortable. I won’t make you stay in the pouring rain if you’re freezing, or in the heat if you really need a drink of water. We can take as many breaks as needed to warm up, dry off, etc. because your comfort & safety are top priority!

8. Romanticize the hell out of it

Lastly, just romanticize the hell out of your elopement no matter the weather. Is it pouring rain? Pretend you’re Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams having that romantic AF moment in The Notebook. “Bad” weather makes for such unique photos and an even better story to tell your loved ones, your future children, etc. – it adds moodiness, authenticity, and an extra layer of fun since everything becomes a bit more chaotic. Embrace the chaos and pretend you’re the stars in your own damn rom-com!

What to Do With “Bad” Weather On Your Elopement Day

Now that I’ve hammered my passionate thoughts about “bad” weather into you for quite a few paragraphs, let’s go through some actual, practical tips & advice about what to do if you experience certain kinds of weather on your elopement day.

What to do if it rains on your elopement day

If it rains on your elopement day, first of all – why not consider it good luck, like the old superstition says?

I recommend bringing clear umbrellas instead of colored or patterned ones so that we can keep as much light as possible on your faces for the photos! I don’t want you to get lost in the shadows hiding under your umbrellas. They’ll also look much cleaner (and actually pretty cute, in my opinion) in photos, and won’t clash with your outfits. Definitely bring your favorite trusty rain jacket (I personally love Anorak jackets!) along, and wear waterproof hiking boots made of materials such as full-grain leather, nubuck leather, or Gore-Tex. You can even use waterproofing spray like this as a last resort, if you’re wearing shoes that weren’t made with weather protection in mind.

What to do if it’s foggy/smoky on your elopement day

If you arrive to your elopement location and find that it’s super foggy, there’s no gear you necessarily need – just a good attitude about missing out on views! I know it might be disappointing at first, but hey, it makes for a great reason to come back again. Maybe you can visit again for your anniversary, for a vow renewal later on, or even just for an adventure session in your elopement attire. Pictures can be so lovely without a mountain in the background or even with NOTHING in the background – it’s all about your love, and your attitude. Plus, blank, white foggy skies can look pretty dreamy!

Now if it’s smoky out due to wildfires, we’ll want to pay attention to the air quality. If it’s unsafe to be out for long periods of time, we’ll adjust plans accordingly since your safety and comfort are my top priorities. If the air is smoky but not unhealthy to breathe in, and we can still do the hike we planned or visit the location you wanted for your ceremony, then we’ll just deal with it like fog. It may block some views, but it sure makes for a unique atmosphere and can look really beautiful!

If you need some reassurance that fog can actually look super beautiful + magical on your elopement day, check out Maggie & Dan’s Foggy Oregon Coast Elopement. It was their first ever visit to Cannon Beach so they were hoping for better ocean views, but even with the thick fog obscuring most of the landscape, I couldn’t have imagined a better day for these two.

What to do if it snows on your elopement day

If it snows on your elopement day, or you’re in an environment where there’s already snow on the ground, congrats – you’re going to have an absolutely magical landscape to explore! There’s nothing like a winter wonderland when you’re in your elopement attire; something about the quiet, snow-blanketed setting just creates the most peaceful atmosphere. 

When it comes to being comfortable in snow, it’s all about layers!! If you’re wearing a suit, pick a thick suit with warm materials, and that allows you to wear multiple layers. If you’re wearing a dress, you may want to pick a long-sleeved gown, wear tights underneath, and/or bring a stylish shawl to throw over your shoulders. Definitely wear wool socks to keep your toes warm and choose waterproof boots that’ll keep your feet dry! On top of your elopement outfits, be sure to wear a warm-ass coat and to stick some hand warmers in the pockets coat, or inside of your gloves. We can take breaks to warm up in the car as often as needed!

For more advice on planning a winter elopement, head over to my guide on How to Plan a Winter Elopement in Washington, where I go through my best tips for dealing with snow as well as give you a full winter elopement packing list.

What to do if it’s hot on your elopement day

Heat isn’t necessarily an “extreme” weather condition, but it can quickly get unsafe if you’re not prepared well. Whether it’s 80 degrees and humid or 95 degrees and dry, the most important thing of all is WATER. So much water. Bring refillable water bottles with you (bonus points for insulated bottles that can keep ice cold), and check for water fountains at or near your ceremony location to make sure you’ll have a spot to refill. It’s also crucial to wear sunscreen, and if you’re getting your makeup done, you can ask your makeup artist to use foundation or even concealer with SPF! Or, just put on sunscreen underneath your makeup with an SPF primer. I also recommend bringing quick-dry towels to wipe off any sweat throughout the day, as well as a few cooling towels to drape over your neck.

All in all, the MOST important things when it comes to embracing “bad” weather on your elopement day are trust and flexibility. You can’t control the weather, no matter how much planning you do. Release the expectation of perfection. Reset what it would mean to have a successful day. Did you get married? Congrats, then it was the best day ever! 

If you found this guide super helpful and want to hear more of my best elopement tips, check out the blog or reach out to me directly so I can help you start planning your dream day. Rain or shine, let’s make some magic, baby!


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