Weddings and Weather

I am writing this after another busy week-end of catering for weddings and thought it would be a good idea to talk through some of the pros and cons of the weather as it affects each and every couple that get married. As I write this it’s been one of the hottest week-ends of the year so far and that in itself has thrown up a few problems. The weather is something that nobody can control but plays a massive part in someone’s wedding day.

In an ideal world the weather would be warm and sunny with a bit of breeze, no need for coats, perfect for photos and everyone would be happy and cheerful. In reality that doesn’t happen. It’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too windy, very rarely perfect.

In a way winter weddings are best as no-one has any expectations. If it’s dry it’s a bonus, whereas in summer it’s difficult not to feel hard done by if the weather doesn’t conform. I’m writing this in early summer 2012. The year started with a glorious March, not just sunny but warm too. We had a few nice if cold week-ends in April but other than that it’s been bloody freezing. As we work mainly in marquees we’ve cranked up the heat but it’s the guests you’ve got to feel sorry for. All decked out in their summer clothes, expected to brave the elements for photos and then spending the rest of the day trying to warm up again! Then overnight we have a heat wave and everyone is moaning it’s too hot.

All the blokes with suits, waistcoats and cravats are absolutely dripping in sweat. A belligerent bride’s mum who won’t allow the men to take off their jackets as it spoils the look and babies screaming as they can’t cool down. One agitated man stormed up to me and demanded that I did something about the heat because everyone was too hot and it was spoiling the day. Well I think I’m pretty good at controlling most things but the sun is a step too far, bearing in mind that we were in someone’s garden at the time. The suggestion that perhaps he went inside where it was cooler was met with a look of pure disdain.

There are basic problems like keeping the white wine and champagne cold enough but the one problem we have in the winter keeping the red wine warm enough turns on its head and we have to try and keep it in the shade otherwise it ends up like mulled wine.

Check your menu choices. It may well be too late to change now but perhaps your caterer or venue could make some minimal changes to take into account the weather. For example on Saturday my bride changed from hot shrimps to cold shrimps, she changed her main course from roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes to roast sirloin of beef with a light jus, buttered jersey royals and summer vegetables and the assiette she had chosen she substituted the hot sticky toffee pudding for tangy lemon tart. It didn’t affect the price or the service, it just suited the day more. A perfect menu for a summers day.

If the budget allows arrange for some canapés to be served or even some dainty finger sandwiches. Hot weather, no food and lots of alcohol don’t go together. If there is no flexibility with the menu ask for the meal to be served a little slower than normal. Make sure the staff know that they have to keep the water jugs topped up as well as the wine.

Ask your hotel or venue if they can provide any fans. If not a quick trip to Ikea may be needed, especially if your venue has only got tiny windows. If you are having your reception in a marquee ask the wedding organiser or caterer to take all the sides down to allow a breeze through the marquee. One word of advice for both marquee and hotel weddings is to be careful with the table arrangements. Long tall arrangements can easily blow over even in the slightest breeze.

If the wedding is at home make sure there are plenty of garden umbrellas available so guests can find some shade. Make sure you serve soft drinks as well as alcohol and make sure water is available. If you aren’t in a hotel make sure you have plenty of refrigeration available or at least copious amounts of ice. There is nothing worse than serving warm white wine, beer or champagne and unless facilities are in place beforehand you won’t be able to cool it quick enough or for long enough.

Be relaxed about the men taking off their jackets once the formal photographs have been taken. There is nothing worse than sweltering through a three course meal with waistcoat, jacket and tie if it’s not necessary.

The other problem is midgies and flies. Midgies tend to be worse in the evening around dusk and its a good idea to have citronella candles which need to be lit just before dusk.

My final word of advice is important and especially important if the wedding is in say late October or it turns very hot after a sustained cold spell. Sun cream! Especially if you and your bridesmaids are wearing strapless dresses, or if dad, the groom or best man is bald or shaven headed and if there are any little ones in the bridal party. Usually if the wedding is in summer it’s something that happens automatically but if there is a very hot spell early in the year or late October when it’s unexpected them nobody ever thinks about it and what starts as a fantastic experience in the garden turns to painful red sunburn as the afternoon progresses. I’m an absolute sun worshiper but I’ve seen too many cases of sunburn over the years not to mention it.