Rain At An Indian Wedding Venue: A Guide to Prepare Ahead

I went to an Indian wedding a couple of years ago in Newport Beach, California in mid July. At that time of year, people imagine a Southern California that’s in full swing of summer with gorgeous beaches and sun-kissed tourists. But that day it rained…actually it poured.  Who would have thought?!? So the couple wasn’t prepared for it. Understandably, it never occurred to him that it might rain on their wedding day, so they didn’t think about a backup ceremony space and all the things they’d need. The venue and planning team kicked into gear and moved the ceremony indoors. The decor team made a new mandap inside and the guest chairs were arranged in the ballroom.

Luckily the venue didn’t have an issue with an indoor ceremony flame! Their wedding moved forward but the whole schedule got thrown off by two hours so they didn’t serve dinner until 10pm. Not only was that really late for their guests, but most wedding venues have policies about, timing because they have to pay labor costs to the service staff. At most venues the latest dinner can be served is 9pm, to avoid overtime charges.

Afterwards the couple ended up paying a lot more in overtime fees and for their consumption bar because the cocktail hour which was supposed to be an hour became 2.5 hours.

This is a guide to prepare for wedding day rain ahead of time, so that if it happens, you and your team already have a plan. When I’m talking about outdoor Indian weddings, I’m referring to the ceremony as most Indian wedding receptions take place indoors.

1. Ensure the venue has a backup space available in case it rains. FYI, most venues do but it’s important that you see it to ensure it suits your needs.

2. Ensure the backup space is in your venue contract.  

3. Some venues may charge a fee to hold a backup space for you. 

4. If your ceremony is going to have an open fire, make sure you’re allowed to have it in the indoor, backup space. You can also refer to the ShaadiShop website for this info. 


5. Talk to your decor team about what materials and information they’d need, to be ready, in case the ceremony has to be moved indoors. A venue with a gazebo or structure already at the property means your decor team was planning to decorate that existing structure vs. making a mandap or altar indoors.

6. If you are not renting chiavari chairs for the ceremony and using the chairs provided by the venue, most wedding venues give you those nice, white garden chairs for outdoor ceremonies. But those chairs are not used indoors. Instead they setup their standard banquet chairs for indoor events. If you rent chiavari chairs for the ceremony, those can be moved indoors.

7. You might be wondering about tenting instead of moving everything indoors. Tenting is definitely an option and here’s a list of things to consider:

a. tenting can be pricey (anywhere from $3-$10k). Scroll down to read a couple stories about tenting at Indian weddings.
b. depending on the material of the tent and tent height,the companies may or may not allow an open ceremony flame.
c. will the sound of the rain hitting the tent cause issues in the audio of your video?
d. setting up a tent takes several hours. It’s not something you can make happen on the spot. Like the story of the Indian wedding at the beginning of this article, they didn’t expect rain and had no choice but to move indoors. Tents are a possibility when you have at least 3-5 days notice.

8. If it rains, your guests are going to have umbrellas with them. The last thing you want is a photo with an umbrella sticking into your aisle way. Arrange a bin for guests to tag and place their umbrellas.


{Tenting Anecdotes from Real Indian Weddings}

This is an excerpt from a featured wedding on ShaadiShop. This couple decided a few days before the wedding that they’d need a tent.

“With rain in the forecast, a few days before our wedding we decided to put up a clear tent with the help of our planner.
Dealing with putting a tent up, last minute, was a little stressful as Kevin and I are planners. Doing things last minute isn’t our style. 
However it’s one of those things you don’t know you’ll need. And if you don’t need it you don’t want to incur the cost, as it can be pricey.

A few days before the wedding we decided to move forward with the tent. At that point there was limited time and limited availability of tents, so we had to choose one and go with it. We selected a transparent tent and worked with our vendors to make sure everything went smoothly. And we got lucky that it didn’t rain on our wedding day but it did rain the day before. The vendor had put the tent up the night before so the grass was protected. In the end tenting was worth it. The temperature really drops at night; and if we hadn’t put the tent up, I think guests would’ve left right after dinner.”

This is a story, not about a tent exactly, but the canopy that you often see at wedding ceremonies to shade guests from the sun. Shveta Dhillon the principal planner at A Panache Affair, shared this story with us:

We had a beautiful outdoor Sikh Ceremony at an inland outdoor venue in the midst of August. If you’re from Los Angeles or have been there in August, you know it can get extremely hot and this wedding was no exception. This was an outdoor Sikh ceremony where it is an absolute must to have the appropriate floor coverings and since it was SO hot, proper shading for the guests. So finding the best decorator or rental company is crucial!

After much debate and discussion with our clients they decided to go with a vendor that doesn’t have a lot of experience but had the equipment to pull it off. With such a large setup, you need at least 12 hours of setup time in order to properly setup a tent and any décor such as draping, etc. Since the vendor was inexperienced with such a large tent setup, and what’s needed to setup the tent, they waited until the day of the wedding. It seemed impossible to get the entire ceremony setup done in time, and it was! An hour before the ceremony was supposed to start they had laid the foundational structure for the canopy and as they pulled up the fabric it collapsed due to the heaviness of the fabric and weakness of the structure!

There was no way to recover at that point, and no other option but to move the ceremony indoors and push the baraat and ceremony back an hour. Luckily they were at a wonderful venue and their staff and the other vendors all pitched in to expedite the new setup.  A setup that normally takes 5 hours was completed in 1 hour. 

Keep-in-mind this mishap didn’t just throw off the ceremony timing but they’ve paid for allotted times with ALL of their vendors who graciously donated extra time and resources, understanding the situation. It required extra photography time, extra lighting, a bigger dance floor,

 It’s no secret that we all want to save money but the worst place to cut costs is on big ticket items such as comfort for yourself and your guests during any event. Trust your planner, and know they have your best interest at heart!”

{Take Aways}

  • Even though it rarely rains in Southern California, especially during the summer, it’s a good idea to have some backup plans in mind, just to be on the safe side.
  • There’s more involved in your backup plan than simply moving everything indoors. This guide walks you through everything you need to know.
  • Venues understand that no one controls the weather and that’s why they have a backup space for weddings. Their policies (fees, what is/not allowed) around the backup space vary.
  • I shared these real life stories with you so that you can learn from other people’s experiences as my team and I seek every couple to have a brilliant wedding day with as few hiccups as possible!

Did this article help you? Let me know in the comments. And follow ShaadiShop on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram so you can see our latest guides and tips.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! 🙂

Samta Varia
Founder & CEO
ShaadiShop: Indian Wedding Venues


Cover image: Lin & Jirsa