Prev Next

Madeline: Rain or Shine

There’s surely no better symbol for the uncontrollable than the weather. Try as we might—and the Chinese government is trying—we generally can’t do anything about it. This is frustrating when you’re planning a wedding which takes place partly out of doors. All of this is to say that it rained on (one of) my wedding day(s). Then it stopped. And then, there was a rainbow.

Alanis, a rainy wedding day is not ironic. It’s mildly disappointing, at most, to practical ladies like myself. Something we’ve told ourselves we’ll deal with, because it’s not symbolic, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just weather.

A rainbow, on the other hand, is almost embarrassingly meaningful. At an event planned to emphasize down-to-earth celebrations, rather than grandiose declarations, the sky hadn’t read the memo. It was as though we’d been ambushed by the fairy godmother of bridal magazines. It was the definition of irony.

Everyone loved it, of course, including ourselves. We posed and smooched by it, surrounded by the Dad paparazzi and various tourists out for a stroll in the Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was a stunning evening. And really, whether it stands for peace or pride, what’s not to love about a rainbow?

I’ve written before about learning not to apologize for getting married and how we made it happen. That is hard for me, and I think embracing the rainbow was hard for the same reason. My parents talk about the dreadful winds that cursed their nuptials and I’ve never seen their photos. Yet they’ve been married for decades. Might it not be because they didn’t take themselves too seriously? That a casual, windblown start to matrimony was the secret to success, rather than a perfect day that would hold them to that impossible standard for the rest of their lives?

The rainbow felt too perfect; too happy-ever-after. So here’s another absurd question to pose on a wedding blog: What happens when things go better than you planned? What happens when you are bracing for normal, and are vaulted instead into a moment of transcendence?

You can try and stay cynical—it’s just an optical phenomenon after all. Or you can surrender. Just for a moment, you can enjoy the sensation of feeling that you, your husband, and your new marriage, are special. Blessed.

Photo credit: Joseph Mason Studios

More in Recent Posts Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Class of 1980

    Would you feel reluctant to accept a rainbow as an encouraging message if it had happened on some other significant day?

    After my grandmother died in 2005 in Florida, a hurricane was coming in from the west coast. I was in a hurry to outrun it on my way home, but I had to stop somewhere for the night in Georgia due to the driving rain and perilous traffic. The next day was calmer and I drove through Atlanta and north into the mountains.

    After I made the turn eastward, going along the mountains near the state line on the final stretch toward home, a rainbow appeared right in front of my car. It arched over the road and looked like I could drive right through it. I was the only one driving there and the rainbow stayed in front of my car for miles. Pure magic.

    Try to tell me it wasn’t a message from grandma. ;)


    • Madeline

      That’s a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing!

  • ” And really, whether it stands for peace or pride, what’s not to love about a rainbow?”

    I love this line. Peace and pride (well equality) are two of The Most Important Issues to me and I’d never realized they have rainbows in common.

    Yay for rainbows!

  • KB

    You can find a message in anything – even rain! After all, “a wet knot is harder to untie.” What’s nice, though, is that, rain or rainbows, you have something memorable to share about your day for years to come.

  • In most African countries, rain is a blessing. It’s very auspicious, and especially so in a wedding!

    And speaking of rainbows, we had our wedding in a grass-roofed yoga hut on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. As our ceremony began in the early evening, the tide was fully in and crashing up against the cliff. The waves and the early evening sun were throwing misty plumes of sea spray and…. RAINBOWS. It was Un-F-ing-Believable.

    You got both the benediction of a rainstorm, and the blissful magic of a rainbow. Awesome!

  • Teresa

    When things go better than you planned, when you are blessed with a beautiful day (as I was as well, after I spent weeks obsessing over the weather forcast), you just feel thankful. It is not an impossibly standard to hold yourself to, it is the universe throwing you a bone. A month and a half after our breezy, warm and sunny day (in late August,when it should have been sweltering and possibly thunderstormy), I just feel grateful that the weather was so beautiful that it allowed for our outdoor ceremony and for our friends and family to spend most of the afternoon sitting out on the giant deck overlooking the Long Island Sound, cocktail in hand. My husband and I spent all day high-fiving each other over our good luck. Embrace the rainbow!

  • Jennie

    “What happens when things go better than you planned? What happens when you are bracing for normal, and are vaulted instead into a moment of transcendence?

    You can try and stay cynical—it’s just an optical phenomenon after all. Or you can surrender. Just for a moment, you can enjoy the sensation of feeling that you, your husband, and your new marriage, are special. Blessed.”


    I prepared myself for months to have something go wrong or for the family drama from this year to seep into our wedding. And then. Nothing. The weather was beautiful. The important people showed up. We had time to catch up with friends and feel leisurely. We got married.

    Our whole weekend was wonderful and perfect and went so much better than planned. I kept waiting for ‘THE BAD THING’ to happen and it didn’t. And then I walked around with the biggest grin on my face and humility in my heart for the wonderful gift of a drama free day after a year that was anything but low key & drama free. I do feel blessed.

  • Sara

    I’m just in the beginning stages of planning my wedding, and as much as I think an outdoor wedding would be beautiful, I’ve been very hesitant to pick an outdoor venue as I’m paranoid about it raining. WIC has convinced me that since you never see pictures of rainy outdoor weddings, that all rainy, outdoor weddings are DOOMED. And since I’m my own worst enemy, I start making up images in my head: The bride’s makeup is runny and her hair has gone all frizzy in the humidity, the groom is grumpy because his shoes are squishy, and they call off the whole thing because rain is just the worst ever.

    Thank you for giving me a bit more confidence that while I might think rain is the worst ever, it doesn’t have to make your day the worst ever. Especially not such a special one!

    • Michelle

      Sara – I’m sharing this link of my very, very rainy wedding. Take from it what you will but know that they do exist and are not at all doomed.

      • Catherine B

        Oops, the link didn’t work. It sounds like a fabulous day though!

      • Sara

        Thank you for sharing your photos, Michelle! If you hadn’t told me it was raining, I would have hardly even known from the photos. Thank you so much. :) Maybe we’ll go with that gorgeous, old estate for our venue after all!

    • Class of 1980

      A ceremony in a tent while it’s raining? Totally cozy and romantic.

      Great photos.

  • Michelle

    I consider myself pretty darn practical and I can say with certainty that the rainy weather on my wedding day did not bother me. It wasn’t something I obsessed about leading up to the day even though part of our event was to be outside. It seemed to be on everyone else’s mind; I could feel them asking me with their eyes “are you ok?? is the rain bothering you??” Because we only get one chance at our wedding day we said f* it, let’s do our post-ceremony candids in the pouring rain! Best decision ever – the detail of the rain drops, pretty light and sheer FUN we had in those photos couldn’t be beat.

    I have several friends planning weddings and in almost every case, a key point of stress is the unpredictability of the weather. Some know that I had a rainy wedding, some do not, and I find it interesting to see their reaction when I tell them about the day and its awesomeness because of the rain (NOT in spite of it!). Inevitably, the conversation turns to a version of “oh, I know it will be great no matter what…” but I know inside they’re still pining for a perfectly sunny day. They’ll see, eventually…or maybe they won’t.

    Either way, I’m reclaiming rainy-day weddings as decidedly not disappointing (rainbow or not – but that is a bonus)!

    • Madeline

      Agreed! Plus, let’s not forget the rainy-day accessory: Umbrellas!

  • I don’t know about the hidden message, but there’s something fine about wedding photos complete with cute umbrellas! They make great props!

Shhh... Secrets Inside

A secret post emailed to you every week!

… plus our 20 best wedding planning guides

No, thanks.