how to prep for a rainy wedding day in chicago

Rain is almost always a possibility in Chicago. And, no matter how many people tell you it’s good luck, couples never want to see rain in the forecast. With nearly 200 weddings under my belt, I’ve learned a few things that will help us make the most out of a rainy wedding day. 

Looking at the rain in the forecast for your wedding can feel like seeing the worst uninvited guest. But it’s important to know that we’ll still be able to make pictures and, more importantly, you’ll still be getting married! In fact, some of the most epic wedding days I’ve photographed have come with a little (or even a lot of) rain.

My first photo editor was fond of saying “Bad weather makes good pictures.” And with a little preparation and a few tricks it’s absolutely true! Here’s a few tips that can make a big difference!

Have a ceremony back-up plan

In Chicago, most outdoor wedding venues have a good indoor backup space. Because of setup time, however, they often need to make “the call” a few hours before ceremony time. We suggest delaying as long as possible if you have your heart set on on an outdoor ceremony.

Many musicians (especially those with stringed instruments) won’t play outdoors if they can’t be in a covered area. Check with your vendors and venue to make sure you know what the procedure will be if rain becomes an issue.

Be flexible

It’s rare that it will rain all day, non-stop. There’s almost always gaps in the rain where we can venture outside for long enough to make a few portraits. We’ll be checking the Dark Sky App constantly to find rain-free windows that we can take advantage of. Sometimes that means we’ll push to do a first-look 30 minutes early, or delay the start of the ceremony until the clouds pass. We’ll work with your planner and whatever your decide, but being a little bit flexible on the timeline can payoff big.

Load up on umbrellas

Your guests will probably have their own umbrellas, and some venues may have loaners for outdoor ceremonies. But for the wedding party and especially for the couple, we highly recommend clear umbrellas. These ones from Amazon have worked well. Target usually has them as well. The clear panels light shine through so you won’t have shadows or color casts on your faces.

Find open, but covered areas for portraits

There are many open air, covered areas around the city that work well when we need portrait locations. Places like courtyards with covered walkways, buildings with large overhangs – pretty much anything that offers shelter from the elements while still allowing natural light. I’ve included a list of my favorites below, but know that on rainy Saturdays they’ll be busy with other weddings as well.

Head indoors

When all else fails, there’s always the option to choose an indoor location for portraits. It’s important to remember that not all places that seem ‘public’ are fair game for photography – especially with a full wedding party. Many places around Chicago require special permits. If you’re getting ready at a hotel or you have a room block there, we can usually get permission on the day-of. We always recommend calling ahead of time. See the list below for some of my favorite indoor options and permit requirements.

Don’t let it define the day

No wedding day goes 100% according to plan. There’s always a few hiccups and usually they’re the things you’ll look back on and smile about. So you don’t have to let a little rain ruin your wedding. Take it in stride, enjoy the moments and don’t dwell on the weather. At the end of the day you’ll still be married and we’ll make some great pictures together!