Preparing for adverse weather
Words by Rebecca Mitchell
While hosting a Teton wedding guarantees a beautiful backdrop, it also promises unpredictable weather. We can have snowstorms in July, sun-drenched days in May, windy weather in August, and mild temperatures in mid-November. Even the snowfall can be unpredictable, as last October brought cold temperatures and knee-deep snow on the peaks. As you select your venue and set your date, consider ways to keep your guests comfortable—no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.
When the sun is high in the sky and the days are long, the valleys on either side of the Tetons get their share of warm summer days. To provide some shade for your guests, consider using parasols or fancy umbrellas. However, it’s best to strategically install the parasols throughout your ceremony location at a height that avoids any issues with blocking the ceremony view. If parasols don’t fit your decor or theme, consider providing individual fans. Guests can get a little air movement or use them to block the sun. Alexs and Tom (“The Call of the Mountains,” page 52), created fans out of their wedding programs for their outdoor ceremony.
Following your ceremony, offer your guests chilled towels and a refreshing beverage—like a huckleberry lemonade or a signature cocktail on ice—to quench their thirst. Be sure to keep the water flowing, too; sugary or alcoholic beverages can be more dehydrating than hydrating.
Don’t forget that warm weather attracts bugs, and if you’re near water, it may attract bothersome bugs like mosquitoes. Consider hiring a professional to spray for mosquitoes prior to your celebration or provide bug spray for your guests.
Cool and cold weather are inherent to mountain living. In the summer months, evenings cool down and often require a jacket for comfort. Winter months bring cold temperatures—frequently single digits—and tons of snow. To keep your guests warm when temperatures turn cool or cold, provide a basket of blankets, scarves, hats, and mittens. Offer individual hand warmers for extra-cozy hands!
Invest in a nice tent made of thick, sturdy fabric. Not all tents are created equal. Make sure your tent has adequate sides, which you’ll want to close early to trap in the heat. Check with your rental company to make sure you can use candles and heaters inside your tent.
Fire up some propane heaters to take away the evening’s cool edge. Rental companies stock varying sizes and models depending on your space and heating needs. If you have a fire pit, lighting a bonfire is always a crowd-pleaser. Guests can stay toasty in front of the fire while sipping beverages like hot cocoa, apple cider, or even a hot toddy.
No Matter The Temperature …
At high altitude, the sun’s effects, whether good or bad, are magnified. According to Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, MD, FAAD, (dermblog.com), at 6,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, you are exposed to 25 percent more ultraviolet radiation than at sea level. Add snow reflection to this equation and you have 80-90 percent of UV light reflecting at you (compared to 3 percent reflection on grassy areas). To offset the sun’s intensity, offer your guests plenty of water. Staying hydrated in the Tetons’ dry climate is critical to staving off many ailments—from dry, cracked skin to headaches or altitude sickness.
While your guests may love the extra vitamin D, don’t forget to provide a variety of sunscreen products for body, face, and lips. It can take less than twenty minutes for skin to redden in our UV Index.
Area Weather Data
Weather conditions differ around our mountain valleys and peaks, and temperatures can vary by 10 degrees or more from one place to another. If you’re new to the area, solicit help from your wedding planner or venue coordinator to learn what to expect for your wedding location and time. To give you a general idea, the following table shows weather averages for the Jackson Hole area.