Wedding Wisdom Wednesday: What You Should Know about Fall Weddings in Ohio

Local pros share insight and tips for planning your wedding.

Windi Noble
Autumn weddings come with their own set of potential problems to overcome.

Fall wedding season is almost upon us and, as an experienced wedding officiant of seven years (coupled with more than 25 years in events and catering), I am excited to share some insight for your consideration while you are planning your dream celebration. Time and time again, when I ask my couples why they chose their date and location, their response is, “I just love the fall colors—we aren’t decorating, because the leaves are going to be the décor.” 

I always giggle at this kind of response; the innocence and inexperience are refreshing. Then I quickly come in with my specialty: serious, dream-crushing truths—or, as I like to call it, candid and frank advice that will save your backside and improve your and your guests’ experience.   

Weather 

Have a back-up plan for extreme weather; there could be extreme heat, rain, or even sleet or snow to contend with. It’s a game of roulette when it comes to October forecasts in Ohio. I don’t want to get too science-y, but Mother Nature has a beautiful plan … and it won’t necessarily accommodate your wedding day.  

When it’s hot, it is hot! We do not want your guests to be uncomfortable in their dashing attire during your outdoor ceremony if the weather is 85 and brutally sunny. Please consider having water available for your guests as they take their seats; if you are feeling generous, hand fans are nice too. I do my part to ensure your guests are not sitting in extreme weather too long by keeping my ceremony simple, meaningful, entertaining and no more than 25 minutes in length. 

Remember the bit about your guests’ dashing attire? Consider having a tent, which can provide shade from the sun or shelter from the elements if it turns rainy or cold. Trust me, nothing says “buzzkill” like a surprise rainstorm on your wedding day. Not to be all doom and gloom, but you should see the looks of misery on guests’ faces as rain soaks them to the bone—it’s really hard for me to watch while your ceremony is happening.  

I know, I know; this day isn’t about me, and you won’t notice because it’s your wedding day and you are staring deeply into your partner’s eyes. However, I have a strong sense of community, and I would love for all couples to avoid putting their guests (and vendors) through this particular experience.   

Fall Color 

That wildly unpredictable weather has a major effect on autumn’s greatest show. In short, don’t count on “fall color.” This isn’t New England; Ohio is known for being all Ohio-y, which is why there’s myriad memes about this very topic. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, peak “fall color” time starts in the northern part of the state at the beginning of October and can go through mid-November in the southern half. That’s a wide range that varies greatly based on where in the state your wedding is located. 

If we have any cold snaps, the leaves could all fall quickly, leaving you with stark, bare branches. And if it stays warm unseasonably late, they could stay green until November. That’s not to say you won’t get lucky; someone’s going to snag the “perfect fall color” date most years, and it could be you! But treat vibrant leaves as a lovely bonus to your wedding day, not a detail that the success of the event hinges upon. 

Bees? Yes, bees. 

With autumn’s warm days and the cooler nights, the bees— or more specifically, their more aggressive cousin, yellow jackets—are a real concern. They can and will show up to your outdoor ceremony, whether you received their RVSP or not. I can’t tell you how many guests I’ve seen get stung over the years. Prepare by having an EpiPen on-site, tell your guests to bring theirs, and have a first aid kit available for quick stinger removal.  

Tips for couple: Forego the extra fragrances. You will already have makeup, shower gels and hair spray, which they love; don’t add to their temptation. Flowers are beautiful but also attract stinging insects, so consider passing off your bouquet as soon as you step up to the altar. For guys, a non-floral boutonniere (think: succulents, pine cones, berries or feathers) can help avert disaster.  

If a bee or yellow jacket is swarming you or your partner’s head, don’t swat at it! Instead, blow air out through pursed lips, again and again, slowly and gently. Eventually, the bee will fly off. And keep an eye out for each other; if a bee lands on you, it’ll be up to your partner to save your life by gently brushing it away.  

If you are still with me—know all of this is real talk comes from a place of love. I hope this wisdom helps to prevent discomfort on your wedding day!  

Windi Noble is the owner and officiant behind Run to an Elopement, twice voted as “best officiant” in the annual Best of Columbus Weddings reader poll. She is a licensed nondenominational and nontraditional wedding officiant who supports marriage equality and honors all religious, spiritual and secular backgrounds. Windi’s officiating journey began when two of her dear friends got engaged and asked her to perform their ceremony; she now considers it an honor to perform these sacred rituals over and over again. Her approach to wedding officiating is one of service and mindful practices, and she loves to incorporate clients’ traditions, values and personalities into their ceremonies.