Recent weather forecasts for Rhinebeck, N.Y., have raised the specter of a “rainout” for the July 31 Chelsea Clinton wedding.
We are in a drought now, but it looks like changes are coming in the guise of thunderstorms for the next several days. Each weekly seven-day forecast is being anticipated for a very good reason: Weather can be a big deal at weddings. And it is the one thing that former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cannot control when their daughter marries Goldman Sachs banker Marc Mezvinsky.
The wedding festivities are believed to be taking place at the Astor estate in Rhinebeck, 90 miles north of New York City. Those familiar with the estate say it probably was chosen because it can accommodate a rain emergency easily.
All of the event reportedly will be under tents to keep inventive paparazzi at a distance. Homeland Security probably will declare the sky above a temporary “no-fly zone.”
No matter how complete the contingency plans, rain can make for a different wedding. Shuffling the 400 guests in and out during a New York downpour will require some expert planning. The wedding pictures, with the requisite sunshine, may have to take place under hot lights or even a day or two before.
Jenna Bush and Henry Hager had to sweat out the possibility of a Texas thunderstorm on their May 10, 2008, wedding day. There was lightning and rumbling thunder throughout the nighttime sky before the sunrise finally appeared.
The skies held all day. If the storm had come, the Bushes would have resorted to their “rain plan,” but the ranch would have become a sea of mud, with cars coming and going, sometimes driving across lawn and open grasslands. Ladies would have been rushing into the tents, their high heels caked with mud.
Rain was a major consideration for the last White House wedding of a presidential child, June 12, 1971. Tricia Nixon was planning a Rose Garden ceremony. During the summer, it rains every third day in Washington. As in the case of the Clintons and the Bushes, the Nixon staff had to plan two weddings, which was an enormous strain and burden on the White House. That is why the staff initially tried to talk Tricia Nixon out of her Rose Garden ceremony.
The morning of the Nixon wedding, there were intermittent showers. President Nixon consulted the latest Air Force weather report, which anticipated a break in the clouds around 4:30 p.m.
The White House permanent staff said that Tricia Nixon had nerves of steel. She kept to plan A. The break in the clouds came as predicted, the sun appeared, the plastic coverings were removed from the chairs, and the only White House Rose Garden wedding ceremony in American history unfolded without a hitch.
Meanwhile, residents in Rhinebeck are philosophical about the upcoming Chelsea Clinton-Marc Mezvinsky wedding.
“Maybe rain this week is a good thing,” I was told by a friend who has lived nearby most of his life. “If it rains enough, maybe the sun will come out next week in time for the wedding.”
The Clintons know well the value of contingency planning, so they will be ready either way. And Chelsea, known for her poise and self composure, is not likely to be ruffled by a little rain.
Besides, a tent full of celebrating friends, trapped together, with a downpour outside, and good food and talented musicians inside, everyone dressed to the nines, at one of the most important social events in our lifetime might just make for a glorious, unforgettable moment for the history books.
So rain or shine, Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky will tie the knot July 31. The skies can do what they will.
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