Who hasn’t heard the phrase “April showers bring May flowers”? It’s woven into our yearly springtime small talk, yet as a bride-to-be I somehow thought it didn’t pertain to my wedding day.

My husband and I chose to hold our ceremony in April at the Brazilian Room in Tilden Park, in the Berkeley foothills not far from our home. We liked the idea of open air, redwood trees, and springtime for our vows, followed by a cozy fire and candles in the cabin-like hall for dinner and dancing. It all sounded so simple when we reserved the spot the year before. We even had a backup plan (inside the hall) in case it rained.

It wasn’t going to rain. The world of bridal magazines, websites, and other girlie propaganda clearly indicated this was not a possibility. In every photo of an outdoor ceremony sun streaked across a bright blue sky. All tips for a garden party assumed that rain would not be a factor. Even our photographer’s website didn’t show one picture of a bride and groom embracing under a big umbrella, and when I asked our caterer about a backup plan she said “We’ll have one but don’t worry. It won’t rain.” Not wanting to add to pre-wedding anxiety, I took it to heart.

But we got married at the end of an unusual two-month rain streak. San Francisco rainfall was 150% of normal for the month of March alone. Six of seven days had seen some amount of rain for 60 days straight – or at least that was how everyone felt.

As soon as weather reports for my wedding day started to appear, friends and family sent well-meaning but unsolicited updates. One day I was looking at sunshine sandwiched between rain. The next, my big day was the rain-soaked bread of the sandwich, with sun shining the following day. I began to panic. Every time I looked outside at the incessant rain, Alanis Morissette’s refrain “It’s like rain on your wedding day” ran through my head and I nearly burst into tears.

Then I pulled myself together. Ever the planner, I decided to take action. Rain? No problem. There must be advice for brides on how to plan an indoor wedding with rhythmic rain rolling romantically down the reception hall windows.

I found a single story in my obsessive Web search. It appeared on several Aussie bridal sites and was full of rainy day wisdom (an overcast sky makes for better photos; your flowers and cake won’t melt under a cool rain) but I wanted more. All I found were debates over whether rain at your wedding was bad or good luck. Apparently it’s both. How helpful.

I turned to friends for ideas. One sparked a mad search for yellow umbrellas. How fun! I imagined pictures of our bridal party all standing under bright yellow arcs, a colorful spring buoyancy backed by our overly gray April. I searched Chinatown on lunch breaks but found only parasols and cheap, mis-matched compact umbrellas. I searched the Web but came up empty. We settled for red.

By the time my mother-in-law-to-be arrived on our wedding week, the entire Bay Area was wilting and cranky. I picked up my gown at a galleria in the City during an especially heavy storm. The staff had been pleasant through my fittings, but on this day I received only a wistful headshake along with my pink, plastic-wrapped package. “Will you be okay walking to your car in this rain?” I shrugged and said I had parked underground, but the bridal assistant didn’t seem to hear. “All our April brides are soooo disappointed by this horrible weather!” I glared at her with disbelief. Why should it matter?

That evening, still a few days before the event, our wedding party drove up the mudslide-soaked hills to the Brazilian Room for our rehearsal. My parents showed up first. On our arrival, through the high-speed windshield wipers of our car, we saw them beaming under a brilliant gateway of pink cherry blossoms. According to site staff, the flowers usually bloom earlier, but had been delayed by all the rain. These blossoms felt like a gift. They reminded me that each season brings its own glory, and that the beauty of any wedding comes from the heart, not the weather.

I also got lucky: It did not rain on my wedding day. It did threaten, up to the moment I left my Berkeley home in full bridal regalia. But as my bridal party and I drove up Spruce Street towards Tilden Park, the sun came out. Quick on his feet, my husband asked guests to help move chairs from their backup location to the patio so we could be married outdoors as hoped, under an umbrella of pale blue sky that slipped away around the time cocktails ended.

While my wedding story has a sun-happy ending, it has another as well. I made a vow to myself to enjoy the day to its fullest, no matter what happened. A few non weather-related things didn’t go exactly as planned, but it’s all part of our story. So is the image of me bonding with my mother-in-law in front of the 11pm news the night before the big day. We were waiting for the weather amidst reports of yet another mudslide in the hills. Instead of focusing on that she turned to me and said, “Weren’t those cherry blossoms at the rehearsal gorgeous? How fortunate we’ve had all this rain.”

Copyright 2006 by Laralynn Weiss Rapoza. All rights reserved.