When planning a wedding, you have control over the guest list, the reception location and nearly every other detail of your big day. The one thing you can't control? The weather. It's innately chaotic, and no matter what anyone tells you, it can't be predicted months in advance.

When planning a wedding, you have control over the guest list, the reception location and nearly every other detail of your big day. The one thing you can't control? The weather. It's innately chaotic, and no matter what anyone tells you, it can't be predicted months in advance.

So how should you plan for the weather, especially if you want to hold a ceremony or reception outside? To help you out, here's a five-step plan for a stress-free outdoor wedding:

1. Determine Your Ideal Weather and Identify Windows of Opportunity

While "ideal" wedding weather is subjective, most people seem to be looking for a day that's dry and comfortably warm, but not hot. Let's assume that means temperatures from 70 to 85 degrees. Find out when your wedding location averages temperatures in this range (or the range of your choice). Weather.com has a great tool for this: just plug-in your location and it provides data on average temperature and precipitation throughout the year. It also provides daily temperature records (i.e., the hottest and coldest it's ever been on a given date) which will give you a sense of the full range of possible conditions.

2. Select a Date That Provides the Best Chance of Realizing Ideal Weather

Weather isn't the only factor when choosing a date — venue availability, guest travel plans and other details have to be taken into consideration. When choosing your date, also consider the time of day during which you plan to hold your outdoor event. If you're planning an outdoor reception at night, temperatures will be falling. So that might mean you want to pick your date using low temperatures as the criteria instead of highs.

3. Develop a Bad Weather Backup Plan

There's an old saying: "climate is what you expect, weather is what you get." In other words, don't let what the average conditions are at a location fool you into thinking those are guaranteed. Determine how and where you'll move your event if there's rain or extreme temperatures. Discuss this backup plan with caterers, florists, musicians and other key players ahead of time. When deciding whether or not to move your wedding into a climate-controlled environment, consider the health of your guests — especially the elderly who may be especially sensitive to heat, cold and getting wet.

4. Don't Start Checking the Forecast Until a Week Before Your Wedding

As the wedding draws closer, you're going to want to know whether your outdoor setting is safe or whether you need to resort to your bad-weather plan. Unfortunately, reliable forecasts are not available very far in advance. A detailed forecast probably won't be available until a few days before the event.

The most challenging forecasts to plan for are those that include a 30 percent chance or so of thunderstorms. That's because these storms are often widely scattered and develop unpredictably. Find the weather geek attending your wedding (there's usually at least one) and give that person radar duty.

5. Embrace and Enjoy Whatever Weather Your Wedding Day Brings You

Just because you can't control the weather doesn't mean it needs to be a source of stress. By understanding the range of weather possibilities for your wedding day and preparing for all of them, you can check weather right off your 500-item to-do list and then rejoice in your special day, rain or shine.