What would you do if a hurricane threatened to interrupt your wedding plans? Would you run around screaming with your hands flailing in the air? That’s one plan but it wouldn’t be especially productive.
At one point a few days ago, there was the possibility that Tropical Storm Erika would strengthen into a hurricane and move up the coast toward Eastern North Carolina. Thankfully that’s no longer the case; the storm fell apart in the Caribbean and we’ll get some mid-week storms instead.
It’s difficult to tell you exactly what you should do because the timing, location, and severity of each storm is different. However, we can present you with seven tips that’ll allow you to make educated decisions on what to do if your wedding day will be affected. Whether you still choose to run around screaming is entirely up to you.
Consider wedding insurance: This is something that you’ll want to consider months in advance, not when a hurricane is already coming your way. That said, if you’re still in the early planning stages and you’re planning a wedding during hurricane season, especially September and October, wedding insurance might not be a bad thing.
Then again, odds are that if you’re reading this article, there’s a decent chance you already have a hurricane spinning somewhere in the Atlantic. In that case…
Don’t panic!: Hurricane forecasts change constantly. They speed up, slow down, change course east and west, and sometimes if you’re lucky, they’ll dissipate into a rainstorm. (Thank you TS Erika!)
Rather than panicking, spend your time doing something productive. Get prepared and have multiple options at the ready.
Stalk the weather forecast and assess the threat: The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, and your local TV meteorologists are your friends here. While they certainly aren’t perfect, they probably know a little more about it than you do. (Just a hunch.)
Follow their predictions and use them to make educated decisions.
Safety first: No, you can’t have your wedding in the middle of a category 5 hurricane. Safety needs to come first. That doesn’t just mean you and your fiancee. Everybody else from guests to vendors need to make plans to seek shelter and take care of their families.
Don’t be dumb. If there are coastal flood advisories, listen to them. If there’s an evacuation order, follow it.
Re-read contracts/check with vendors: Since you obviously carry all wedding contracts around with you at all times, you should have no problem reading them to find out what the hurricane and date change policies are for each of your vendors. OK, so that’s probably unrealistic.
If you have your signed contracts handy, then yes, you should read them. More than likely, it’ll be easier to just call the vendor and ask them about your options.
This is where it starts to get really tricky. Some will change the date with little to no problem. Others will give you significant pushback because they’re already booked for the new date/time, they have a separate full time job that interferes, or their already ordered/prepared merchandise won’t hold up. (Think flowers, cakes, catering.)
Consider time/date change options: This is where you combine your knowledge from stalking the weather and checking with vendors. Every storm and every timeframe is different so we can’t definitively tell you what to do for your hurricane. Instead, look through a few of these options. None of them are perfect, but they’re ways to create the best of a bad situation.
*Mini-wedding early, postponed reception/party: You can move up the date of your wedding ceremony by a day or two as long as you don’t expect many of your guests to be there. By doing a small, private ceremony, you can still get married at roughly the same time. You can then schedule a much larger celebration with friends and family for a much later date. Moving the entire wedding up a day or two likely won’t work for guests or vendors.
*Earlier in the day: If the hurricane is scheduled to arrive a day or two after wedding day, consider moving the festivities significantly earlier in the day. Instead of a late afternoon/evening event, make it an morning/early afternoon event. This will allow you to safely have your event in beautiful weather (it’s called “calm before the storm” for a reason) and then allow everybody involved to safely retreat to ride out the storm.
*Postpone by a day or two: Slide the date back by a day or two. For example, an interrupted wedding that was originally scheduled for Saturday would then happen on Sunday or Monday. Guests are more likely to stay late than they are to arrive early so many would still be able to attend. However, you could run into problems with storm damage and flooding if they occur.
*Briefly postponed mini-wedding, postponed reception/party: This is the same idea as the first option but with the small ceremony taking place after the previously scheduled wedding. You could then have a large party significantly later.
*Postpone significantly: This is probably the safest option. Call it off (for now) and don’t test Mother Nature. Take some time to regroup and then reschedule for weeks or months later.
Create a central location for guest info: You don’t need the guests to contact you individually. You already have enough on your plate and shouldn’t be worrying about that. Consider starting a Facebook group/event, a chain email, or a group text to inform everybody at once. You can also designate one or two people as a contact person, preferably somebody who knows many of the guests such as a mother of the bride and/or groom, a bridesmaid, or a family friend.
Don’t forget about your honeymoon: If a hurricane is changing your wedding plans, there’s a decent chance that it’s changing your honeymoon plans too. Flights will be delayed/cancelled and road trips will stop before they ever get started.
None of your options are particularly stupendous but they’re all better (and safer) than getting married in the middle of a hurricane.