What To Do When a Hurricane Hits Your Destination Wedding Location

I’ve been watching all the hurricane footage from Harvey and Irma and it’s just devastating.  Mother nature is seriously a force that is uncontrollable and when she hits all you can do is wait for it to be over.

I experienced a hurricane when I was a kid.  I didn’t really understand what was happening, I thought it was just a fun day where I didn’t have to go to school.  We played board games while hearing the wind whipping and rain pounding.   I remember we had candles and flashlights and filled the tub with water just in case.  But, we were lucky.  The hurricane died down and the eye didn’t pass over us.  But, while our island was spared, another was not.

There is a scene from the movie, Twister where Helen Hunt is talking about tornados and how it can miss this house and this house and then come after yours. Hurricanes are similar.  It can destroy one area or island and completely miss another.  And it shifts and changes all the time.  It’s unpredictable.  Which means it’s hard to plan for.

So, what happens if a hurricane hits your destination wedding location?  What do you do?

If your destination wedding is happening at the same time when a hurricane hits, follow the directions of your hotel and emergency services.  You will need to postpone your wedding, but at that point, your concern is safety.  Make sure you and your guests are safe first and then deal with the wedding afterward.

Now if your destination wedding is happening within a few months after a hurricane hits, you’re in a different situation. Like if you were planning a Caribbean destination wedding in St. Martin or Anguilla in December.  What do you do now?

5 Steps to Take When a Hurricane Hits Your Destination Wedding Location

Hawaii destination wedding reception at a private estate by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Rachel Robertson Photography)

1. Double check all of your contracts.  Review your contracts to understand what happens in the instance of a hurricane.  Take notes on which contracts have information about hurricanes and which don’t.  You need to understand what you agreed to in order to know what compensation you can get.  This includes your travel too such as flights, accommodations and activities and tours.

2. Reach out to your wedding vendors.  Now you’ll likely have a wait a little while until your vendors can recover from the hurricane and take care of their own basic needs.  But, reach out and ask them about their situation and what that means for your upcoming destination wedding.  Your biggest worry will be your wedding venue as that is the highest likelihood of having suffered damage.   But, all your wedding vendors may have suffered losses which could affect your destination wedding.  Remember, they’ve just gone through a huge natural disaster.  Be considerate of their situation and state of mind.

3. Make Plan B and C and D.  While you’re waiting to hear from your wedding vendors, start making back up plans.  While it hurts, you’ll want to think about the worst case scenario.  For example, if your destination wedding location is destroyed like Barbuda, there is no way your wedding is happening there.  So, where could you have your wedding instead? Or do you want to postpone it?

If a wedding vendor can no longer do your wedding, who else can you contact?  Or what is another option you can consider?  Start going through all the scenarios and make some decisions on what you’d like to do.  Then, start researching those options.  So when you hear from your wedding vendors, you’ll be prepared to move forward.

4. Keep your guests informed.  If your wedding is just a few months away or 6 months away, your guests will also be wondering what is going on.  Email your guests and keep your website up to date with new information as you get it.  Let them know whether your wedding it’s still happening, if it’s still happening at the same location, and any possible changes.

5. Take it step by step and breathe.  This is going to be hard, I’m not going to lie.  You’ll probably lose some money.  You’re going to be stressed out.  It’s hard for a situation like this not to stress you out.  Just breathe and take it step by step.  Remember you’re safe and those you love are safe.  Be thankful for that and move forward and make decisions in the best way you can because that’s all you can do.

You can’t control mother nature and what happens in the future.  But, if you’re starting to plan your destination wedding you can do everything in your power to foresee potential issues and protect yourself.   If you’re planning on getting married somewhere where hurricanes (or other natural disasters) are common, here’s what you can do to protect yourself and prevent disasters.

3 ways to protect yourself from a natural disaster

Wedding party in a group hug at a Calistoga destination wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Kate Webber)

1. Choose a wedding date that isn’t during hurricane season.  Ok, so this seems self-explanatory, but if you don’t want to worry about hurricanes, don’t book your destination wedding during hurricane season.  Or if the destination wedding location you’re interested in tends to have certain weather issues at particular times of the year, avoid those time frames. You’ll have a much smaller likelihood of having to deal with a disaster.  Or if all of that still makes you nervous, pick a destination wedding location where hurricanes aren’t an issue at all.

2. Buy wedding insurance and travel insurance.  Insurance is not something most couples are excited to buy because it doesn’t physically give you anything for your wedding.  But, what it does give you is peace of mind.  You’ll be financially covered if something were to happen (just make sure hurricanes are actually covered in the fine print).  Which is just one less thing to worry about if disaster strikes.

3. Make sure your contract covers you.  When you’re signing contracts, make sure you understand what happens if a hurricane were to hit and damage the hotel/venue/vendor.  And if there isn’t language in the contract, work with the wedding vendor to add some.  You want to feel comfortable with the terms if something were to happen.

Mother nature is a force all her own.  You can’t predict or prevent what will happen.  But, you can prepare and protect yourself and your destination wedding.  And if the unthinkable happens to your destination wedding location like with the recent hurricanes, you have the steps to fix it and move forward.  You can do it.  Nothing is insurmountable.

Bride and groom holding hands on the beach at their Caribbean destination wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: McAllister Photography)

If your destination wedding has been affected by hurricanes Harvey or Irma and you’re scrambling to fix things, please send me an email (info@mangomuseevents.com) or give me a call (1-800-373-1736).  I’d like to help make picking up the pieces easier.  Please reach out if you could use a hand or ten.

And if you want to help those living in the affected areas, you can donate to any of the organizations here or here.


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