If you are reading this blog, you are either freaking out because a Hurricane is predicted to make landfall on your wedding or you want to have a wedding during Hurricane season and think it might be best to take some precautions. If you’re the group that is facing tropical weather for your wedding, scroll to the middle to get to that part in a hurry!
Hurricane season starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th. In New Orleans, this period includes some of our best weather and the most popular months to get married … June, October, and November. If it’s a summer or fall wedding in NOLA, it’s probably during hurricane season. To relieve stress now and avoid panic later, make a plan now for how to deal with the possibility of high winds, heavy rain, tornadoes, flooding, and power outages on the wedding day. I have 5 quick steps that you can take right now to protect your wedding. Seriously, don’t blow this off (pun intended.)
5 Steps When you are planning a wedding in Hurricane Season
Step 1: Wedding Insurance
Purchase wedding insurance. You can do this through your local insurance agent, or you can purchase online. Try WedSure. Keep in mind that you’ve got to purchase this type of insurance before there’s a potential weather event. In other words, if you are doing this a couple of weeks before your wedding because there’s a storm brewing, that’s too late.
Step 2: Weather Hotline
The Knot.com published a blog on hurricane preparedness and they suggested that in the event of a weather emergency to start a wedding weather hotline. It’s as simple as designating a person whose phone number guests should call to get weather-related updates on your wedding. Generally, this isn’t the bride or groom’s number. If the hurricane does affect your wedding, people know who to call for an update. Then you update the voicemail message with the latest plans. You may give instructions about a new time, change of venue, availability of transportation, etc. Since you are planning ahead, include that phone number as an option for RSVP on your actual invitation. The invitation will be easiest reference your guests have for your wedding, so give them the info they need! This will spare your phone from being blown up with calls and texts requesting the emergency plan.
In addition, when you create your guest list database, include an email address and phone number along with every physical address you collect. In the event you have an emergency, you’ll have a quick way to reach all your guests.
Step 3: Cell Numbers for Wedding Professionals
Make sure you get an emergency or cell phone number from every pro that is working on your wedding. Tropical weather is unpredictable and volatile. By the close of business on Friday, you may have one plan, and an entirely different one on Friday at 10 pm. If you’ve been communicating by email or by business phone with your pros, that will not suffice in this type of situation. You’ll need a way to quickly update them. We had a wedding that was moved up several hours due to a curfew established by the City for the Saturday evening of the wedding. The curfew was announced on Friday evening. We were able to contact all our pros by phone within an hour and make a plan to deal with this change.
Step 4: Items You’ll Need
Consider adding rentals that could make stormy weather more manageable. Items like generators, tents, stages, and traction mats can be added to your rental list. Most companies will require a non-refundable deposit for these types of items. You can avoid paying the balance by canceling within the deadline they set (usually 48-72 hours prior.)
Ponchos are as cheap as $.50 online and $1 at Walmart. Some coordinators have ponchos on hand that you pay for if you use. Venues and coordinators sometimes have these clear umbrellas for you to borrow. A variety of colored umbrellas opened during your ceremony will change the look and block the view. Towels also come in handy with rainy weather.
Step 5: Communicate Priorities
Discuss what your priorities are and how you would like adjust to necessary changes. Even if some of your wedding plan falls through, making those plans and communicating them to a coordinator or the wedding pro team gives you the best shot at making adjustments you’ll be happy with later. I’ve heard clients say, “Oh I don’t even want to think about rain, I’m just praying it doesn’t happen.”
That’s risky because it becomes much harder for pros to help in a way that is consistent with the client’s expectations if a plan hasn’t been discussed. If the bride has said, look no matter what I’m having my ceremony outside. Even if the guests don’t come out, she’s getting married under that tree. Okay, well that is very helpful. The photographer needs protection for his gear, the musician may not be able to play, or maybe we can put him under a pop-up tent, we’ve got to have umbrellas, ponchos, and towels on hand, the hair and makeup artists may use different products, the officiant may wear a raincoat. The heads up allows the pros to show up prepared and better able to serve the client.
Bonus Tip: Flood Risk
This one is specifically for my New Orleans readers, understand your venue’s flood risk. Flooding is a reality in New Orleans, even when we are not in hurricane season. And certain parts of the city are more likely to flood. The city has an interactive tool where you can enter an address to find out its flood risk.
When Tropical Weather is an Active Threat to Your Wedding
For all those who are reading this because it looks like tropical weather is going to affect, postpone or cancel your wedding, this part is for you. Alright, first things first: You. Got. This. The people around you will step up, and you will have a dream wedding that you will never forget. Now, let’s figure this thing out. Since you can’t control this storm, here’s 5 things you can do to control its impact.
Tip 1: Crash Course in Hurricane Terminology
Here’s a crash course on how the city handles hurricanes. The decisions you make in the coming week, days or hours will depend on the procedures in place by the city. We have a home base in New Orleans, so I’ll give you the 411 for Nola. Here are your basics:
Mandatory evacuation order. If the City issues a mandatory evacuation, all residents and visitors must leave. During a mandatory evacuation, all lanes on major highways will go out of the city. This is called contraflow. Plan your route ahead of time. If people refuse, they won’t be forced out of their homes. However, there are no public services available to people who stay.
Voluntary evacuation. When the City issues a voluntary evacuation, it will begin at a certain time and date. There is not a penalty if a person chooses not to evacuate, so people can choose for themselves. Generally, a curfew will be set with this type of order.
Curfew. If the City issues a curfew, it means people must be in their homes or hotel rooms at the stated curfew time. Keep in mind that even if your wedding is in a hotel, this does not mean that you’ll be able to have your wedding. The pros and staff will not be able to get to your wedding if a curfew is set.
Shelter in place order. If the City issues an order to Shelter in Place, it means people must go home and stay there.
Hurricane Watch: Tropical storm or hurricane conditions are possible.
Hurricane Warning: Tropical storm or hurricane conditions are expected.
Tip 2: Activate Your Wedding Hotline
Start a wedding weather hotline. If you included a phone number for RSVP on your invitation, make that phone your wedding weather hotline. Record a voicemail with the current plan for your wedding along with the time that you are recording. Include when the next update will be as well. If there’s no change, that’s a good recording too! Let guests know about this hotline by text, email, or phone call. Also, post it on your wedding website.
Tip 3: Wedding Pro Team Meeting
Get your wedding pro team on the same page. Reach out to your pros, let them know your current plan, give them the best number to reach you and ask for their emergency phone number. (A landline at a storefront won’t work).
Tip 4: When in Doubt, Ask
Anything goes. When your wedding turns into a hurricane wedding, many of your plans fall apart, but all sorts of new possibilities open up. If you have ideas about things you could do to make your wedding work, ask your venue and wedding pros. Pros have expenses that can’t be recovered related to your wedding. Florists have purchased flowers, catering and bartending have purchased perishable food and drinks. And all of your pros appreciate the work and income they earn from working for you. In other words, they want your wedding to happen too, so most will be flexible and accommodating in pulling it together, even in the face of tropical weather. They may not say yes to everything you request, but they may have ideas for how to get you to your destination by a different route!
Tip 5: Don’t Risk It
Anything goes, except risk to safety, that doesn’t go. The only thing that’s an absolute no, would be exposing wedding pros and guests to danger related to the storm conditions. So, heed the warnings set forth by the City, and take precautions to make sure everyone is safe. Click here for regular updates in New Orleans. Another great resource for updates is this website, it has all the pics and models you are looking for.
Good luck and keep your head up!
I’m hoping that you won’t need any of this information. If you do, know that many of the brides that my team and I have worked with have faced hurricane weather. These tips have helped them to plan, recover and have a dream wedding even under the reality of high winds, heavy rain, tornadoes, flooding, and power outages. Remember, you’ve got this.