Rain is considered to be good luck on your wedding day...but not a hurricane! Hurricane forecasts bring on the thought of cancelling or postponing your wedding celebration, redoing guests lists, replacing wedding party members, renegotiating with vendors, finding new dates that work for all vendors, and the grueling task of requesting refunds. But stay focused on what's really important...the marriage, not the wedding itself. So take a deep breath and let's talk about it!
Okay...so...you thought you were saving money by having a September wedding. But NOW you realize its hurricane season and your wedding just got postponed or cancelled. How much is that going to cost you???!!!
The first thing to do is re-read your contracts for your venue and all of your vendors! This is where your choice of selecting experienced vendors makes all the difference in the world! Let's hope you did that! A lot of contracts include a clause regarding natural disasters and 'acts of God', but not always. Hopefully, if you are dealing with a reputable vendor (and a great event planner), they will assist you in all ways to move your wedding date at no or very little cost to you. Remember most initial deposits are nonrefundable...so if you go with another venue or vendor, you will be at a huge loss. Most venues allow couples to reschedule the date within a year and transfer their deposits to the new date in case of 'an act of God'.
It may be very hard for some vendors to move to another date if the original date was to happen in just a few days. For example, the florists may already have the very expensive flower deliveries on the way and the caterer may have already ordered the food you requested. So, it's time to have a sit-down with your vendors to discuss alternatives. If your wedding is taking place in an evacuation area, you and your vendors have no choice...the wedding must be postponed or cancelled...your venue will be shut down. Your guests' safety comes first. If your wedding's area is in an evacuation area, perhaps that will assist your guests in getting their airline or other travels plans rescheduled without charge--therefore, prompt notification to them is essential.
Not only do you need to consider your vendors, but you must make sure that your essential guests and members of the wedding party can still attend on the new date. Most will have already made travel plans for your original date. The earlier you make your decision the better...for everyone! Earlier decisions will provide you with more options. Last minute changes will definitely cost more issues, pressure, and stress! Experts say that 72 hours before the wedding day is the general deadline to make changes due to hazardous weather. Caterers, in general, need at least 72 hours' notice due to the purchase of food that will spoil. For your planner, they need at least 3 days notice to reach out to vendors to make other plans. This also gives you time (but very little) to call the guests.
When speaking with guests, remember to be sympathetic to them if they are not able to attend on the new date. Just let them know you are sorry they cannot attend, that you understand completely, and if possible, make plans to get together with them soon after the wedding date.
Weather forecasters can be way off on their predictions but make your decision as early as possible. Go with the official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website (NOAA), to get the most accurate forecast available. The site has a page that deals specifically with hurricanes, as well as snowstorms. Keep up with daily changes in the weather...they can continuously change...your money is on the line!
If you decide to cancel/postpone your big ceremony:
You could still have a small, intimate wedding. You could simply get your officiant and a few guests and move to a safe location. Plan a nice reception later with everyone.
Contact your guests with the new plan ASAP.
No need for new invitations with new date--just email, call, or update your wedding website.
Enlist help with calls to guests and with replacing vendors who can't reschedule, etc.
If you find yourself with a tight budget due to lost deposits, consider asking family and friends to help you cook up some dishes for your celebration.
Be aware that you may have to get a new marriage license if the date is put off too far in the future.
Don't forget to reschedule your honeymoon plans...travel and accommodations.
If you decide to go ahead with the wedding:
Rent a generator, if your vendor(s) don't have one.
Keep a great sense of humor and a smile on your face...go with the flow.
Contact your vendors immediately to see if they will work with you (in accordance with your contract). If so, determine when and if they have dates available.
Speak with your bridal party, immediate family and essential guests about possible new dates to see if it fits for the majority of them.
Choose a new wedding date and plan before contacting your guests.
After speaking with guests, redo your guest list and wedding party to adjust to any changes.
Make sure you have a website to update guests continuously of any changes. Ensure they are aware of it during the update contact.
Planning beforehand to help to avoid these situations:
Carefully read all contracts for contingency plans and the Force Majeure clause (i.e., in the event of "Acts of God"--fires, earthquakes, hurricanes). Check to see if your venue or vendor will reimburse you in full (very rare) or if they will reschedule your event at not additional cost.
Set up a website and contact number for your wedding when you begin planning. Let guests know about it in the invitation packet.
Ask guests for an email in order to send out mass mailings in case of any important changes to your wedding weekend--makes future contract speedy and efficient.
Consider that hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th with September being the busiest hurricane month...talk to vendors who have contracts that address this.
Winter brides (December through March) should stay aware of the chance of snow/ice cancellations and plan accordingly. Select a wedding date that has as few risks as possible in planning--with the thought that anything can happen at any time.
Purchase wedding insurance/event cancellation insurance (due to unexpected death, deployment, and natural disasters)--average costs are $400 to $500 and covers about $50,000.
Always include a BACKUP PLAN with your planning table.
Consider all the ways of how NOT to lose money due to cancellations/postponements by reading your contracts very carefully.
Get experienced vendors--they will know how to adjust with inclement weather and meet challenges with/for you.
Don't forget...everything happens for a reason! You will probably have an even greater wedding celebration with the new plans. Good luck to you and REMEMBER IT'S ALL ABOUT YOUR NEW LIFE TOGETHER!