Mother Nature is unpredictable, and bad weather has forced many couples to have to re-think their wedding plans. But what do you do if risky weather moves in on your wedding day? While having a backup plan in the event of rain or chilly temps is always smart, it'll only help you in the event of inclement weather—not a hurricane, blizzard, or other natural disaster. So what's a couple to do if they realize they need to reschedule or cancel their nuptials due to a dangerous forecast? Before you break into a sweat, know that this very rarely happens. Even so, there's nothing wrong with being prepared. To arm you with all the knowledge you'll ever need should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, we asked wedding planners and one couple who dealt with a major weather sabotage to share the tips you need to know.
Be realistic about the threat.
Rescheduling a wedding is a tough decision to make, especially when you've been hoping the forecast would shift ahead of your wedding. Julie Savage Parekh of Strawberry Milk Events reminds couples to be realistic about the weather. "I'm not talking about canceling your al fresco reception because rain is in the forecast, but it's definitely something to consider if there's a serious threat. It's not ideal, but neither is putting anyone in danger." For Jenn Campbell and Sean Bandazian, that meant taking a hard look at the forecast for their wedding date: October 7, 2016. According to meteorologists, Hurricane Matthew was headed straight for Charleston, South Carolina, where they planned to tie the knot at Boone Hall Plantation. The couple knew it wouldn't be safe to have guests travel to the city for their wedding, so they began coming up with a plan to reschedule their ceremony and reception.
Consult your contracts.
If it becomes clear that your wedding needs to be rescheduled, pull out your vendor contracts. Most pros include Force Majeure (or superior force) clause, which outlines what happens should an unforeseen, unavoidable, and often dangerous situation arises. Most of your vendors will work with you to reschedule your day, but having the details in writing is important. Gretchen Culver, owner and creative director of Rocket Science Events, says that every couple should have a backup plan and should understand exactly what employing it would mean for their day. "With outdoor weddings it's important to talk about the 'ideal plan' and the 'rain plan' at the same time," she says, "You also need to talk about what happens when plan B goes into effect."
Check your wedding insurance policy.
If you're getting married during hurricane season, over the winter, or else in a place that regularly experiences dangerous weather, it's worth considering wedding insurance. "This provides peace of mind to be able to make the call to move the wedding in bad weather and not fear being out all the money you have already paid," says Culver. Assuming you already took out a wedding insurance policy, carefully review your terms with your agent before you decide how to move forward.
Lean on those around you for help.
Campbell and Bandazian stress how grateful they were to have help from friends, family and their wedding planners at When In White as they changed their plans. "All my vendors were calling me and I was so stressed out," Campbell says. "I told my wedding planners and they immediately sent them all a mass email to direct all contact to them. They were a life saver!" Since their florist wouldn't offer a refund on the flowers, the bride's mother picked them up as she evacuated the city.
Try to come up with an alternative.
It's not always possible, but being able to get married on your intended date can make a huge difference for your mindset. For Campbell and Bandazian, that meant heading to Charlotte, North Carolina, during the evacuation and tying the knot at Sycamore Brewery, where the owner insisted they tie the knot there after hearing of their canceled plans. With the non-refundable flowers around them, the couple was able to get legally married on their original wedding date with a small group of family members, friends, and their dog, Hank. "It really helped to have a plan to still get married," the bride says. "It turned a super emotional situation around and we redirected our focus on that."
Spread the word.
If you have to call off the wedding due to dangerous weather, there's a good chance your guests already realize that this was a possibility. Even so, you need to notify family and friends as soon as possible. In Campbell and Bandazian's situation, that meant not only letting guests know that the wedding would take place at the intended venue a few months later but also that they were throwing an impromptu celebration in a safer location. To do so, the couple divided their guest list and sent out mass emails notifying guests that their wedding was, technically, still on, and inviting them to reroute their flights or to join them for the second celebration instead. When notifying your guests of last-minute wedding changes, the pros recommend downloading a free email tracker to see who hasn't opened the email, then following up with a phone call to ensure everyone knows.