As if brides and grooms weren't nervous enough about taking that big step into matrimony, the mere thought of disaster striking to disrupt their wedding plans can be devastating. Bridal couples planning "I do" in areas susceptible to extreme storms know that there are no guarantees, and yet they find themselves hoping for sunny weather. While there is often some warning before extreme weather conditions, there are also unexpected, catastrophic events like tornadoes, earthquakes, flash floods and fires.
Imagine beginning the procession down the aisle only to hear the words "Everybody get out! There's a flood coming!" Suddenly, everyone is scrambling, and all of the loving couple's dreams are washed away. Or imagine receiving an unbelievable phone call from the catering hall manager on the morning of the wedding, saying "The venue burned down last night." As absurd as these situations might seem, some brides- and grooms-to-be have heard these very words. And yet many couples still manage to get married. Is there a magic wand that somehow makes wedding vows happen against nature's spitefulness?
Here are some tips from couples that have faced these unexpected events:
*Purchase Wedding/Cancellation Insurance
If you are in an area that might be subject to a storm or other natural disaster, you should consider purchasing wedding insurance. The caveat is that this insurance must be purchased well before the planned event and well before any predictions of storms or other disasters are made. Depending on the event and whether or not the wedding can take place, your insurance policy may help you recoup losses. Be sure to read through the policy and understand what it does and does not cover.
*Read All Venue and Vendor Contracts Carefully
Do this before signing. Know what each contract's cancellation policy is and how long before the event you need to cancel in order to get a refund. If you've scheduled your special day and then hear a weather alert, you might decide to play it safe. Under the cancellation clauses, if the wedding needs to be postponed, some vendors may give the couple a specific time period to rebook without penalty.
*Have Backup Plans
Some facilities have cancellation or liability clauses built into their contracts that attempt to limit their responsibility. If they are totally unable to host your event, you may have legal options to recoup your losses. In cases such as fire or structural damage, some facilities will attempt to make arrangements for hosting the couple's nuptials elsewhere, which would allow all plans to proceed as scheduled. Understand all of your options and ask about backup plans in case they become necessary.
If you know that stormy weather is headed your way but aren't sure whether it will impact your location or not, consider how surrounding travel and resources might be affected. Will your long-distance family be able to fly in as scheduled? Will recommended evacuations bog down local roadways and make it impossible to get to your wedding site? Will the local hotels be able to accommodate your out-of-town guests? If the storm causes a blackout, does your venue have a backup generator? While you are anxious for your day to go as planned, you also need to consider everyone's safety. Speak to friends and family that would be attending and get advice from the facility's management and vendors before making any decision to cancel your plans.
If it's safe to go ahead with your scheduled affair even with a storm moving in, send out a mass email to your guests to let them know plans and any alternatives. Have a phone number where you can leave a voicemail message for your guests, and include that number in your email. Update the message as necessary so that your guests have the information readily available. Provide two or three trusted friends with a full list of contact numbers for all of your guests in case individual phone calls need to be made.
If it looks like the event is not happening but your officiant and a few witnesses are there, go ahead and get married -- then have the party later!