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bride and grooms feet on wet pavement

Updated!

Hurricane On Your Wedding Day? Here's What To Do

Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast hitting the New Jersey coastline the hardest and affecting a dozen surrounding states and major metropolitan areas including New York City. If you're one of the 4,000-plus East Coast couples planning a November 2012 wedding, you may have to make some major planning adjustments. Follow our guide.

Photo: Shutter Stock / The Knot

If Your City Or Venue Has Been Affected...


Assess The Situation
It's very important to get all of your wedding vendors on the same page. You may have to go with an alternative venue or even vendor (if for example, your florist can no longer do the arrangements due to the storm). If a particular venue or vendor can no longer carry out plans, ask them to recommend someone who can. Check out our Hurricane Sandy Wedding Facebook group for East Coast vendors and venues with availability this month.


Re-Read Your Contracts
In some cases, your wedding venue contract will include a natural disaster clause, meaning you may not be responsible for the entire bill if you end up having to cancel the wedding. This isn't always the case however, so read the fine print. The person or place you originally signed with may be able to move your wedding date with little to no added cost. On the other hand, if you do decide to keep the date but go with a different vendor or venue, you will probably end up losing your deposit in the very least (they are often nonrefundable).


Decide Whether To Move The Date
Figure out whether your vendors might be willing to work with you on another date for the party. Usually, if you can get everyone on the same page, you should be able to negotiate a new day for the party. You'll also want to check in with your very important guests (close family, bridal party) to make sure that the new date works for everyone.

If There's A Storm Approaching And You're Unsure...

Sit Down with Your Vendors
Some may be more willing and able to go forward with the wedding than others. For example, your florist will be working on arrangements and deliveries up until the day before and might be concerned with delayed flower shipments while your venue manager may be concerned with the safety of her wait staff. Talk through your contracts and ask about potentially postponing the wedding date and what that would do to your wedding costs. Together with your vendors, you should be able to come up with a viable game plan for the wedding weekend.

Start a Wedding Weather Hotline for Guests
Save yourself the headache of answering 100 phone calls from guests and designate a phone your "wedding weather hotline" for the weekend. That way, you can keep guests up-to-date on the wedding plans via voicemail message. Send out a mass email to your guests letting them know that they can call that number at any time over the weekend for info on the wedding plans. Also, add a note to your wedding website for guests to check there as well.

Reschedule Your Honeymoon Flight
If you have a flight scheduled on or around the time bad weather is about to hit the area, be proactive and call the airline to reschedule. That way you don't spend your honeymoon waiting for a flight, or worse, dealing with a canceled flight.

Make the Call
It's not an easy decision but once you've weighed in on how your vendors feel about working through potential hurricane weather, you'll have to decide whether to go through with the wedding. If your wedding is to take place in a potential evacuation zone, don't question it -- call it off. Safety should always be the number-one factor in your decision. Also, the sooner you make the call, the better (to give your guests time to prepare and make alternative travel arrangements). Waiting until the last-minute to call the wedding will just make the situation more stressful.

If You Decide to Cancel the Wedding...


Consider Having The Ceremony Anyway
Think about it: All you really need to get married is a marriage license, a justice of the peace or officiant and a couple witnesses (all of which you'll probably already have). Even if you can't have the full-on reception party, you can still get married. Downsize the ceremony and relocate to your living room or reschedule the ceremony for hours or even a day or two before your intended wedding day. Then plan a party with your family and friends for later.

Schedule the Reception Party for Another Date
Figure out whether your vendors might be willing to work with you on another date for the party. Usually, if you can get everyone on the same page and agreeing to cancel the wedding, you should be able to negotiate a new day for the party.

If You Decide to Go Forward With the Wedding...


End the Party On Time (Or Move It Up Earlier)
You may have to make a few concessions with your vendors should they agree to go forward with the wedding. Remember, number one priority should be to make sure that everyone is safe. This in mind, it might be a good idea to end the party before it gets too late into the night. That way, vendors and their staff won't find themselves doing cleanup at 2 a.m. and then having to drive home in a torrential storm.

Rent a Generator
Power is a big issue during hurricanes so it's a good idea to make sure your venue has a backup power generator in the case of an outage. Ask your venue manager first and if there's not one in-house, rent one. Generators with around 65 kilowatts should be able to power an event for 250-300 guests or more.

Take Care of Deliveries
Appoint someone to take care of and confirm weekend delivery and pick-up times. For example, some rental companies may decide not to send their drivers out for drop-offs after a certain time of the day in the case of a storm. Call all potential vendors with delivery and pick-ups and have them make the deliveries early if possible. Also look into whether you can schedule delayed pick-ups (if your venue can accommodate and help store those items, take advantage).

Have Acoustic Music Options
Again, power is one of the biggest issues in a storm so you might want to figure out a music plan B in the case of an outage. Ask the band to bring their acoustic guitars or look into hiring a jazz band or another group that doesn't rely so heavily on amplified sound.

Appoint A Transportation Point Person
Ask a good friend or bridesmaid to be in charge of transportation and put a plan into action. Instead of having guests drive themselves, rent a shuttle to transport all your guests. It'll help to keep your event streamlined and the itinerary on schedule. Also, make sure that your wedding vendors and their staff are taken care of and offer to accommodate their travel needs to and from the reception as well. (This way, you'll ensure staff coverage on the wedding day.)

Appoint A Hotel and Lodging Point Person
The same goes for hotel reservations. Ask someone to be in charge of making sure all guests have local accommodation options. Have that person call hotels in the area and put together a list of local lodging possibilities for all your guests to use in the case that they can't drive out of the area. Add the info to your wedding website and list it on your wedding weather hotline message.

-- Anja Winikka