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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How to Handle a Wedding Hurricane

Words by Courtney Kellar

When it comes to weddings, even the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry. No matter the number of well-managed to-do lists, Excel spreadsheets and talented vendors, Mother Nature sometimes has a mind of her own. As recent storms have unfortunately proven, some of the most beautiful wedding destinations can fall victim to hurricanes and tropical storms. Please don’t be dissuaded from hosting your event in these amazing locales, but do make sure you’re prepared. We’ve asked a travel expert to share their finely honed tips on how to handle a hurricane in your chosen wedding destination. Below are some tips from deputy executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, Christine Sarkis.

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Time it right: If you’re thinking about a destination wedding or a honeymoon in a hurricane-prone destination, seriously consider traveling out of peak hurricane season, which runs from June through November. Yes, it’s less expensive to go during hurricane season, but is it worth the savings if it means your wedding or honeymoon needs to be rescheduled?

Caribbean-dreaming? Choose carefully: If you’ve got your heart set on a destination that’s prone to hurricanes, for instance the Caribbean or Mexico, opt for a spot outside the hurricane belt. For instance, the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) are far enough south in the Caribbean that most hurricanes pass them by.

Consider insurance: If you’re booking a destination wedding or honeymoon to a hurricane-prone location during that peak hurricane season of June through November, seriously consider getting comprehensive travel insurance. It’s an added expense, but one you’ll be grateful for if you need to change plans at the last minute. And remember that once a storm is named, it’s too late to get travel insurance for your trip.

Talk to your hotel: Before you book, call the hotels you’re considering and ask them about their hurricane contingency plan. This should cover everything from evacuation routes and transportation options to reimbursement policies.

Call ahead: If a storm is on track to affect your destination, call your airline and hotel right away and figure out what kind of flexibility each is offering. Rebooking your flight a few days later may not work if your hotel sustains damage and can’t host you, so it’s worth talking through all the options and contingencies so you can adjust your plan according to the actual path of the storm. Note that airlines usually post hurricane alerts on their homepages, so you can quickly check if your flight is affected. 

Create a plan: If there’s a chance your travel plans will be affected, create a personal contingency plan together. Create a backup plan in case weather messes with your Plan A. 

Be proactive: If you find yourself in a destination affected by a storm, get out in front of it. Decide if you’re going to evacuate or hunker down. If your plan is to evacuate, do it early. Airlines start cancelling flights well in advance of landfall and if you’re not out in plenty of time, you’re likely to spend your honeymoon sheltering at a crowded airport. 

If you evacuate, check with your hotel before you go: Know if the hotel will let you back in if you try to fly out, but your flight is cancelled.

If you get stuck at a hotel: If you get stuck at the hotel to ride out the storm, prepare your room. Pack your items so you can move quickly. Put your shoes by the door. Close any heavy curtains to protect you from glass showering the room. Get a flashlight and batteries. Consider moving some furniture into the bathroom and riding out the worst in a more protected area.

Don’t consider it a bad omen: If your nuptial plans are impacted by a hurricane, don’t take it personally. It’s not a bad omen, it’s the weather and marriage is a grand adventure.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort (1st, 3rd & 4th), Jetsetter (2nd) & The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba (5th & 6th).

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