Destination Wedding Plan B: When Bad Weather Strikes

High winds and rain lash palm trees on beach during a tropical storm.

Picture this: you’ve planned the perfect destination wedding on some dazzling island in the Caribbean. You’re going to be married on the beach—food, decorations, music, and guest seating are all arranged. That lovely, gauzy wedding dress you picked out (the one that will look incredible against the blue ocean backdrop) is carefully packed, along with the rest of your things. Your plane tickets and photographer have been booked for months. Your friends and family have reserved their flights and rooms. Everything is set and ready to go.

And then… disaster strikes.

You wake up the day you’re supposed to leave to news that a hurricane is lashing the golden shores of that gorgeous Caribbean island. Planes are grounded. No flights in or out.

What now??

How to plan for Plan B

This is the stuff wedding nightmares are made of 😱

Although there’s no way to guarantee bad weather won’t hit on your big day (Mother Nature is unpredictable, after all), there are definitely steps you can take protect your wedding from stormy surprises.

1. Know when to go

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, affecting countries in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. Tropical cyclones and storms are more likely to hit during this period, which means planning your destination wedding outside of hurricane season is one of the simplest ways to avoid any issues.

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though! I got married in Mexico in August (smack dab in the middle of hurricane season) with no rain or wind in sight. Don’t stress if you’ve got your heart set on a summer wedding—look at weather trends before booking a date and make a list of backup destinations in case the forecast for your location of choice is iffy. With that said, if a hurricane were to hit, the most likely time would be in the months of September and October.

2. Remember your ABCs

Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, that is. Cute acronym, right? 👩‍🏫 These Dutch-owned islands are sometimes overlooked in favor of their more popular Caribbean cousins, but couples looking to get hitched abroad should take note—all three islands sit outside the hurricane belt, making them prime destination wedding locations.

Not only do the ABC islands have stellar weather year-round, they also offer something for every kind of traveler: Aruba’s hotels and beaches are postcard-worthy, Bonaire offers unparalleled diving and sleepy island charm, and Curaçao strikes the perfect balance between natural beauty and a vibrant city scene.

3. Hope for the best but plan for the worst

You may have your dream wedding all planned and ready to go, but don’t stop there! Make a Plan B. Then a Plan C, just to be safe.

This is especially important if you want an outdoor wedding—what if it rains? What if it’s too windy? What if it’s cold out? (That last one’s not likely if you’re getting married in the Caribbean, but would be a good thing to think about if you’re hoping for a wedding somewhere less tropical!)

Consider having a big tent or pavilion set up outside in case of any sudden showers, or ask your resort/venue if they have an event space that could accommodate you and your guests on the off chance the wedding needs to be moved indoors. Make sure you’re building the cost of these backups into your budget, as well, so you won’t stress if you do end up needing to switch to Plan B.

And speaking of backups…

4. One word: insurance

No ifs, ands, or buts—making sure you’re covered in the event of any unexpected issues or emergencies is a MUST.

I know travel insurance can seem like an annoying extra cost, but think about how much more annoying and expensive it would be to have your flight cancelled with no refund, or your luggage lost on the way to your destination, or to get sick while abroad and need to pay for a hospital visit. Investing a little cash up front in exchange for security and peace of mind is not only a good idea, it would be downright dumb not to (hard truths, folks 🤷).

You might also want to look into event or wedding insurance, which covers things like natural disasters wrecking your venue, vendors letting you down, the loss or damage of “wedding essentials” (your gown, rings, etc.), and personal liability.

Planning and pulling off the perfect destination wedding is a big undertaking, which is why lots of couples prefer to leave all that researching and coordinating in the hands of a travel professional (like yours truly 💁).

If you’re not a fan of the DIY approach, hiring a travel agent who specializes in destination weddings is one of the best ways to minimize your stress and maximize your budget, since an agent will have access to a whole network of resorts, airlines, and vendors that you may not even be aware of.

For my DIY-savvy brides and grooms, keep these tips in mind and you’ll do just fine: be flexible, buy insurance, and be prepared for anything!!

Wishing you blue skies and sunshine on your special day,

Courtnie xo