The first two big decisions you’ll make when planning your destination wedding, are where and when to get married. And if you’re planning a Caribbean destination wedding, hurricane season might be a concern as you choose your wedding date. Last year was one of the worst hurricane seasons we’ve seen in years. Some islands were devastated and my heart goes out to so many lives lost and so much damaged property.
Although you never want to think that it will happen to you, Hurricanes are something you need to think about and be prepared for if you’re planning a destination wedding in the Caribbean. You know what they say….an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why I reached out to Jack Benoff, President of Vacationeeze to find out how he’s dealt with destination weddings and hurricane season in the past. Jack and his team have over 26 years of destination wedding travel experience, so he shared some great advice on how you can protect yourself against the worse case scenario.
My Interview with Jack Benoff:
1. When is hurricane season in the Caribbean?
JB Answer: “Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.”
2. When are hurricanes more likely to hit the Caribbean?
JB Answer: “Although some hurricanes will occur outside the official season, 97 percent of storms take place during this six-month window. Within these dates, the peak months for hurricanes in the Eastern Caribbean are mid-August to mid-September, and from mid-August to early November in the Western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Early- and late-season hurricanes — June and mid- to late-November, respectively — are rare. The Northeast Pacific hurricane season runs from mid-May through late November. It peaks in late August/early September and can affect Mexican locations such as Cabo and Puerto Vallarta.”
3. Since many destination weddings take place at the same time as hurricane season, are there certain things you look for in a resort or destination?
JB Answer: “Yes. When we look for resorts for our clients we always make sure we suggest resorts we know have a flexible wedding team. We also look for resorts that have “plan B” space just in case the weather does not cooperate.”
4. Have you had a hurricane affect any of your client’s weddings?
JB Answer: “It has only happened one time in the past 15 years and it was last year (2017) in Punta Cana. The government decided that the resorts needed to evacuate. 2-3 days before the hurricane hit, the guests were given a choice to either move to another resort on the island or leave and take an earlier flight home. We worked with the resort and the airlines and transfer company to help the bride, groom and each of their guests. At the end of the day, the majority of people moved to a different resort and we were able to work with that resort to host the wedding.”
5. Are there any ways couples can mitigate the risk of a hurricane affecting their wedding?
JB Answer: “We offer “Cancel for any reason” travel protection for all of our guests. This gives them the ability to cancel their travels prior to leaving if they are concerned about a hurricane and get all of their money back. Couples can also contact companies that offer event insurance and weather insurance to insure the events which they are hosting.”
6. Are there destinations that are less likely to be hit by hurricanes?
JB Answer: “Yes, as you head south to the equator to islands such as Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire which are outside of the hurricane belt.”
7. Do any of the couples you work with seem concerned about planning their destination wedding during hurricane season?
JB Answer: “I would say most clients are not concerned, but some do ask about it. We discuss the various destinations and the seasonality of hurricane season. Statistically speaking, the chances of your wedding being affected by a hurricane are very slim.”
8. Do you have any advice for couples who are planning a wedding around hurricane season?
JB Answer: “My advice to my own clients is that there is a very limited chance of a hurricane hitting at the time of the wedding and we advise that they move forward with their dates. As long as we selected a flexible resort, they shouldn’t be concerned.”
9. Are there any resorts that you have worked with during a hurricane that you think have done a good job working around the weather?
JB Answer: “Resorts such as Dreams, Now, Hard Rock, Secrets, Palace, Azul and El Dorado all have done an amazing job for our clients dealing with any weather-related issues. Once the couple arrives at the resort, the wedding coordinator will discuss the “plan B” decision-making process and show the optional sites up front. We had a wedding last year with sunny mornings over a 4-day period and then around 4 pm the skies went dark and it rained all afternoon and evening. The resort and the couple turned outdoor events into indoor events and worked with the décor teams to create amazing events for all the guests.”
10. What other advice to do you have for couples who are concerned about Hurricane season during their destination wedding?
JB Answer: “Don’t let the weather force you to move your dates. Hurricane season also happens to be when the prices at the resorts are on the low side. Work with your travel professional to pick a good resort that has a plan B option. ”
A huge thanks to Jack for sharing his experience and advice regarding this important topic! If you would like to chat with Jack about planning your destination wedding, visit their website at Vacationeeze.com.