Aunt Irma & Uncle Jose, You were not invited to this wedding!
When I had my 1st consultation call with Amanda (The Bride) and Bryan (The Groom) last July, I was beyond excited at the possibility to book their Destination Wedding in a new location for us: Dominican Republic.
At the time of our call, the couple was based in Wisconsin and we are in Texas. (The majority of our destination wedding couples come to us from other states and we meet for the 1st time in paradise!) This is where people always ask, but how did they find you!? I believe they found us online through an email I sent to couples in the Destination Wedding planning process.
They responded to my initial email and we exchanged several emails back and forth, but this call was our 1st time to meet. Jacob and I were on our way to Boomerjacks to eat dinner during the time of the call. I remember, we had arrived at the restaurant, so I was sitting in my car in the parking lot explaining how it all works, answering all their questions and hoping that they would want to move forward and book a package. And they did!
We worked out all the details for the photography contract, they signed it and we were official. Amanda and Bryan are a dream couple to work with because they know what they want, are easy going and very detail oriented. They asked amazing questions which helps me to understand what their concerns are and address them.
The next step in a destination wedding is working with the travel agent to get hotel arrangements confirmed. I specifically remember the bride was emphatic about getting insurance and understanding the part of the contract regarding attendance. I actually went back through my emails for this blog and this is exactly what she said,
"Please get travel insurance. We are having this wedding during the "storm" season so on the very rare chance that the weather is bad..."
On the very rare chance.... Yep that's where we are right now. The rarest of chances has turned in the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic ocean with a 2nd hurricane right on it's heels!
I pretty much watched TV all Labor Day weekend seeing the destruction that Hurricane Harvey did to my state. During the coverage, someone mentioned Irma. Who is Irma? Uh oh....
Guests were scheduled to arrive from Tuesday before the wedding through Friday. During Labor Day weekend, all of those attending were starting to watch the forecast for this hurricane. The reactions ranged from the bride posting a gif of Lt Dan for Forrest Gump fighting the hurricane on the Facebook group for the wedding (See..so detailed!) to people telling them not to go.
By Monday, the flight on Wednesday for the bride and groom was cancelled as well as several of the guests. We were not scheduled until Friday, but with connections in and out of Miami, I was starting to sweat too.
My worst fear is that everyone else could make it to the wedding and since we were the only ones going through Miami, we would get stuck. I never want to have to work through my attendance clause in the contract!
So, I waited and waited for American Airlines to issue a travel alert on Punta Cana. I was refreshing that page literally every minute as well as The Weather Channel's hurricane tracker which is awesome.
Finally, on Tuesday morning, the travel alert was issued and we were able to adjust our connecting city to Charlotte, NC with no change fee. The bride and groom could not arrive earlier, so they had to delay their arrival until Friday. Lo and behold, our new flight to Punta Cana is the same as theirs! WIN!
Several of the guests left early on Tuesday to make sure they would get there before the airport closed. Yesterday, they reported perfect beach weather and without modern weather technology, they'd have no idea a Cat 5 hurricane is less than 500 miles away. Today, the guests who arrived early were told by the staff at Dreams Punta Cana that the guests would be evacuated to a shelter near Higuey for the next 24-48 hours as a precaution. Just found out, that many people are now moving to a shelter in Santo Domingo that is 2.5 hrs away from the resort since the closer one was full.
Rosanne, one of the wedding guests, riding out the storm in Higuey hurricane shelter.
Inside the Higuey, Dominican Republic Hurricane shelter
As of now, the Dominican Republic is not expecting a direct hit, but even a side swipe by this monster storm could bring damage. Luckily, we are no longer flying home on Monday through Miami which appears to be the day of Hurricane Irma sweeps through Florida.
Thanks to our travel agent Adeline at DestinationWeddings.com for all her help in getting all of our travel changed at the last minute!
Monday's forecast looks interesting, Hurricane Irma on the left and possibly Hurricane Jose on the right.
Just hoping American Airlines can thread that needle back to Charlotte. We will see... This adventure story is just beginning for us on Friday.... I'm hoping that the aftermath of the Hurricane will make for the bluest skies we have even seen and we can get some amazing pictures.