In the shadow of Hurricane Irma, a Florida-native couple charged ahead with their wedding. “Tuesday was an emotional roller coaster,” said bride Jessie Weir to USA Today. “But this was going [to] happen. There was no question about that.”
Outdoor weddings can be difficult to plan what with the unpredictable nature of weather, but destination weddings are all too challenging to reschedule.
Jessie Weir and Christopher Chouinard had planned their destination wedding well in advance at Vero Beach. Up to 140 guests from 18 states were scheduled to attend.
Yet as Hurricane Irma grew from a tropical storm on the weather maps to a Category 5 hurricane heading for Cuba, Puerto Rico, and finally Florida, it seemed the wedding would need to be canceled.
The couple’s reception venue closed and guests’ flights were canceled. But in spite of the impending damage of the storm, Weir and Chouinard hastily salvaged their Plan B ceremony. On Friday, September 8, the couple said their vows at St. Helen’s Catholic Church in front of 30 guests.
Despite the change of the couple’s original wedding date and multiple cancellations, the Chouinards were incredibly fortunate. The strength of the incoming hurricane caused thousands of events to close down and cancel including weddings.
Vendors coming from states further away were forced to cancel including caterers, wedding photographers, and florists. And while lilacs may be a popular wedding flower, they wouldn’t fare well in the tropical gusts of Hurricane Irma.
Ashley Atkinson and Daniel Dillman were just one of those couples whose fairytale weddings didn’t have quite a happy ending. The Ohio-native couple had planned to be married on Saturday, September 9 in Cocoa Beach.
But as Hurricane Irma approached, flights were canceled. And finally the Florida beaches were evacuated that same Saturday.
“We felt very crushed,” said Dillman. “We were focused on going down to Florida and beating the hurricane anyway. It would’ve been a fantastic story to be able to pass down to friends and family in Ohio.”
While up to 75% of American brides receive an engagement ring made from gold, many simply want a successful wedding ceremony. The couple said they may attempt to have their ceremony again in Cocoa Beach at a later date. But for the time being, they may be saying their vows in Amelia, Ohio.
Fortunately for the Chouinards, their Plan B ceremony worked out in their favor. Even the couple’s wedding photographer was able to make it to the ceremony.
“I just didn’t have the heart to say ‘Sorry, I can’t make it’,” said Kati Rosado. Rosado has been a professional wedding photographer for seven years and although she had thought about evacuating for Hurricane Irma, she couldn’t bring herself to leave the Chouinards.
“A wedding is such a special day,” Rosado said, “and it’s the only chance to capture those moments.”
Photo: Kati Rosado