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Wedded Twist

When planning your nuptials in tropical paradise, keep one uninvited guest in mind: Mother Nature.

Illustration by Donovan Foote

As a television news producer, I had scripted the perfect wedding to my dream guy for Oct. 29, 2011. The thought of getting married on Halloween weekend never scared me… but I sure got a horror story.

I was dead set on having an outdoor wedding at a beautiful historic home in Fort Lauderdale. I envisioned my fiancé and I saying “I do” in the stunning gardens, enjoying cocktails in the artsy courtyard, then feasting and dancing on the banks of the lily pad pond.

Like any outdoor production, weather was a concern. But when I asked the on-site wedding coordinator how many brides had been rained out, she said her venue “was like Disney World—the rain always seemed to miss” them. I suddenly recalled a childhood photo of me in a poncho at Disney, but I dismissed the image.

A quick weather research revealed Oct. 29 for the last few years had been dry and cool, and hurricane season was ending soon. Since I refused to end up in a stuffy ballroom, I settled on a backup tent. I rented the same tent used at my venue for most weddings, so I wasn’t concerned when the forecast called for showers on my big day. After all, how much could it really rain?

Never doubt Mother Nature. Halloween or not, she can be a real scary witch. And I found out in the worst way possible. In retrospect, I wish I consulted someone like Andi Dyal at Anjé Soirées, who says to never underestimate tropical weather, especially at that time of year. “From April 1 until Nov. 31, we plan that it will rain. And we always, always have an indoor backup space. We literally plan two weddings.”

Probably fearing I would jump from my second floor bridal suite as the black clouds descended, the heavens granted us a brief break so we could marry in the gardens. For a moment it looked like a romantic movie set. But just as the gospel choir sang “Oh Happy Day,” the sky opened up and did not stop.

Things really started to sink at the reception. Our tent was no match for the unrelenting rain and sideways drops seeped under the tent. Wedding planner Melissa Davis would have advised me better. “Besides the frame of the tent, you need sidewalls,” she says. “And then you have to discuss putting a floor down, which can get very expensive.” Instead, I sat in my couture gown in a puddle of water and watched as my dance floor turned into a Slip ’N Slide. At one point, I snuck upstairs and got sick to my stomach. My dreams of a perfect wedding were drowning.

The biggest disappointment was paying for an outdoor space that no one enjoyed. I hated being trapped in a tent; we could have been anywhere. But that’s the risk you take with an outdoor ceremony, and you have to know that going into it. If your heart (and stomach) can’t handle it, play it safe with an indoor venue.

Ironically, our guests had a blast! Thanks to experienced vendors, the rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. If you look at my wedding photos, you never would have known how badly it poured. And there was a silver lining: My photographer was kind enough to do another couple’s session a few weeks later. What bride doesn’t want to get dolled up in her gown again?

I learned a valuable lesson. But most importantly, I married the love of my life that day, and no amount of rain can wash that away.