I often get asked by prospective brides or others curious about wedding planning, what is the most unusual or challenging situation I have experienced as a wedding planner. I have to say that all of my previous "challenging" experiences pale in comparison to the wedding I recently coordinated on a day that will forever be remembered as Tsunami Wedding 2010. I had heard about the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile the night before but I wasn't aware of the pending Tsunami alert for the Hawaiian Islands until I heard the civil defense warning sirens at 6am Saturday morning. After years of training as a child and after living through hurricanes, the first thing I did was turn on the news and fire up my computer. Sure enough Hawaii was in preparation mode for a Tsunami and I had a bride staying at a beach house, her groom and guests in hotels in Waikiki and their beach wedding followed by a beach front estate reception scheduled to begin at 3pm. A quick phone call confirmed that all beaches were closed. A call to the caterer confirmed that they were shutting down and everyone was headed home. I wasn't able to get in touch with the bride and groom because of high call volume but we were able to text. The first thing I did was find an evacuation center for the bride and her family and reassure her that everyone staying in Waikiki would be taken care of by the hotels management. Then I got on the phone and by 7am all of the vendors scheduled to take part in the wedding had been rescheduled for the next day. Just to back up a bit. Normally tent and rental delivery occurs on the day of the wedding but this was an unusual situation and the tent had been put up and all of the tables and linens delivered and were waiting for us. Thankfully the venue was available for Sunday so I went about my day with a watchful eye on the news and a saddened heart for the couple that would have to postpone their wedding. As the time came and went for the first tsunami surge to impact the island without the anticipated 6ft wave, my bride text messaged me and asked if there was anyway that the wedding could still occur.I let her know that the beaches were closed, the warning was still in effect and the roads were closed making it impossible. I did suggest a morning wedding so her guests that had scheduled to leave the island on Sunday could be there. By 3pm it was apparent that Hawaii was spared from a destructive tsunami and the roads opened up just in time for me to head to the airport to pick up my daughter who was flying back home for a spring break visit. As I approached the baggage claim, I received a call from the groom letting me know that the bride was understandable distraught and was there anyway that we could still have the wedding. I hung up the phone and knew that I had to find a way to make this wedding happen. As soon as my daughter got into the car, I handed her my phone and she became by assistant dialing vendors and putting them on speaker phone. The first vendor I contacted was the officiant. The only way they were getting married was if we could make sure that the officiant or any officiant was available. I left a message and called a backup just in case. A return phone call confirmed that we had an officiant. Then I called the transportation company that had been scheduled to transport all 60 guests to the wedding ceremony. After leaving a message I called a valet service and after still another message I called the ceremony musician and the DJ. Twenty minutes later I was at the grocery store buying a cake and flowers while my daughter scooped up paper plates , cups and napkins. A quick trip to order food from a local restaurant, more final phone calls and a quick trip home to change and load up my car and we were off.
It's one thing to show up and be there to oversee a wedding but that's not what we do nor what we had planned on doing. For this wedding I had originally scheduled a staff of four to oversee the setup which included setting up our rental vases all along the 8' tables with various heights of candles and a sprinkling of orchids.
We also were scheduled to setup a dessert buffet, tie name cards on napkins and numerous other tasks. With lightning speed we dashed about, propped, folded, arranged and 1-1/2 hours after the call from the groom came in, we had a beautiful wedding ceremony and reception.
These pictures were taken while the water was still slowly surging on shore. You never know when you'll need a surfboard.A beautiful ending to an amazing wedding. I have deep gratitude for all of the amazing wedding vendors that came together to make Erik and Megan's wedding memorable. That's what we do in Hawaii!
Venue-Justin and Tommy at the Oceanfront Oasis
And my wonderful family that jumped in and became my staff for the day.