If rain on your wedding day is good luck, then a hurricane must be like hitting the lotto. At least, that’s what I told myself four days before my wedding, as the cable news stations predicted that Hermine, a Category 3 storm, was heading straight towards us. That Sunday, 50 guests from across the world would converge on New York City for my nuptials. My fiancé Arran and I had chosen Labor Day weekend specifically for its nearly guaranteed good weather. Now, as we watched the news, we crossed our fingers and hoped the storm would weaken or change course. Instead, by that Saturday morning, the storm had strengthened. Meteorologists were preparing New York City for a “worst-case scenario.” Having wasted time with wishful thinking, my husband-to-be and I had no back up plan. Whatever happened, Arran and I promised one another, it would be okay. Still, a hurricane on my wedding day was not what I’d imagined. In the beginning of the planning process, Arran and I handled setbacks with good humor. When we couldn’t afford the Hamptons destination wedding we’d both intuitively imagined, we came up with the perfect Plan B. We were having brunch after perusing the farmer’s market over Memorial Day weekend when it suddenly seemed obvious. Amidst booths bursting with locally grown flowers, fruits, and vegetables, the city bustling around us, one of us said to the other: “Why don’t we get married here in New York?” And so it was settled. We met with Dunja, the events coordinator at the Pavilion, a market café conveniently located smack dab in the middle of Union Square Park. Our vision: a festive four-course dinner with our family and closest friends in the middle of our beloved city, alfresco under the stars. When we found out we couldn’t afford to hold our ceremony at the restaurant, we rented a local community garden down the street. We spent the next four months planning the boho-chic wedding of our dreams, with a modest budget. I made a ribbon curtain for our back drop. We rented a vintage runner from a local prop shop (a splurge). My dress came off the sale rack at Anthropologie. When I couldn’t afford a florists’ flower crown, I compromised and made my own.
I was an easygoing bride, I thought. Still, some things were non-negotiable. I wanted a fabulous honeymoon suite, for example — somewhere full of style, conveniently located, and big enough that it could double as a place to get ready before the ceremony. Two nights at the Bowery Hotel cost more than both our wedding rings combined, but it meant I’d spend the morning leisurely getting ready, surrounded by friends. It was also close to another community garden where Arran and I could have our “first look.” Good weather was another must. I never even considered the alternative. I know, most couples have contingency plans. The Pavilion had a covered area which we agreed we’d use for the reception if it were to rain, but it wasn’t in the contract and I never actually envisioned having to do this. Also, its open sides would not be enough to keep us dry in the case of — oh, I don’t know — a hurricane. By the time I started hearing about Hermine, it was already heading up the east coast, straight towards us. The day before the wedding, the garden cancelled due to the risk of high winds. It wasn’t raining at the moment, but skies were overcast and the wind smelled of the sea. It was, I thought humorlessly, the calm before the storm. I emailed Dunja at the Pavilion. “Don’t worry,” read her quick reply. The Pavilion would host our ceremony in addition to the reception, but the logistics were unclear. I would just have to trust. As a bride, you are constantly being told that, at some point, you have to let go of the little things. In the beginning, Arran and I promised one another we’d keep it easy. Truth be told, it was never easy. From finding the “perfect” cake topper to picking out place cards, not to mention dealing with out-of-town guests, planning a wedding had sucked. The morning we found out about the hurricane, I’d been obsessing over fonts. Now, none of that even mattered.
With 24 hours to go, I reached out to alternative venues, just in case. We met with Dunja, my new best friend. We scrapped anything unimportant that hadn’t been done. Gone were concerns about exact timelines and the overall “flow of the day.” We held our rehearsal at my mom’s Airbnb, still unsure exactly where the ceremony would take place. Around ten o-clock the night before, we sent an email updating guests. In the end, we had no choice but to roll with it, and accept that we couldn't control everything. And guess what: Our impromptu wedding was even better than the one we’d originally planned. Instead of having our “first look” in a local community garden, the hotel generously allowed us to use their opulent event space. Rather than having a wedding ceremony in one location and our reception in another, we held both at the Pavilion. It was an option that had been prohibitively expensive, now offered for free due to the expected downpour. This meant exchanging vows right there in Union Square, under the gaze of what felt like an entire city. Had I anticipated this scenario in advance, I would have worried over every potential pitfall (uh, hello, heckling spectators). As it was, we simply showed up. We showed up, under blue skies, and the day was spectacular. Looking back, the unpredictability of it all only contributed to the excitement of the day. Oh, and after all that, it didn’t even rain.