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Wedding Season Meets Wildfire Season - What to Know

Published Thursday, Jul. 22nd, 2021


Will more weddings be postponed or cancelled because of wildfires? Here's what you should know this wildfire season.

 

 

 

No one wants to consider the possibility of a natural disaster on their wedding day… Your day should be pure joy, filled with laughter, love, friends and family, and the promise of a bright future! 

 

Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always follow the plan. As wildfire season heats up across the country, it’s important to know how to prepare and how to respond if smoke, road closures, venue changes, or other fire-related emergencies interrupt your ceremony. 

 

Whether you’re planning a wedding, officiating a summer celebration, or have been invited to attend one as a guest, here are a few essential tips to keep in mind during this year’s wildfire season. 

 


1. Purchase wedding insurance

 

Wedding insurance can reimburse you for deposits and fees paid to vendors when unexpected damage, cancellations, or postponements happen, including if a venue is closed due to smoke or fire damage ahead of the ceremony. Not all wedding insurance plans cover the same mishaps, so talk with an agent to make sure you choose a plan that fits your needs.

 


2. Arrange a backup officiant

 

Wildfires sometimes result in road closures, detours, and localized evacuations -- all unfortunate events that can cause an otherwise-prompt wedding officiant to arrive late, or to not make it to the venue at all. Make sure a friend or relative in your wedding party is ordained (they can get ordained easily online), in case they need to step in to officiate and sign your marriage license. 

 


3. Outdoors? Bring masks for yourself and guests

 

Poor air quality and smoke accumulation are frequent seasonal concerns, even in areas that aren’t at risk of wildfires themselves. Smoke can travel in the upper atmosphere for hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of miles, and stick around for days. If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony somewhere smoke might linger, order masks for yourself and your guests to wear during your ceremony. 


Check the air quality rating in your area using AirNow.gov.

 

 

image of a bride and groom wearing masks outdoors in wedding clothing, while a wildfire fills the sky with orange and yellow smoke behind them

Katie and Curtis Ferland, posing during their wedding in Sonoma County in 2019,

Credit: Karna Roa of KMR Photography

 


4. Indoors? Buy an air purifier 

 

Air purifiers help pull smoke particulates from the air, greatly improving indoor air quality in places with mild to moderate smoke concentrations. If you’re planning a small wedding indoors, look into portable air purifiers with HEPA filters, which can reduce particle concentrations by up to 85%. 

 


5. Check in with older guests and those with health problems

 

Smoke inhalation is dangerous for everyone, but can affect elderly guests and those with respiratory and other health problems more quickly. Smoke can also trap heat, creating uncomfortable summer conditions. Remember that smoke levels affect everyone differently, and check in with your guests often to make sure they’re feeling ok. 

 


6. Check for alternate routes into and out of your venue

 

As mentioned earlier, wildfires sometimes lead to road closures and detours. Make sure there are alternate routes to your destination if you’re heading to a venue nearby a forested or brush-filled area, especially a remote location (such as a national park, outdoor recreation area or resort, farm, or rural community). 

 

 

Dark silhouettes of trees are visible through dense smoke or fog, colored yellow and orange

 


4. Have a backup venue and date in mind

 

In a few rare instances, the worst-case scenario will happen, forcing you to postpone your ceremony or choose another venue. This can happen when an area is put under an evacuation watch, an actual evacuation order, or when a venue’s damaged by smoke or fire. Preparing ahead of time with a backup venue and date can help lessen the disappointment. Consider planning a casual backup ceremony at a friend’s house... Just in case.

 


8. Smoke will show up in your wedding photos

 

Remember that wildfire smoke will show up in your wedding photos -- more or less depending on how thick it gets. This isn’t a deal breaker for everyone (and some photographers actually love the hazy pink and yellow hues of wildfire smoke) but it might be one for you. If so, take photos indoors, or plan outdoor photoshoots for a less smoky time.

 

 

A bride and groom smile and embrace each other in their wedding clothes as the sky behind them is filled with dense wildfire smoke

This couple's wedding at Black Butte Ranch in central Oregon

was filled with wildfire smoke, giving their photos a dramatic pink hue.

Credit: Gina Paulson Photography

 

 

9. Keep an eye on local evacuation orders

 

Conditions can change in a matter of minutes in areas close to active fires. Ask your day-of coordinator or someone in your wedding party to keep a close watch on local evacuation orders if you’re in a high-risk area, so you’ll know right away if you need to leave. As an added safety measure, plan a safe place to rejoin friends and family after evacuating. 

 


10. Don’t push your luck

 

Remember, wildfires can move fast. Don’t push your luck! If someone tells you it's time to go, go. Let this story of a stubborn bride and groom be your cautionary tale. 


See the location of current wildfires using this Fire and Smoke Map.

 

 

 

Remember! The only thing fiery on your wedding day should be your passion…


When is ‘wildfire season’? 


Wildfires usually become more frequent and widespread during the summer and fall seasons -- July through September -- as rainfall decreases and daily temperatures rise. As climate change continues, this season becomes longer and the effects of wildfires on our communities increase. 

 


 

You might also like: 

 

Summer Survival: 10 Items to Add to Your Officiant Wedding Emergency Kit This Season

 

Vaccines and Weddings -- What officiants and couples can expect this summer
 

Plan & Officiate a Summer Solstice Wedding with Handfasting & Honey Wine Toast

 

A Simple Handfasting Ceremony Script (Sample Wedding Script)
 


 


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