The first I knew of Hurricane Willa was through a welcome text from Jenn (Flora & Fauna Photography) upon landing at Puerto Vallarta Airport. “Have you seen the news?!!”, accompanied by a photo of the news reporter, an image of a huge swirly cloud and the caption “Category 4 Hurricane heading to Mexico’s Pacific coast”. Karen and Calvin’s Destination Wedding at the Hyatt Ziva in Puerto Vallarta was our final event of 2018 and boy was is special.
Hurricane Willa bears down on Peurto Vallarta
My British mentality immediately kicked into top gear. “Oh I’m sure it’s nothing” I thought to myself. A few hours later, after many weather reports analyzed and frantic texts between myself, Jenn and Danielle back home, I was stocked up with supplies: A six pack of Dos Equis, two packs of Ruffles, cookies and instant noodles. Oh and water, of course. Hurricane Willa wasn’t due to hit for another day so we headed to the Hyatt Ziva to meet up with Karen + Calvin. We shot their tea ceremony and some great stormy footage on the beach before having a chat about their wedding.
The intended plan was for the guests to take a boat, out to the ocean and conduct the ceremony & reception at Las Caletas, a private and secluded beach. It was to be the wedding of their dreams and they had poured their hearts and souls into planning, making, designing everything. As the day progressed news came through that the port had been shut down and the wedding would have to be relocated or cancelled completely.
Karen and Calvin remained strong, and together with their planner (Adventure Weddings Mexico) and the co-operation of the Hyatt Ziva, a new ceremony and reception was planned. Hurricane Willa was due to hit the next day and all we could do was wait. That night I walked around the city streets, observing windows being boarded up, sandbags being put in place and a few hotels being evacuated. It was an eerie experience and I couldn’t help but wonder “am I really filming a wedding here tomorrow?”
A Beautiful Beach Destination Wedding at the Hyatt Ziva
Well, the morning was remarkably calm. The news reports stated that the storm had been downgraded and was going to hit the coast 100 miles north of our location. The ocean swell was still pretty huge, but nothing that would affect us too much. I called into the family, let them know all was OK and headed for the hotel to begin our day of filming.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Our favourite weddings are those where a couple just throws themselves into the experience. Karen and Calvin lived every moment of their day, despite the threat of natural disaster. They laughed, cried, poured their hearts out to each other and partied all night at each other’s side. They were still lucky enough to have their destination wedding in a beautiful part of the world and looking back, I can’t imagine they’d change a thing.
Exploring the Rustic Streets of Puerto Vallarta
The next day we all woke up to explore the streets of Puerto Vallarta together. Karen had literally google mapped her way through the city, looking for nice spots for us to shoot in. The city is an instagrammers dream, with cute doorways, stunning vistas and historical buildings everywhere you look. Not only were we able to create an emotionally dynamic film, but we now had the bold visuals to add some contrast to the greyer palate of the previous day.
It was also a great opportunity to just hang out and de-brief from the days events. Karen and Calvin had the best day of their lives and it made us so happy. Things could have turned out so much worse, but everyone came together and made the experience unforgettable. So many small things can go wrong on a wedding day, but it’s not often that a natural disaster threatens an entire wedding, and possibly your life. It makes you realize what is important at a wedding; friends and family. So when you’re planning your wedding remember this: the details are easily forgotten. It’s the faces of the ones you love that you’ll remember. They’ll be by your side your entire life, even during a hurricane.
Destination Wedding hosted by Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta | Photography (including video cover) by Love Flora and Fauna | Styling and Co-ordination by Adventure Weddings Mexico | Makeup & Hair by Karen’s Sister | Dress for Brides for a Cause
We love filming Destination Weddings. If you would like to see more of our work clock HERE