In September of 2017, Puerto Rico faced a huge natural disaster: Hurricane Maria. Besides the major devastation and the killing of more than 50 people, the population also had to deal with some other problems as lack of electricity and water. It also brought another huge impact on the island: tourism, which is one of the main sources of income in Puerto Rico, was highly affected. But the country is working hard to improve this situation – and this also applies to the wedding industry.
“Our situation after Hurricane Maria was difficult because of the communication and the power. We could not talk to the customers and let them know what’s going on that time. It’s was very frustrating. For me, communication with my clients is the most important. I managed the situation with a power generator and with a lot of patience. Thank goodness I have the best clients in the world”, says the wedding planner Edith Rodríguez.
The wedding planner Krizia Diaz called it “a total nightmare”. “We couldn’t believe what we were going through in our personal and professional life. We had, in our company, 2 cancellations and some weddings were postponed for 2018. We managed all situations in a timely manner”, she claims.Edith Rodriguez also had 2 cancellation requests but she managed to move the date forward for March and April.
Krizia had to take some extreme measures in order to overcome the situation. “We rapidly contacted all of our clients to let them know our status and that we were available. I was in Mexico at the time, attending to some planning and design conferences. We decided to travel to Florida to have internet & phone access 24/7 to provide the same customer service for all of our clients”, she remembers.
However, many couples have been very supportive of the island’s situation after Hurricane Marian. “They want to stay here and make their dream wedding on our beautiful island”, explains Edith Rodriguez. Also, Krizia contacted some destination clients that were keeping their wedding in Puerto Rico and they are sharing a short video expressing why they have decided to stay and have their wedding on the island.
Support from other vendors after Hurricane Maria
Wedding planner: Krizia Diaz | Photo: Vanessa Velez Photography
Getting together with other suppliers and wedding planners was crucial to recovering from all the damages. “As a wedding planner and designer, it was important because I help others on anything they need for their events like decor material they might have lost on the hurricane or help with the events vice-versa”, claims Edith Rodriguez.
Krizia also agrees: “It was extremely important to have suppliers together! We are the industry! Our mindset in that moment was to recover as fast as we could but doing it in the right way. Always saying the truth to our clients. We are working with many initiatives and at the same time recovering, and staying strong from this bad experience. Thanks to that we have improved dramatically in a lot of areas in our company”.
In order to help the industry to recover from the disaster, Krizia Diaz created this group on Facebook “Rebuilding Our Island & Our Industry”. “The reason I decided to create that group was to be able to share all venues status. I also invited all my clients and vendors to that group so they could share with their clients the status in Puerto Rico too. With that initiative, they could feel less stress and worried. I didn’t want at all that my clients or anyone think that we were not telling the real story and truth about Puerto Rico’s status. The word and loyalty to our client is one of our company’s missions and visions.”, she states.
Puerto Rico’s wedding industry nowadays
Wedding planner: Edith Rodríguez | Photo: Kymberly Del Pilar Photography
Almost two months after the disaster, the country’s situation is much better now. “Most of the hotels have the electricity back and they are working and ready to make the couples happy. We are back to business, working normally. We are beginning to shine like we did before. Our island got hit by a hurricane but the area where most of the people get married is in perfect conditions and has electricity and water. The major damage occurred in the center of the island where most of the poor population is. Puerto Rico is working very hard to help everyone on the island, but the nightlife and hotels are still beautiful as always, as well as the beautiful beaches are in perfect conditions”, ensures Edith Rodriguez.
Krizia Diaz also says that one of the most things that represent Puerto Rico, the greenery, is recovering pretty fast “We love to see our trees and palm trees all bloomed again, the power is almost fixed completely in the touristic areas. Almost all venues are expected to be 100% ready to operate in December. The good thing about this is that the clients will be able to enjoy an almost brand new venue, and clearer views (one of our amazing things in Puerto Rico)”, she concludes.
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First photo credit: Wedding planner: Krizia Diaz | Photo: Pablo Diaz