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Top 5 CDC Emergency Preparedness Tips for Wedding Planning

Some of you may know that before I started working with Joshua on his Chicago wedding photography business, I worked for the Indiana State Department of Health in the Emergency Preparedness Department, and before that at the Monroe County Health Department as the Bioterrorism Coordinator.  I have always been fascinated by the study of infectious disease and I get some serious adrenaline rushes in the face of potential disaster – so much that I was even HAZ-MAT Operations-level certified at one point.   And although I left the bureaucratic mess of state government for a fun and challenging position with Joshua, I try to stay aware of developments in epidemiology and preparedness.  (In fact, I just finished reading “Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC” – an awesome book about the original epidemiological investigations of Ebola, Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, and Lassa Fever in Africa in the 1970s.  Good stuff.)

You can only imagine my extreme amusement when I heard that the Centers for Disease Control and Preparedness – the dream employer in my last profession – recently released a “Wedding Survival Guide” that outlines emergency planning for a wedding in the same way they would outline the general planning for other disaster events.  Some of the recommendations given are definitely tongue-in-cheek, but there are also a few really good tips to consider that you wouldn’t find on The Knot, including:

  • Make sure you know your venue’s Emergency Plans for fire, flood, and tornado, and be aware of evacuation routes
  • Consider including some of your home Emergency Kit items in your Bridal Wedding Day Gear – snacks, water, medications, important documents, extra cash, and a First-Aid Kit.
  • Collect contact info, including phone numbers, for all wedding guests so that you can easily contact them in case of emergency (for example, travel restrictions to venues, changes in wedding day itinerary, etc.)
  • Designate a person to be the wedding ‘Safety Officer’ – a person who is aware of the overall wedding day plan, venue emergency plans, and who can serve as the point person for wedding guests’ questions and concerns.
  • Assess the wedding day plan and develop back-up plans for any potential issue.  Outdoor ceremony and chance of rain?  Make sure you have a tent or an indoor venue on stand-by.

We encountered some pretty ominous-looking clouds at Alison and Adam’s NWI wedding reception last summer, but they thankfully passed by with only a light shower.

If you want to take the integration of emergency preparedness and wedding planning a step further, you could use the Incident Command System – a system that was developed during wildfire response efforts in the 1970s in an effort to more easily coordinate agencies that don’t generally work together.  The Bride and Groom would easily assume the roles of Incident Commander (or Unified Command) with parents, siblings, and bridal party members filling in as Chiefs of Finance/Administration, Logistics, Planning, and Operations.  This system has helped avoid turf wars and miscommunication with emergency responders, and it can certainly help navigate the tricky waters of joining two families together for wedding planning.  But please promise that if you do, that you assign reflective vests and send us pictures.  You can find the full article by the CDC here.

If you are looking for a wedding photographer in Chicago, or Northwest Indiana, to capture the memorable moments at your wedding, and interested in our availability and pricing, please drop us a line using the online inquiry form here.