A successful wedding is all about good planning and execution. It takes months to plan most weddings, but even the most painstaking preparation can’t account for all of the things that could possibly happen. With so many variables to consider, it’s important to think about how you will react if something doesn’t go right on your wedding day. Here are some tips for how to avoid a wedding disaster.
Have a “Plan B”
The only thing worse than a wedding-day disaster is not knowing what to do when disaster strikes. On your wedding day, you are the center of attention, so if something goes wrong, people will look to you for how cues on how to react. The best advice we can give you is to have a backup plan in place well before your wedding day. Start by identifying the likeliest “wedding disaster” scenarios, and then figure out how you can make sure they don’t ruin your day. For example—if your wedding is outdoors, how will you handle a storm? What will you do if unexpected guests arrive? Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a wedding disaster, but having a go-to contingency plan will make life easier if something should happen. Discuss possibilities with your wedding planner, venue, etc. Tell these key people how to handle the likeliest problems that you could encounter. That way the pressure is off of you.
True Wedding Disaster Story:
We had planned our wedding at a winery for a Fall weekend in October. The ceremony was going to be outside in the vineyard, and the reception was to be held in a large tent that we rented from an event company. It rained for 4 days straight the week of our wedding. The area of the vineyard where we were going to have the ceremony was actually submerged under several inches of water. We got so much rain that even the area under the reception tent was too wet to walk on. We panicked because there was no backup plan for this type of thing. We spoke with the venue’s staff an were able to move the ceremony to a different location (still outside, but with better drainage). The venue was in the process of building a large outbuilding, but the area was still under construction. It was basically a roof, walls (with exposed fiberglass insulation) and a concrete floor. We had no other choice but to use this building to host our reception. It wasn’t pretty, but it was dry. We recruited some family and friends to hang up strands of lights and drape the walls in white tablecloths to cover up the insulation. We decided that we were just going to embrace the “barn wedding” idea and go with it. While it wasn’t the wedding we had planned, we still had an awesome time. Seeing our family and friends pull together to help us out reinforced the fact that it didn’t matter where we got married or how pretty it looked. What mattered was being together with the people we love.
Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Weddings are emotionally charged events. You’ll be excited, nervous, and often you’ll experience stress leading up to the wedding and also on the day of the event. When things don’t go as planned, and you’ve got a recipe for a melt down. Having a wedding day disaster can put you on an emotional roller coaster. At first, you may find yourself going through the 5 emotions stages of grief:
- Denial – “This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening.”
- Anger – “I am so upset that this happened on my wedding day!”
- Bargaining – “If only I had done things differently.”
- Depression – “Everything is ruined and I am so disappointed.”
- Acceptance – “I can’t change what is out of my control. The wedding must go on”
It’s how you choose to react that could save the day or ruin it completely. Prepare mentally for the possibility that something could go wrong, and try not to get wrapped up in all of the details. If possible, delegate wedding day decisions to a bridesmaid, groomsman, or other support personnel so that you can focus on getting married. If you are having to make decisions on the wedding day, you’re putting yourself in a stressful situation.
Give Guests the Right Information
One of the challenges of hosting a wedding is that you have so many people arriving from all over the place. Many of your guests will not know the area, and may have questions about where they need to go, and how to get there. Set up a website with an itinerary for the wedding weekend. Make sure guests know where to find the right information. Also, designate someone as the primary contact for any guests with questions. It’s a good idea to have a list of emergency contacts in case something goes wrong or plans need to be changed.
True Wedding Disaster Story:
I attended a wedding where the couple had specified two different times for the wedding ceremony. The paper invitation that went out to guests said the wedding was at 4:00pm. But the couple’s wedding website listed the start time as 4:30pm (4pm was the actual ceremony time). As a result, many guests missed the ceremony completely. It was embarrassing for the guests and for the couple who realized their mistake after it was too late.
Keep It Simple
Your wedding can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. But more moving parts means more possibility that something could go wrong. There are lots of little details that can make a wedding seem special, but don’t let these details get in the way of the important stuff. Nail down the basics first, and make sure those are in place before you start thinking about the finishing touches.
In weddings—as in life—things don’t always go according to plan. It’s how we deal with adversity that defines who we are. Having things go wrong on your wedding day can be devastating, but if you are prepared emotionally, and you have a plan to fall back on, you can handle the situation with grace and still have a great wedding.