When a wedding day goes wrong (and how to deal with it)
Wedding days ‘gone wrong’ are a staple of romantic comedies, sitcoms and reality TV. That’s because it’s a high pressure day that you know you’ll remember forever. It’s meant to be the happiest day of your life, so when it goes wrong, it’s dramatic.
Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best won’t cut it. If you want to minimise the chances of a wedding day disaster, you’ll need to be prepared. And if it all goes wrong, even though you prepared, you’ll need to keep your head.
A quick story to start
One of my university lecturers, Sally, was punched in the face on her wedding day. It wasn’t the result of any kind of argument – as she exited the church, a woman with a passionate dislike for brides (and clearly some anger issues) just happened to be passing. And upon seeing Sally, she decided to give her a swift right-hook to the face.
There are few worse things that could happen on your wedding day. But this story’s notable for two reasons:
- No matter how well you plan your wedding, there’s always the possibility that an act of sheer randomness can scupper your big day. You just have to be prepared, think on your feet and make the best of it.
- Sally absolutely made the best of it. She got up, brushed herself down and carried on with her wedding day. She later wrote about her experience in The Guardian, which boosted her career as a freelance journalist. And she’ll always have a unique story to tell about her wedding.So what’s the worst that could happen?
There’s plenty that can go wrong. Let’s start with a common one:
You spill something on the dress
Firstly, don’t panic.
There’s loads of great advice out there for how to quickly get rid of (or conceal) stains on a wedding dress. But it always depends on the dress and the spillage.
Get one of your wedding party to have a thorough Google and formulate plans in advance. Think about all the spill-able substances you’ll be around on the day (red wine’s always the biggest threat), and research how to deal with it.
So, if the worst happens, you won’t be frantically running around and Googling ways to remove stains or relying on your mum’s ‘traditional’ but questionable methods. You’ll just have to grab whoever you delegated the Googling to and say, “I’ve spilled X on my dress – what’s the plan?”
One of your vendors doesn’t show up
Firstly, let’s look at how to prevent it. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for hiring a vendor with a dodgy rep. Do your research, check the reviews and make sure you’re booking someone who’s left a trail of happy newlyweds in their wake.
And then, make sure you’re communicative on the day. Call at roughly 9am to check they’re on time, they know where they’re going and they have no problems.
If the worst thing happens and they have to cancel due to a pure ‘act of god’, there’s still ways out of the problem. Keep a hold of the contact details for your second and third choice photographer, caterer, etc. – they might be able to sub in at the last minute.
This is one of those scenarios where you’ll need a sense of humour. If you totally freak out and declare your day ruined, there’s no way back. But imagine telling your grandkids your caterer bailed at the last minute and you ordered 30 pepperoni pizzas to be delivered to your reception. That sounds pretty good to us.
The weather’s horrendous
There’s good news and bad news for this one. Bad news: it’s totally unavoidable. Good news: it easy to see it coming, so you can always prepare for it.
By keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, you can get a good idea of what’s a realistic threat, and plan accordingly. Again, don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best. If there’s a chance of rain, have plenty of umbrellas on standby (like these £3 ones from IKEA) and tell guests to have wellies at the ready. Speak to the reception venue and make sure there’s an outside area that’s covered – smokers will be especially thankful. (If you have a relaxed approach to smoking, that is.)
Also, look at the positive sides of inclement weather. Perfect example: it’s cosy. Plan for ways to make your reception more suited to it. Think about lighting and music and ways you can embrace the weather to make your wedding feel more special.
A massive argument breaks out
Weddings (plus booze) can bring deep-seated tensions to the boil. So make sure you have a plan.
The last thing you want is for a big bust-up to kick off in the middle of the reception and have everyone watching in stunned silence. So it’s a good idea to brief the groomsman on how to react. You can rely on the staff at your reception venue, but it’s generally better to get members of the wedding party to intervene – they know who they’re dealing with.
Firstly, remove everyone involved from the room. Make sure the groomsman know they’re on conflict lookout, so they’re the first to react. They step in, escort the antagonists out of the room, then deal with all the details away from the rest of the guests.
As the bride or groom, don’t be scared to pull rank. No one wants to be known as the friend or family member who ruined the wedding reception, so weaponise the magic words: “this is my day – if you love me, you’ll let it go.”
A totally random, unforeseeable problem arises
When fate conspires against you, all you can do is think on your feet. You can’t have every single base covered (just ask Sally), but you can have a little emergency kit to hand, for one of the wedding party to dive into at short notice. So fill it with problem-solving items that are light, cheap and versatile. Such as:
- A first aid kit
- A sewing kit
- A decent amount of cash
- Double-sided tape
- Black bin bags
- Bottled water
- Notepad and pen
If you’re a member of the wedding party, take a second to imagine a scenario where a totally bizarre occurrence threatens the entire event, but you were the genius whose little emergency kit happened to have the exact item that saved the day. The story will never get old and you’ll be hailed as a hero for years to come.
Do you have any horror stories or hero stories from a wedding gone wrong? Let us know in the comments.
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