There is no absolutely foolproof way to have a wedding day devoid of any disaster whatsoever, no matter how meticulously you plan. With so much depending on people—including our favorite unpredictable friend, Mother Nature—you can pretty much plan on something either falling through completely, or some detail getting dinged enough to demand immediate attention. However, there are ways to prepare, to prevent as best you can, and to cultivate a mindset so that when (not if) disasters arise, you’ll handle them with dignity, grace, and as small a headache as possible!
Whether it’s unexpected weather, noisy children at the ceremony, or missing bridal party members, our How-to Guide will get you through and will help you prevent, prepare for, and persevere through almost any surprise your wedding day throws you!
Beauty and the Wedding: What else could go wrong?
The key to avoiding beauty disasters is to run through everything at least a week before the wedding. Book yet one more hair and make-up appointment and take pictures in case someone has to pinch hit because your go-to gal gets sick. Try your dress on 14 days before to see if there’s anything serious that needs altering. Then try it on every single day for the 4 days before your wedding “just in case.” Yes, that sounds excessive but here’s why:
Wedding jitters can take a toll on your weight, but if you put the dress on every day—just enough to button or zip it at the smallest point—if one day it feels a little snug, you’ll know to do a water fast or salads-only for a couple of days, no worries!
Tip: If you don’t want to try on the entire dress itself, then at least slip into the corset, fitted slip, or whatever under-layer of the dress fits most snugly against your body.
On the Day: It’s raining, it’s pouring!
A few days before your wedding, do your research. Check for any storms or other disturbances that may be coming your way, then get prepared. Rent a tent, borrow golf umbrellas to keep you and your wedding party dry, and lay a tarp on the ground where the tent will be. Add a hair dryer—or at least a battery operated personal fan—to your bridal emergency kit to dry off your ‘do. You might also consider more hairspray than already planned if it looks like the wind plans to pick up.
Fun “Disaster” Tip: It can be a gas to get super-creative wedding photos with colorful umbrellas, rain boots, and people standing barefoot in puddles! And how more romantic could it get with a thunderhead as a backdrop and a few raindrops on the lens? Here’s a great resource for wedding umbrellas, both decorative and practical:
At the Ceremony: Who is making all that noise?!
It’s no secret that children will get tired of sitting around for the entire ceremony and probably cause unwanted noise and distraction. To short-circuit this, consider providing your ring bearer and flower girl with toys to take down the aisle. For example, instead of flowers, have the flower girl carry a teddy bear and give the ring bearer a stuffed car or truck with the rings tied to it instead of a pillow. It will look adorable and will keep them occupied while you say your I do’s.
Additionally, before the ceremony begins, assign someone to be in charge of tactfully calling the parents’ attention to any noticeable misbehavior. Also see what you can do regarding placement of guests with small children. For instance, seating them toward the back—or if the children or parents are pivotal in the ceremony, seating directly on the aisle—will help the parents appease the mischief maker via temporary removal if necessary without stepping over too many other guests.
It’s Showtime but: Where is everybody?
No matter how well you schedule the day’s events, there are still human beings involved, so your day may not go off without at least one minor personnel glitch. A majority of these people will be in your wedding party, and despite repeated reminders, it’s possible that one or more will be late to the ceremony. So the day before your wedding, remind everybody one more time exactly what time they are expected to be at the location and if necessary, subtly suggest a time to leave home. Ask one of your bridesmaids or another helper to take responsibility for checking everyone in as early as possible before you walk down the aisle.
If all efforts fail and they’re still nowhere to be seen, either have someone walk unaccompanied, or have a group of three walk together.
At the Reception, Part One: Where are you, people?
It’s standard wedding etiquette now that maps and directions be provided with the invitations. Make sure to include noticeable landmarks, especially if your reception venue is some distance from the ceremony. Take a test drive between the two locations a few days before the big day to make sure there are no roadblocks or detours. If so, print up an alternate route and make sure each guest is offered one, both with the ceremony program and again by someone assigned to stand near the ceremony exit and make sure everyone understands and has a copy of the new plan.
In spite of all this and technology, guests may still lose their way and trickle into your dinner as they will. To maintain a little more order, you can opt for a shuttle service of some kind. Economy options also include subtly arranging convoy parties, carpooling, and providing guests with a “reminder” set of directions just as they leave the ceremony.
At the Reception, Part Two: Who are you people?
Although you’ll ask your guests to RSVP, it is possible that you’ll have some unexpected faces at your reception. To prepare for this, have an extra guest table or two already set up. You could also have a few tables that will seat 10 guests each, then arrange the seating plan to have only 8 or 9 at those tables to make room for surprises. These are easier (and more subtle) options as opposed to having your caterer drag out and set up an entirely new table.
At the Reception, Part Three: We’re out of food?!
Your wedding day may be your day, but you also want your guests to leave smiling as well. The best and easiest way to make them happy is to serve good food, and plenty of it. There are a number of ways to handle this depending on the style you choose. If it’s a sit-down plated dinner, let your guests choose between two—but no more than three—options and indicate as such on the RSVP card. Common practice is to offer 2 options from the standard selections of beef, chicken, fish, and occasionally pork or ham, then have a vegetarian entree “by special request.” If you decide to serve a buffet, plan a wide assortment of dishes that will cater to everyone’s taste.
No matter the style of service, discuss different contingency plans with your food supplier. If no standard options are available, make your own suggestions. Propose having extra food on location to cater to particularly hearty appetites or unexpected mouths to feed. Look for restaurants near your reception area that might quickly provide catering-size portions in a hurry.
Whatever happens on your wedding day, hang in there, hang onto your smile, and remember there is a solution to every problem. Let nothing—but nothing—hold you back from enjoying your wedding day!
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