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How to Cope with Wedding Day Catastrophes

Wedding Catastrophes
What to do when disaster strikes
By Hannah Kiefer

Lovely Bride with Mom and the Planner that saved the Wedding

Lovely Bride with Mom and the Planner that saved the Wedding

When you envision your wedding, you see it as the perfect day, right? You want that special day to happen just as planned—everyone will be on time, your bridal party will walk down the aisle without tripping, you’ll remember your vows and so will he, the rings will slip on your fingers with ease, the weather will be beautiful, and everyone will be smiling. Things will go smoothly without a hitch.

But then, it happens.

You get to the reception and to your horror and your groom’s, there are forty extra guests you haven’t invited. They are standing around awkwardly, as all the seats are taken, and the caterers are scrambling in the kitchen to make enough extra food. Your head starts spinning, and you ask your newly-wed husband where in the world these people have come from (heck, you don’t even know them!). He shakes his head and sighs, and looks over at his mother. It is then that you realize, as your head spins even more, that she has invited forty of her own friends without telling either one of you.

So, what do you do if disaster strikes? What do you do if the groom faints? What do you do if there aren’t enough seats for all of your guests? What if your dress store burns down (and, yes, with your dress inside) only a few weeks before the wedding? What if all your guests leave before the reception is over because they didn’t realize there was dancing and they only thought there was a meal provided? (And yes, all of the above are real disasters that have occurred at real weddings.)

How to be prepared

Always have a backup plan. Senior Planner Margaret Moore, at Simple Elegance, advises to always make one. Don’t forget to make a plan B, C, and maybe even D.

Realize, know, and believe that Plan B might happen. The sooner you come to terms with this, the easier it will be if you have to resort to second plans. As Margaret says, “You can’t think it will never happen.”

Always have a wingman. Whether she, or he, is your planner, your maid of honor, your mother, or your sister, always have someone who’s going to be there for you when disaster strikes.

3 things to keep in mind when things go wrong

1. Remain calm. Don’t panic. Okay, well, go ahead and panic, but only for a few minutes (depending on the disaster). Then, take a deep breath, count to ten, and start thinking of solutions.

2. Remember this is not a perfect world. Stuff happens, right?

3. Everything happens for a reason. Life is full of lessons and opportunities to grow—to learn patience, strength, and perspective.

Senior Planner Margaret Moore’s experience with wedding disasters

As a Senior Planner at Simple Elegance, Margaret has had her fair share of encounters with unwelcome wedding dilemmas. Once, at a September, outdoor wedding, it rained during the ceremony, and even the back-up plan fell through! “The ground was too wet to hold the pins in place for the tent,” she says. At another wedding, there was trouble with a contract. The bride had signed a contract to rent out a mansion for $2500 at six hours, but when it came down to it, she needed around ten! She ended up getting charged $250 per hour for every hour over.

At Simple Elegance, we do everything we can to handle and solve any problems that come up at our weddings. At the September wedding, when the bride burst into tears at realizing she’d have to follow her next backup plan—having the ceremony indoors—Margaret said her heart broke. “She didn’t want the ceremony to be in the reception area, she wanted it special,” she says. “I promised her not to worry, and that we would find a place.”

And she did! “We had a little over 24 hours to find a place to hold the rehearsal and then the ceremony the next day,” says Margaret. “I called every place in town; nothing. I begged; nothing. Then, I remembered Wesleyan—my couple were alumni. IWU at first was hesitant. They don’t like to book the ballroom during the school year, but I pleaded our case. They finally agreed and gave us four hours to set up, have the ceremony, and tear down. We hustled, but our bride was happy and that is all that mattered. We scrambled to contact all the guests and ran off in all directions to and from the new ceremony. Our assistants stood out in the rain at the original ceremony venue just in case we might have missed a guest. It was a long day, but it was worth seeing Lindsey smile.”

The advantages of having a planner

• Planners have experience. Confusing contracts? No place to host that rained-out wedding? A planner knows the ropes and can make things happen.

• Planners man the ship when it starts to sink, and can keep you from seeing the dangerous waves below. As Margaret did at the September wedding, a planner can take care of the crisis while only giving the bride necessary information, relieving her of stress.

• Planners can keep an objective perspective. “Weddings are an emotional roller coaster for brides and their families,” says Margaret. “We can see what needs to be done without all the emotions. Staying calm helps one to see clearly through the forest and the trees and navigate through them.”

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2011 Hannah Kiefer,
Want to use this article in your E-zine or website? You can as long as you include this complete statement: Event Planning entrepreneur Hannah Kiefer with Simple Elegance Events and Wedding Designs publishes this weekly e-zine. Get your FREE “My Dream Wedding without the Nightmare” at

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