We love the pretty pictures and the gorgeous wedding features, but we are also realistic. Unexpected things will happen on your wedding day. Things that, no matter how hard to try, you can’t plan for. We have Laura from Blue Canary Events with us today to talk about some of her real-life examples of unexpected, but true, things that can happen on your wedding day.
Photo Credit: Greg Gibson
We all know that some things just don’t go as expected. With a wedding, though, the months and months of careful planning happen so things happen as smoothly as possible. Even with the best wedding vendors and the simplest plans, the wedding day could turn out much differently than you imagine. As wedding coordinators, here are some of the emergencies we’ve handled over the past six years:
#1 The photographer left before the reception started.
The dreaded phone call. The photographer’s mother just passed away. Luckily the photographer’s mom wasn’t in attendance at the wedding (We’ve heard horror stories, though, of guests dropping dead at dinner). Understandably, the photographer’s top priority was being there for his family instead of finishing the job at the wedding. I made some calls, found a last-minute photographer to take his place, and we only missed about 20 minutes of the cocktail hour. Having relationships in place with many different wedding vendors can be a priceless commodity. Imagine if you assigned a bridesmaid to tackle this problem during cocktail hour?
#2 A table broke during dinner.
The evening reception is simply stunning. The glass ceiling is two stories overhead, the lighting gives everything a romantic glow, and the guests are having fun clinking their glasses to encourage the newlyweds to kiss. The salad plates have been cleared away and the dinner plates are being served. I’m observing from the balcony, pleased that everything is going so well. Nearing the end of the meal, I watch it all happen in slow motion. A guest uses the table to help them stand, pressing down with both palms on either side of their plate. The table top slants, the plates start sliding, and the rest of the guests try to get away as quickly as they can. The incredible centerpiece, a beautiful tall glass vase filled with colored water, holding a giant ball of roses, can’t hold on any longer and smashes to the marble floor. Water, glass, plates, food, wine. Everywhere. Windows Catering (thanks to their amazing staff) was there in a second with a broom, mop, and extra napkins. I have never seen a table set so quickly. The broken one was whisked away, a new one brought in, and all the guests were seated again within four minutes. I kid you not! Four minutes. The linen didn’t quite match the others and the centerpiece was long gone, but the guests were all good sports about it and the party went on.
#3 The wedding cake was all wrong.
The bride’s cousin makes really great cakes. “No, really, they’re amazing!” they told us. “She does all the family weddings.” We always try and steer couples away from choosing their friends and family as vendors. Unfortunately for this couple, the cake arrived and was the wrong shape. It was three tiers instead of four. Round instead of square. Vanilla instead of lemon. The pillars that were supposed to hold flowers between the top two layers just didn’t exist. We rearranged the flowers to sit on top of the cake and none of the guests knew there was ever a problem. Since the cake was a gift, there wasn’t much to be done and the couple just had to roll with it. All in all it wasn’t a big deal, but an unexpected surprise that created some unnecessary family drama at the reception.
#5 Four bouquets. Five bridesmaids.
The church looks gorgeous. The groomsmen just arrived and are still figuring out how to tie their bow-ties (We’re letting them try, but are on stand-by if they can’t get them right). The florist just pulled up and is bringing in boxes of pew arrangements. S he passes me the box of bouquets. They’re beautiful, but where’s the last one? “What do you mean?” I have five bridesmaids at this wedding, not four. So, we get out the contract and see that she’s in error. An hour before the wedding begins. The cell phone comes out, the assistants at the shop throw some flowers and supplies in the car, and they build the
last bouquet on their way to the church. They pull up just as the guests are arriving and the bouquet is perfect. If we weren’t there, the florist would have left the box of bouquets on a pew and left the bridal party to figure it out.
Photo Credit: Michael Bonfigli
#6 Red wine. Wedding dress.
It was the bride’s father’s glass. The funny part is that the bride waved her arm and hit the glass out of his hands! The unfunny part is that she had a giant red streak from her waist to the floor. Luckily we had done all the formal portraits and most of the reception traditions, but the wedding cake still needed to be cut and there would be more photos of dancing. The bride and I made a beeline to the ladies’ room with some Shout Wipes, a Tide Stick, and a stick of chalk (all things we keep in our emergency bag). Our job wasn’t perfect, but was enough to mask the stain so it looked more like a shadow. When
it was time to cut the cake we positioned the photographers in a way that the cake was in front of the stain. You can’t see it in any of the remaining photos. Without our emergency bag, she would’ve been rubbing it out with paper towels from the bathroom and seltzer water from the bar.
#7 Extra guests came. 30 of them.
The bride conveniently ‘forgot’ to tell us that 50 of her guests (out of 600 invited) hadn’t bothered to RSVP. Well, 30 of those folks decided to come after all, and expected a place to sit and be fed. The good news is that we were in a hotel where we had the tables, chairs, linens, china, glassware, and flatware to accommodate them. The bad news is that they weren’t prepared to feed those extra people so it meant an extra late dinner and overtime for the kitchen staff. We rearranged the reception timeline with the band so everyone was entertained before dinner, and the families were overjoyed that we fixed the mistake so seamlessly.
#8 The wedding rings were forgotten at home.
In Leesburg, VA. The church was in Arlington, VA. That’s an hour. With no time to send someone to the house and pick up the rings, we asked the bride’s grandparents (with the longest-lasting marriage in the family) to borrow their rings for the service. Grandma’s ring didn’t fit on the bride’s finger but they used them anyway and none of the guests knew there was any issue. It was a special and meaningful solution to the problem, and the grandparents were thrilled that they were useful.
#9 The citronella torches caught the lawn on fire.
The tented reception is going swimmingly. The pie has just been served, the guests are dancing to some Black Eyed Peas, and the dads are bonding over cigars. Life is peachy. Then I look over and see something out of place on the far end of the lawn. FIRE! The citronella torches, staked in the dirt, are somehow dripping fiery oil onto the dry grass. I walk as quickly as possible to the bar (don’t want to draw attention to myself), grab two pitchers of water, take off my cute-but-hard-to-run-in sandals, and take off across the yard. Luckily there wasn’t any damage done, but we kept a very close eye on the
remaining torches the rest of the night.
Of course nobody ever hopes that any of these problems will happen. These are just some stories to show that we can’t prepare for everything. Whether it’s your maid of honor, your mother, or a hired wedding coordinator, be sure you assign somebody to be in charge of any wrinkles that happen on the wedding day. Otherwise, you will be the one who is called in to the kitchen to discuss a problem with the gluten-free meal, receiving the phone calls on your cell phone while you’re having your makeup done, and stepping behind the bandstand to tell the man with the microphone how to pronounce your best man’s name before his toast. Whoever gets that job will be WORKING, so be sure they are okay with avoiding the bar the whole night, being constantly pulled from the dance floor to manage issues, and staying late to help carry boxes of decorations and wedding gifts to the car. If you’re not comfortable asking a family member or friend to do this, a day-of- or month-of- wedding coordinator can be your best ally.
OK, wedding planners and vendors who are out there…what’s your worst horror story? Tell us in the comments. I know you’ve got some to share!
Thank you so much, Laura! You are so right, things never happen as they plan and it is important to designate someone, a planner or someone you trust, to help out. For more from Blue Canary Events or if you are looking for a wedding coordinator, be sure to visit their website and check them out.
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