Picture it: You've waited your whole life for your perfect wedding day. Your vows are written, and all of the details are planned with care, precision and love. Finally, after months of planning and years of dreaming, the time has come for you and your Prince Charming to declare your eternal commitment to each other and ride off into the sunset in the horse-drawn carriage that you reserved months in advance.
And then the horse dies.
Such an incident is one of the many unexpected, ridiculous and frenzy-inducing issues that brides face every single day. Joy Braas, of Nashville, Tenn., was helping her sister prepare for her wedding day when they received an unexpected call.
"My sister reserved a horse and carriage to take them from the wedding to the reception," explains Joy. "About two days from the wedding, we got a call that the horse died! We scrambled and found a limo that was available, got a driver that was a friend of the family, and it was OK, but not quite the same!"
Joy and her sister were levelheaded enough to make do with an unfortunate situation, rather than having a well-earned panic attack. As sad as we are for the horse and its owners, much more catastrophic events (quite literally, in some cases) could've occurred.
We've got 10 worst-case wedding scenarios -- and a few handy hints on how to manage them.
10: Transportation Trauma
Don't be too smug or complacent about your transportation security just because it doesn't involve a horse. Plenty of other transportation issues can crop up in the time it takes to find a cab service on your iPhone. Your limo driver could show up drunk in a pink Winnebago, rather than the classy stretch limo you ordered. Even worse, he might not show up at all, leaving you to hitch a ride to your lavish reception in Grandma's clunker. In case you think these scenarios are off-the-wall and unlikely, consider the plight of poor Danielle Hobbs of Bristow, Va.
"The trolley we hired to carry the wedding party to the reception hit my car," laments Danielle. The bride and her bridesmaids were getting ready to walk down the aisle when they saw the crash. "It knocked the mirror clean off the car!" Danielle said.
It's not ideal if your ride is late or falls through altogether, but you're surrounded by plenty of people with working vehicles, so it's not the end of the world. If you're unlucky enough to be a party to a transportation accident of some sort, be thankful that no one's hurt, exchange insurance information, and get on with your night like nothing happened.
9: Floral Flop
Flowers are moody little things. They require just the right amount of light and water and the perfect temperature to remain fresh and lovely from the time they're arranged to the time your ceremony begins. Since they're certainly not cheap to come by, many brides are opting to order them online and have them shipped immediately prior to their weddings.
Removing the florist from the equation can spell big trouble for your blooms if you're not extra careful. Susan Garcia of Atlanta learned that lesson the hard way when she and her helpers unpacked her wedding flowers the day before the ceremony.
"Some of the flowers were fine, but most wilted," said Susan. "It was probably a result of how they were handled post-arrival. We had to unpack them and keep them in water, and it was a challenge to find containers to hold them all."
Susan was blessed with a crafty maid of honor who used the remaining live flowers and other garden blooms to create lovely, last-minute bouquets and arrangements. If you find yourself in such a situation but without the artistic MOH to pull off any miracles, rest assured that many step-by-step floral arranging instructions are available online. If you're truly down to crunch time, buy some roses, lilies or sunflowers and have your attendants carry a single stem down the aisle.
8: Cake Catastrophe
It's pretty hard to smear your groom's face with wedding cake if there isn't any. Amy Page of Atlanta barely sidestepped this dilemma on her 2006 wedding day.
"My wedding cake didn't arrive until moments before it had to be cut, and when it did, it looked nothing like what it was supposed to," Amy remembers. "The bakery had lost the order and didn't start making it until about three hours before the reception started!"
Fortunately for Amy and her hubby, the cake skated in just under the wire. Amy's no organizational slouch, so I'm willing to bet that she confirmed the order in advance and simply fell victim to some seriously irresponsible bakers on her big day. Still, it pays to double-check any of your vendors to be sure that you're all on the same page. A phone call on the day of the ceremony might even be warranted if you have a suspicion that a particular vendor is confused about your order.
If the worst-case cake scenario happens and your confection can't be produced in time, send a carload of bridesmaids to the local bakery to purchase a selection of delicious treats. And then demand a full refund from your vendor.
7: Weather Woes
Caroline Slaten, a bride from New York City, was married in the picturesque mountain town of Dahlonega, Ga. Severe weather and tornados threatened much of the surrounding area beginning in the wee hours of her wedding day.
"The weather was so bad that several of our guests had to turn their cars around and go home," said Caroline. "Then, when we were getting ready in the bridal suite, which was a small house in the middle of a vineyard, the tornado sirens went off."
Just before the ceremony, the skies miraculously cleared. "The sun came out, the birds started chirping, the vineyard got all foggy and misty, and a gigantic rainbow came out," said Caroline. "I could not have planned it better. It was so magical."
If, like Caroline, you're presented with a major storm on your wedding day, safety should be your No. 1 concern. Take shelter and, if necessary, postpone the ceremony until it's safe to proceed. If a major disaster occurs, it might be smarter (if more disappointing) to postpone the entire event. At the very least, don't hold a grudge against any guests who opt out of attending!
6: Preacher Problems
You can get married without the gown, flowers, photographer or cake. If your officiant fails to show, however, you'll be up the proverbial creek. Such was nearly the case for Lydia Smith of Fort Worth, Texas, whose officiant showed up for the nuptials … eventually.
"He arrived a half hour late because he remembered the time incorrectly," said Lydia. "After the ceremony, we presented the contract and ended up being refunded the cost of the church rental."
Even men (and women) of the cloth have faulty memories. Confirm the time and location immediately prior to the event, and it also wouldn't hurt to have someone in the audience licensed to perform the ceremony in a pinch!
5: Alteration Accidents
I was just 12 years old when my oldest brother got married, and even I knew that his tuxedo pants were way too short. Seriously, he could've walked through a flood, and his hems would have emerged unscathed. My mother is extremely handy with a needle and thread, so she let out the hems mere minutes before he took his place at the end of the aisle. His pants were still a little on the short side, but at least you couldn't see his socks.
As any good event planner knows, it pays to stock an emergency kit for your wedding. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Simply fill a shoebox with a sewing kit, scissors, tape, safety pins, bobby pins, hair spray, deodorant, pain reliever and other important items, and make it available to everyone in your wedding party. Another tip? Make sure everyone in the wedding party -- including the groom -- tries on his or her attire before the big day to ensure a good fit!
4: Illness Incident
As unfair as it is, even brides and grooms can be struck down by sickness on or right before their nuptials. It might be something minor, like a cold or allergic reaction, that responds immediately to antibiotics. Too often, however, illnesses that must run their course (here's looking at you, stomach bugs) are the culprits.
If you suspect that something's amiss in the days before your wedding, by all means hit the doctor's office to catch it as early as possible. No one wants to spend her wedding or honeymoon feeling feverish and miserable! If you're unfortunate enough to get sick on your wedding day, medicate as well as possible and be sure to consume plenty of fluids. You're supposed to leave your reception in a limo, not an ambulance.
3: Honor Horrors
The stress of a major event can unleash the inner maniac in men or women who are otherwise calm, collected and considerate people.
Ideally, you have a maid of honor who can be counted on to keep unruly bridesmaids or family members in line if they start to cause trouble. If someone manages to slip through the cracks, however, nip any complaining in the bud by calmly reminding the unhappy uncle or complaining cousin that you're preparing for the most important commitment of your life, so you'd appreciate it immensely if he'd shut his piehole. Do your best to stay zen, and hopefully your aura will rub off on everyone else. If not, put your ear buds in and drown out chatter with soothing music until it's time to walk down the aisle.
2: Food Fiasco
I judge any good event almost exclusively by the food. Everything else can take a back seat in importance, as far as I'm concerned. This is why I attended not one, but four tastings at my reception venue to ensure the perfect menu. So, what's a bride to do when something goes terribly wrong with the buffet spread or seated meal?
If you have concerns about anything to do with your catering, delegate authority to a trusted member of the wedding party or your wedding planner to straighten it out. For example, if it's early in the event, but the food stations are already dwindling in supply, politely demand that you get your money's worth in short order. The same advice goes for food presentation or temperature issues, which should be quickly rectified.
1: Location, Location, Location
Brides who spend weeks or even months scouting venues expect them to be pretty near perfect once the big day rolls around. Your standard reception hall or church tends to live up to its promises nicely, since events of this nature are what they're designed for. Occasionally, even the best sites mess up, and it's every bride's right to (nicely) demand to get what you paid for. Minor issues, like the wrong color tablecloths or dirty restrooms, can be easily and quickly fixed. Larger problems usually require more elbow grease, if they can be fixed at all. Remember Susan Garcia with the wilted flowers? Her blooms weren't her No. 1 concern.
The bride rented a beach house to use for the reception and a little decompressing time the week before the wedding. "When we checked in, it was clear that the spring breakers had done some serious damage to the place the weeks prior. There were cracked tiles, windows and counters." In short, the place was wrecked. Not exactly where you want to do your champagne toast, right?
Since they arrived in plenty of time to scout the place out, Susan was able to work with the property management company to be moved to another rental down the street. Although it wasn't ideal in terms of logistics, everything ended up working out nicely for her tropical nuptials.
"I'm happy to say that it was eight years ago and I couldn't be happier with my man!" Susan insisted.
When all is said and done, that's all that really matters. Although they certainly deserve a smoother 10th anniversary celebration!
Lots More Information
- 10 Horrific Details You Shouldn't Share in a Wedding Toast
- 10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Planner
- 10 Unexpected Wedding Expenses
- Your Cheat Sheet for Your Wedding Reception's Schedule of Events
- Eisenberg, Sherri. "Avoid Wedding Day Disasters." Bridal Guide. (March 21, 2011).http://www.bridalguide.com/planning/wedding-reception/avoid-wedding-day-disasters
- "Getting Over Your Wedding Day Disaster." Dr. Phil.com. (March 21, 2011).http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/352
- "Top Ten Wedding Don'ts." Wedding Channel. (March 21, 2011).http://weddings.weddingchannel.com/wedding-planning-ideas/wedding-ceremony-ideas/articles/top-ten-wedding-donts.aspx