You’ve made your list and checked it twice, but are you prepared for all possible scenarios We’ve enlisted the help of Kelly McWilliams to address things that can go wrong on the big day.
McWilliams has been planning events since 2000, and is the mastermind behind Weddings by Socialites. She’s planned over 150 weddings, styled and produced wedding inspiration shoots and videos and runs her own blog.
She’s been in plenty pressure situations including having to create a wall of trees inside a tent to separate divorced parents. “And that’s nothing,” McWilliams says.
We asked her to share with us her fixes for eight emergency scenarios.
Fix: There are three things that you can do in advance of inclement weather that will make sure that your wedding day isn’t a wash out. First, know and accept that this is always going to be a possibility when you’re planning to be outside. Once you accept that, you will have a great outcome no matter what. Second, create an indoor plan that isn’t just a “back-up.” Plan everything with your vendors from the beginning on how you can make all your details and logistics work just as well inside. In other words, create plans for an indoor wedding that you love, so that you don’t feel the disappointment and nothing looks like or gives your guests the appearance of “last minute.” Finally, make the decision to move everything inside early, 5 or more hours is best. The sooner that your vendors are in the know that there’s a change of location or logistics, the better everything will look and feel for you and your guests.
Fix: Unfortunately, it happens. The good thing though is that it is typically pretty easy to get it out. It just takes a bit of time. Get 2 clean white napkins (fabric napkin if possible). With one of the napkins, consistently dab the stains, each time with a clean part of the napkin. Do not rub! Keep dabbing until it seems like you’re not getting any more of the stain out. While you’re dabbing, have someone run to get a cup of club soda. Even better, have a can of club soda ready in your wedding day emergency kit. Pour club soda on the clean napkin, start the dabbing process again. Hopefully this completely removes all the stain. If there are some stubborn spots, cover them with chalk or powder. I find that chalk works best only because its easier to apply a bit more firmly.
Fix: When you know there will be kids, plan in advance so that they can enjoy the time at your ceremony rather than getting bored. Have special seats reserved just for them at the ceremony. I suggest that these seats are toward the back and always on the outside of the rows or pews. That way, their parents have an easy way out if things get out of control. Kids love the feeling of being special, so let them know in advance that you have thought of them. Offer promises of surprises throughout the day for good behavior. At their seats, have “quiet” gifts for them. A small bag with a few crayons and paper, a disposable camera to create their own memories, and a handful of Legos goes a very long way. If possible, hire someone to be a happy-kid-keeper who can stay in a separate room (or area a bit of a distance from the site if you’re outside) with any kids who just aren’t going to make it through the ceremony. Make sure you make this area or room fun too. Provide toys and give the kid-keeper books to read to the kids.
Ed.’s note: Read more on how to accommodate children at your wedding here.
Fix: Usually this is just a warm weather problem, so winter weddings are off the hook. Thankfully, there are some things you can do in advance to battle this. Always visit the site in advance, at the same time of day that your wedding is going to take place so that you know what you’re up against. If possible, have the space sprayed for bugs several times before the wedding beginning 2 weeks in advance and the morning of the wedding. If its really bad on the day before the wedding and you have no breeze, and you don’t want to move inside, then plan on having a few oscillating outdoor fans set up on the perimeters to create a breeze to keep the bugs at bay. Set up a comfort station near the entrance and stock it with unscented bug spray, itch relief pens and hand fans. In the bathrooms, make sure you have the itch relief pens topical Benadryl in the hospitality basket for anyone who may have had a bad reaction to any bites.
Fix: First things first, cakes can quickly become unsafe to eat if they’re exposed to heat for a certain amount of time. At your consultation, let your baker know that you plan on the cake being outside. Ask how long it can be outside without spoiling. What fillings that are used can be a determining factor. Your caterer and venue coordinator also needs to be in the know about the cake so they can make appropriate plans for where the cake needs to be delivered and what time it can be placed outside. Sometimes, depending on the heat, the only option is to bring the cake out right before you cut it. So, if all your plans do go awry, and the cake begins to melt anyway, immediately get it to the coolest place possible. Place it away from sunlight, candles or harsh lighting. If the reception has already started, move up your cake cutting on the timeline to “right now”. That way it can just be taken away to be sliced before it gets ugly.
Fix: In advance choose a member of your wedding party to be the “ears on duty”. Give them the printed list of all of your do not plays, protocol selections and must have songs. Make the duty easy: have your planner or venue coordinator put the list at this person’s seat at the reception. Let your DJ know before the wedding that this person has the authority to ask him/her to put a halt on these songs. The responsible wedding party member should feel comfortable about going up to the DJ and reminding him of any song on that list.
Fix: Reach out to the vendors that you do have working at your wedding–they are the absolute best resource because they know so many people in the industry and can help you to get in touch with the best people the fastest. Make sure that you have all of your plans detailed out so that you can get the replacement vendor up to date in a flash. Some things will have to be changed all together. For instance, if the DJ doesn’t show up, have playlists for each portion of your wedding day ready on an iPod and know where you can rent a portable speaker with iPod connection.
Fix: For sure do a test run at the rehearsal. I always offer promises of surprises at the start of the aisle, “If you get half way down the aisle, you’ll see a surprise!” Have a helium filled balloon rise up in view on the last seat in the front row when they get halfway down. This will usually do the trick. If it doesn’t, let the parent know that they can and should stand up to see if they can coax them in. If none of that works, instruct the ceremony director to move on with the ceremony and know that you tried!