A wedding should be the most fun, celebratory, memorable day of your entire life—but with such an important event steeped in etiquette norms and social expectations, there’s plenty of room for things to get a little bit awkward. From the groomsman whose slurred speech just won’t end to the classic case of the guest who forgot to RSVP, having help to defuse awkward situations on your wedding day is an absolute must. Today, then, we’re breaking down three classic cringe-worthy wedding moments and offering up advice for keeping each to an absolute minimum.
1. Forgotten RSVPs
As events planners with hundreds of weddings under our belts, we can promise you there will always be at least one forgotten RSVP. No matter how easy the self-addressed, stamped reply cards make it for guests to RSVP, certain people simply won’t realize the headache and stress they’re causing by not RSVPing. We always recommend keeping close and constant track of your RSVPs in Aisle Planner. Once the RSVP-by date passes, be sure to flag any guests who haven’t responded. Then, at least two weeks before you need to give your caterer and other vendors final numbers, start making phone calls—and enlist someone to help. You can simply say, “Hi, I wanted to make sure you’d received our wedding invitation. I have to get final numbers to my vendors in a few days and I want to be sure we include you if you think you’ll be able to make it.” Making these calls can be a headache, but it’s something that has to be done in order to secure final guest counts. Working out kinks ahead of time (rather than being surprised on the day-of by that party of five who never RSVP'd) is always key.
2. Guests Who Show Without RSVPing
Would someone really show up to a wedding without RSVPing? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. It happens all of the time. You might either have guests who never RSVP’d who show up on the day-of, or you’ll have guests who changed their plus-one status without telling you (either by bringing a plus-one when they only RSVP’d for themselves, or by bringing a plus-one who is not the same plus-one they RSVP’d for—which means your place cards will have the wrong name).
These situations are always best handled by a wedding planner—which is why we recommend hiring a month- or day-of planner at the very least (you can read our top reasons for hiring a wedding planner if you need the justification). A professional planner will always be able to find somewhere to squeeze that extra guest in—and they’ll have extra escort cards and blank place cards on hand to do so without you even noticing the hiccup. The same thing goes for guests who bring a plus-one without RSVPing for one, or who change their plus-one without telling you. In both cases, a professional planner will be able to squeeze in the extra guest or quickly change out place cards to reflect the new plus-one’s name. That being said, not RSVPing for a wedding is a huge no-no and, while you never want to make guests feel bad or awkward (even in situations when they should), if a plus-one has to sit at a place-setting that boasts someone else’s name, don’t sweat it. Your planner will do her or his absolute best to accommodate every single guest, but if you’re using, say, a giant mirror with custom calligraphy in lieu of escort cards, obviously this can’t be changed at the last minute. The great news is that everyone tends to be in a good mood at weddings. People are there to eat, drink, and celebrate—the type of guest who forgets to RSVP or changes his or her guest without telling you is likely the same type of guest who won’t blink an eye if their plus-one’s place card boasts someone else’s name, or if they’re squeezed in on the end of a packed table.
3. Terrible Toasts
We’re not going to lie—a bad wedding toast is sort of one of those trainwreck moments you can’t help but be drawn to. Watching one on reality television or on the movie Wedding Crashers or, we’ll admit it, even at a friend’s wedding can be both cringe-worthy and purely entertaining. But, at your own wedding you’d probably prefer to keep the slurred speeches and inside-joke-laden stories to a minimum. The best way to keep awkward speeches and toasts from happening, then, is to be proactive in your planning.
Only invite guests to give a toast who you trust and know will do a great job—and, if you’re really worried about it, ask them in advance to let you know what topics they’re touching on. Be sure to give each a time limit beforehand as well—toasts that drag on too long can be about as bad as anything. You’ll also want to schedule toasts to take place at the beginning of the reception, before the crowd gets too...shall we say, saucy? One of the most important things you can do is to decide ahead of time whether or not you want to allow an open-mic period. Think long and hard about this—there are pros and cons. A major pro is that you might get some guests who get up and make emotional, beautiful, moving, off-the-cuff toasts. The con? That one drunk guest who starts delving deep into the bride’s dating past. Once a bad toast starts, keep in mind there’s not much you can do to stop it short of taking the mic out of the offender’s hand—so the best thing to do is to be proactive ahead of time to minimize the chances of a terrible toast happening on the day-of.
Overall, awkward wedding-day moments are bound to happen—so the two best things you can do are (1) plan for these ahead of time and take proactive steps to prevent or minimize them, and (2) hire a professional wedding planner. Seasoned wedding planners have seen everything there is to see when it come to wedding faux pas—and they know how to best handle any awkward wedding day moment you can dream of. The best part, though? The best planners can do so without you ever noticing the hiccup—which is exactly as it should be.
Photo courtesy Shane and Lauren Photography