As event planners, we’ve seen nearly all there is to see when it comes to wedding hiccups, mishaps, and downright disasters—which is why we’re all about helping fellow planners and engaged couples alike avoid these cringe-worthy moments. After all, we all know to outline a Plan B when it comes to undesirable weather—but what about those other I didn’t see that coming! moments? From forgotten rings to distracted flower girls, we’ve outlined the top wedding mishaps (and how to plan for them) below. Read on, and get ready to breathe a serious sigh of relief for each and every crisis averted.
1. Rings are left at home
This is a ceremony uh-oh we’ve seen happen once or twice (or 20 times). Be proactive by setting an alarm or alert on your (or the responsible party’s) phone for the morning of. You can also plan for this crisis by giving your planner or officiant stand-in rings the week prior to your wedding. These can be simple, inexpensive rings for your planner to have on hand should the real rings be left at home.
2. Ring bearer or flower girl panics at the start of the ceremony
The good news with this one is that cute kiddos can hardly do anything wrong—so a wandering flower girl or confused ring bearer won’t upset a soul (and will certainly draw a few laughs). But if your ring bearer or flower girl are hesitant to even begin the walk down the aisle—or break into a full-blown temper tantrum—you’ll want to have a plan in place to replace them. You certainly don’t want to force a frightened or fussy child into an uncomfortable situation—so plan for an older backup duo, especially if your ring bearer and flower girl are super young and unpredictable. We love the idea of having grandparents walk the rings down the aisle, for example—it makes for adorable photos and meaningful memories.
3. Bride or groom is without vows after the ceremony has already started
We’ve seen this one first-hand, too! With so much to remember on the day of, it’s not all that unlikely that vows get left in the getting-ready room. To help avoid an all-out crisis at the altar, then, ensure your wedding planner or coordinator has a copy of both sets of vows prior to the day of. You can decide on a secret signal to give your planner once you’re at the altar should you need your vows—if caught in time, your planner can send the vows down the aisle with a member of your wedding party or processional. You should also provide your officiant a copy of your vows beforehand and ask that she or he keep a paper copy of both on hand just in case.
4. An Important Guest Imbibes...A Little Too Much
This is something we’ve seen at nearly every wedding we’ve planned. With nerves running at an all-time high and an open-bar begging to be bellied up to, chances are you’ll see at least one member of your wedding party or family indulge in the imbibing a bit too much (and, hey, can you really blame 'em?). Decide beforehand how you want to handle this—but this is where having hired professional wedding planner is a huge help. Let your planner know what to do if a guest is getting unruly, as this certainly isn’t a situation you want to handle on your own. While some couples may choose to let this go (especially if the guest isn’t slated to give a speech or be involved in a dance), others may want the person cut off or removed if things get really out of hand. If the guest is slated to give a speech, you may need to simply forego that toast. Again, talk this over with your wedding planner so she or he knows exactly what to do if an out-of-hand guest is spotted. Also, talk to your bartenders so they know what kind of a wedding you’re going for—while some couples are all about the party, others may want to keep the drinking down a bit. If keeping guests semi-sober is important to you, you’ll want to let the bartenders know ahead of time to cut off guests who seem like they’ve had too much, or even consider serving only wine and beer as opposed to a full bar (many-a wedding mistakes can be cut back on by simply tucking away the tequila, if you know what we're saying).
5. A non-vetted guest grabs the mic for a speech
Some couples may choose to have open-mic toast time during their reception, while others don’t. We tend to lean towards no open-mic hours, as we’ve rarely (if ever) seen this go over well. Open-mics, after all, are a magnet for the drunk and disorderly (hello, liquid courage). So, we recommend scheduling specific toasts ahead of time and instructing your planner to keep the mic out of the hand of anyone who’s not on the list—this is key when it comes to avoiding cringe-worthy moments or speeches that go on for far too long.
Overall, avoiding ceremony mishaps and reception trainwrecks is all about being proactive and working with a seasoned, professional planner. It may be a cliché, but the key is to hope for the best and plan for the absolute worse. After all, the one thing you don’t plan for is usually the one thing that goes awry. So, be sure to have a solid plan in place for the above six wedding mishaps to ensure your day goes off without a single upsetting, embarrassing, tell-me-that-didn’t-happen hitch!
(Psst...wondering about how to avoid specific mistakes at the altar? We break down the 6 most common ceremony mistakes here!)
Photo courtesy San Diego wedding photographer By Amy Lynn