It’s time for our third post from Weddings by Rachel – a professional wedding planner based in South Wales. Each fortnight she’ll cover a different wedding planning topic and this week she’s talking all about how wedding planners can help when things go wrong at weddings…eek! (You can see all the posts in this series here)
Sometimes you just have to admit that nothing is completely perfect. Things will inevitably go wrong on the big day, and it is my job (and a guilty pleasure of mine) to make things right before the couple even knows about it.
But even I can’t stop the rain from falling on an outdoor wedding ceremony, or the electric from cutting out during a first dance. Unfortunately these things have, and do happen, and the best thing to do is stay calm in a crisis and prepare for every eventuality you can!
Here a few examples of major and minor issues that I have had to deal with on wedding days and how I organised a solution. Everyone always thinks that it won’t happen to them, but I really do encourage you to consider the fact that there is a possibility, as slim as it may be, that something could happen to you.
Now, I don’t like being the bearer of bad news; quite the opposite in fact. I adore being the one to deliver the perfect wedding day for brides and grooms; and I am over the moon to say that I have had nothing but outstanding feedback since day one; but sometimes even I am faced with a challenge that makes me think “Oh no!”.
So here are some of the problems I have encountered, and what I did to resolve the problem, in the hope that it will help you be prepared for your big day :)
Problem: Delivery of the wrong cake
Now this was an odd one for me, because I wasn’t actually the planner for this wedding; in fact I was a guest. One of my close friends got married late last year and I was thrilled to be a guest and get to wear a pretty dress to a wedding!
However, when my husband and I sat down in the ceremony, I saw the cake set up on the platform in front and cringed. I was almost certain that it wasn’t the cake that they had ordered, after conversations with my (cake-maker) friend and bride, but as the ceremony was starting I was at a loss of capabilities at that moment in time. I couldn’t talk to the bride to make sure I was right.
I was, however, right, and was promptly informed when I asked the question. So immediately I sent the bride to get her glass of champagne and disappeared to make some calls. After many calls and demands I finally managed to rearrange delivery of the cake (which was two hours away).
The incorrect cake was promptly removed from the reception room and I waited as patiently as possible (I called every twenty five minutes for an update!) for the delivery of the correct cake; which by the way, was delivered to another wedding but had my friends’ names on it! Eek!
On delivery of the cake I checked it over for damage and we displayed it at the evening reception, opting for the cutting of the cake and photos at this time. This allowed the evening guests to enjoy it too, before it being cut and served after the evening buffet.
There was a silver lining though: my fabulous friend was known as the bride with two wedding cakes!
Problem: Blowing a fuse
This is never good; and is something that is completely out of your control. Unfortunately a bulb blew in one of the lights at this wedding, resulting in a blown fuse; cutting out all of the electrics in the venue. To make matters much worse it was during the first dance!
The second it went dark I moved like lightning to the band and DJ, which is where the catering manager was heading too; and organised for them to get the electric back on immediately. Knowing that they were on the case I went among the guest and ushered couples onto the dance floor.
The bride and groom didn’t want to dance for too long on their own, so while the lights were out I filled up the dance floor with additional couples. When the lights went back on the dance floor was full and many of the guests even thought it was planned.
Problem: Not enough food for the guests
This was one of those ‘worst nightmare’ moments at a wedding; for everyone involved.
This was an on the day package for me and I hadn’t worked with the caterers before. But this wedding was the only occasion where this proved to be a problem. Unfortunately the caterers arrived short staffed (three servers for 130 guests) and clearly without enough food!
During the starters I started to hear the servers telling the kitchen staff that they were running out of starters that people had ordered. When the kitchen staff advised there was nothing left, I jumped in and help create a unique starter for the remaining guests. Luckily, everyone was happy and I walked away from the kitchen relaxed and smiling, despite the momentary hiccup.
But then the real trouble came. There wasn’t enough food for over twenty guests during the main course. Everything was running late and kitchen staff were adamant that people had been eating more than one main course each!
Now this is an opportunity for a melt down – but, and I can’t emphasise this enough, it can’t be done! Calm, cool and collected is the only way in a terrible situation such as this.
I took the time to quietly speak to the guests who were without food and explained that there was a slight kitchen mishap. Unfortunately, the wedding was located in a quiet town away from too many amenities. Except a fish and chip shop.
Aware of the complications regarding time of going further afield, I quickly had to accept this as my only option. I discussed the options with the unfed guests, who were all quite happy with the suggestion; took orders and sent one of my very helpful assistants across the road with some cash.
Throughout the process I made sure to keep the bride, groom and the rest of the bridal party calm and relaxed, ensuring that there was as little worry as possible.
With things running late I organised for deserts to be served on platters to be eaten during the speeches, and we turned the room around in record time.
By the evening, guests were laughing about the situation, which in their eyes caused very little effect to the day itself.
My advice here – be prepared! Know your local area in advance of the wedding day. Although the likelihood of this happening is very slim, it has happened before and it is better safe than sorry! And please, speak to your caterers in advance – find out how many staff they are having and ensure that they are fully prepared, and make sure they definitely know how many guests are coming!
Problem: Melting wedding cake
I recently did a wedding where the cake maker was delivering a beautiful five tier wedding cake to Caerphilly Castle. I met the maker locally and took her up to the castle, leaving her to set up the cake as I worked on the room overall.
Shortly after our arrival I noticed some panic coming from the corner, and headed over to see what the problem was. It turns out the icing on the cake had melted in transportation and two of the tiers were not maintaining the beautifully smooth and elegant effect of the others.
Now, for those of you who take great pride in your work like this cake maker, you will understand the upset and worry that something like this can cause. She was trying so desperately to resolve the problem and smooth out the cake, but unfortunately it was not going to plan.
Taking a step back and reviewing the cake (and the room), I had a quiet word in the ear of the florist and salvaged some beautiful ivy that was being used to decorate the castle. Taking a stash of my emergency pins (I carry a crazy amount of emergency items); I cleaned all of the ivy and used it to create a ribbon around the damaged parts of the cake.
We also pinned some around the cake stand, making sure that it all integrated perfectly. This looked beautiful and fitted in spectacularly with the room. The bride and groom even commented on how perfect the addition was when they saw it later on!
Problem: Ripped wedding dress
This happens more than you think. High heels, rough floors and children are three enemies of the wedding dress.
This is why safety pins, an emergency sewing kit and someone who can thread a needle are always helpful to have on hand. I have had to sew up many brides dresses in the past to prevent them tripping up on the lining!
Alternatively, some pretty ribbon can work just as well and can be used to tie up a broken bustle hoop too, maintaining a beautiful effect :)
Problem: Rain on your wedding day
Living in Wales, rain on your wedding day can often be inevitable, so be prepared. Umbrellas, towels and jackets are always helpful to have on hand, and brides are becoming savvy to this. But if you are preparing an outdoor wedding, please think ahead.
The two top tips I can give are these: prepare the ceremony with a quick turnaround indoor option. It is worth not setting up a wedding breakfast until you can guarantee the weather is going to hold. Make sure that you’re going to be able to hold it outdoors so that there aren’t any last minute emergencies. Of course, if you have another room available, that’s perfect, but make sure it’s licensed in advance!
Alternatively, have a marquee or alternative available to pop up last minute in case of light rain. Please consider the location of it though. If you’re getting married on grass, think about those poor ladies wearing stilettos and try to get hold of a remnant of carpet to lay down should it get wet!
So! There are some things that I have experienced (and there were many more), but it’s worth considering everything for your big day. I have heard numerous other stories such as decorations falling down during ceremonies, guests falling ill during wedding breakfasts and much more. I have even had someone drive into me on the way to a ceremony before (I still made it on time; no easy feat I tell you).
But good preparation, or a wedding planner, can prevent you from having to worry about these things and relax and enjoy your day. Being laid back is great, but don’t be underprepared!
Please let me know if I can help with any preparation questions, or if something like this has happened to you, and what you did to fix it. Also, if there are any posts you would like to see here, drop me a line and I’ll do my best :-)
Lots of love,