Picture this: You've spent months carefully planning your wedding day, from the venue to the color of the napkins, and you couldn't be more excited when it's finally here. But then halfway through the reception, the power goes out. Why? Someone forgot to ask the owners of your picturesque private estate if the venue is actually designed to host a wedding that big. All of a sudden, all the efforts (and tears) you put into planning your big day are rendered useless.
And, trust us, this is just one bad-case scenario. The truth is that there are many more things that can go wrong on a wedding day. We reached out to industry professionals and asked them about all the mishaps they've had to deal with so you can plan for them ahead of time.
Read on for a comprehensive list of wedding disasters and how to avoid them.
1. Flower fire drills
"Make your flower preferences known from the get-go, and don’t be afraid to repeat yourself, over and over and over—ensuring it’s a remembered note in your contracts and respective paperwork. That said, if you do end up with some flowers that aren’t doing it for you, [...] try enlisting one or two of your botanically inclined besties to go around and pluck the misfit flowers from your delivery." —Kellee Khalil, founder and CEO of virtual wedding planner app Loverly.
2. DIY projects gone wrong
"A lot of DIY brides depend on friends and family to do a lot of things such as flowers or favors. It’s important to get contracts in writing no matter who is helping you on the day of the wedding because it outlines exactly everyone’s expectations and what is going to be provided. When you have friends and family who are participating—an aspiring photographer or an aspiring florist—getting things in writing is essential because you’ll be disappointed the day of the wedding if they don’t provide everything that you’ve expected." —Brit Bertino, destination event producer.
3. Food and beverage requests
"Everyone has dietary needs these days and it’s really important that you communicate any food allergies over to your food and beverage vendor or caterer."
"What happens is the plates are coming out hot and ready, and people are ready to eat, and all of a sudden a pile of meat is put in front of a vegan or starches are put in front of somebody that is gluten-free. It’s always important to keep organized and understand your guests' dietary needs. It will help the back of the house, the kitchen, so they know what to prepare and make sure they serve everything on time." —Brit Bertino, destination event producer.
"This is a common issue we face working at non-traditional (and some conventional!) venues. The absolute best way to ensure your guests' comfort is to have a professional service come to your property and spray. There are so many organic and environmentally friendly options available now, and it’s not as costly as you may think!"
"We also love to put a pretty basket of natural bug repellant wipes in the restrooms, and at the bar, that won’t hurt the environment." —Francie Dorman and Britt Cole, founders of 42 North.
5. Inclement weather
"A lot of brides and grooms stress themselves out by looking at the weather too far in advance, but I do think that once you hit the Monday of your wedding week you have a good idea of what the forecast will ultimately be on your wedding day."
"The best thing to do, especially if you have an outdoor wedding, is to be very prepared for all types of weather. Whether it’s providing large golf umbrellas for your guests to use or, if you see the temperatures dropping, ordering heavy fleece blankets in bulk so that people are comfortable." —Allison Aronne, wedding producer at Fête New York.
6. Forgot something?
"People forget that they need to bring their critical items like their rings, their marriage license, or their candles for the ceremony."
"Also important—having a master copy of your vows, of readings, or toasts. I think having your maid of honor or your best man carry a master copy of those things is always helpful." —Brit Bertino, destination event producer.
7. How do you spell that?
"Whenever I’m at a wedding and hear the band pronounce the couple’s last name incorrectly, it makes me cringe."
"Having pre-planning meetings before the big day and sitting down with your band is vital. I also suggest going through the small details in person, in addition to on paper, such as 'this is how we pronounce our first names and this is how we pronounce our last names,' in order to prevent these kinds of mistakes." —Allison Aronne, wedding producer at Fête New York.
8. Your bridal party is late
"While it’s important to provide ample transportation for your guests, ensuring you have a separate car (with the most direct route) for the bridal party is essential. Particularly with city weddings, traffic can severely derail a wedding day timeline."
"Avoid unnecessary stress and book a private car or have a trusted guest bring you to the venue safely, ahead of schedule to decompress a bit before the ceremony starts." —Beth Helmstetter, principal event designer of Beth Helmstetter Events.
9. Missing something?
"Perhaps your florist created one boutonnière less than what you need for your groomsmen. Rather than panicking, look around—are there any of those same flowers in your bridesmaids’ bouquets that you could use? Perhaps there are small pieces from the other boutonnières you can borrow to create one more. Or alternatively, when in doubt, order one more than you think you need just in case you forgot someone." —Beth Helmstetter, principal event designer of Beth Helmstetter Events.
10. No parking
"Many times, rental properties or owners won’t allow guests to park on the grounds of the estate. Plan ahead for transportation to and from a separate parking area throughout the wedding." —Francie Dorman and Britt Cole, founders of 42 North.
11. There’s a power outage.
"As a good rule of thumb, for outdoor and indoor weddings, always make sure that all the generators, inverters, and other backup sources are operating properly and ready to be used."
"Electricity outages can happen, particularly at older historic landmarks or private estates that aren’t designed to deliver that much power all at once. It’s even a good idea to hire an on-site technician to remain on property throughout the duration of the event to troubleshoot any problems that may arise in real time." —Francie Dorman and Britt Cole, founders of 42 North.
12. You or your partner are sick
"Sometimes even if the weather is cooperating, you or your bae is under the weather. So before having too much fun at your rehearsal dinner, stash some Pedialyte and Ibuprofen in your weekender to pop if you need it!"
"And if you’re truly sick then just try to power through the day with a smile. Fill your photographer in on the situation and keep them posted on your status. Feeling a few genuine moments of stability, get your photos in now! And also see if your makeup artist/hairstylist can work a few extra hours to glam you up when all you’re feeling is green." —Kellee Khalil, founder and CEO of virtual wedding planner app Loverly.
13. Not leaving enough time for photography
"Many couples give photographer second fiddle when it comes to planning and shooting time. If you want great shots, not only should you give your photographer enough time before and after the ceremony, but also allow your photographer to take action when the best lighting is. For instance, if you've hired an amazing photographer known for their natural light photography, but are pushing your ceremony to sunset, you may be disappointed with the end product." —Beth Helmstetter, principal event designer of Beth Helmstetter Events.
14. Wardrobe malfunctions happen
"Whether it’s a bride’s or bridesmaid’s dress, having a zipper breaking or a button falling off of a groom’s or groomsman’s suit, [...] we recommend having a professional seamstress available on the day of the event.
This person can also bring a steamer and an iron and can oversee everyone’s wardrobe. For people who don’t have it in the budget to bring a seamstress on site, it’s also just good to know if someone in your bridal party or a family member is able to sew or even tie a bowtie, peace of mind goes a long way." —Allison Aronne, wedding producer at Fête New York.
15. Unexpected guests
"There are several reasons why one of your guests may need to bring an extra +1, 2, or 3. Plan to leave a few ‘open,’ flexible spots at a table or two and also give your caterer and venue a heads up if you’re anticipating any surprise party people. You can ask in advance about what can be done to accommodate them and see how you’ll be charged for it." —Kellee Khalil, founder and CEO of virtual wedding planner app Loverly.