Keep your bridal cool intact with these tips for dealing with wedding day nightmares
We’ve all been there: waking up in the middle of the night drenched in a cold sweat because of a wedding-related nightmare is arguably as part-and-parcel of the bridal experience as arguing over the guest list or shopping for your dress. While some brides manage to swerve this gulp-inducing phase, for others, it offers a worrying countdown to the big day.
But what if that dream becomes a wedding-day reality? What if you wake up, and it’s actually happened?
First, breathe. ‘The chances are no-one will notice the small things that go wrong, so do your best to let it go and focus on what is going right,’ says life coach Sarah Doyle (thebetterlifeproject.ie). ‘I got married last year and know first-hand the work that goes into wedding planning. But when you look back on it, you won’t remember the starter that was served cold, the unexpected rain, or the last-minute cancellation from old school friends!’
The second step is preparation. Work out alternative options for the elements you’re worrying about, whether it’s finding an alternative route to the venue in case of bad traffic or taking out that wedding insurance you’ve been considering. Of course, there are some things you simply can’t control, no matter how much you might want them to go your way – but for everything else, there’s prior prep and a good old Plan B to keep it on track.
When you look back on it, you won’t remember the starter that was served cold, the unexpected rain or the last-minute cancellation from old school friends!
Don’t let the weather dampen your big day
Fundamentally, nothing matters more than the purpose of your wedding day: the whole point of why you’re saying, ‘I do’. It’s all about you declaring your love for your partner and committing yourself to him or her. All the rest of it is, in theory, just a bonus: a party, a cherry-on-top finish for the best day of your life – albeit one that every bride wants to be perfect.
Whatever happens, just go with the flow. ‘Have adequate support in place,’ suggests Sarah. ‘A helpful bridesmaid or an obliging auntie, for example. Weddings are big events and contain a lot of moving parts, so it’s unlikely everything will be perfect. Whatever the situation is, remember you’ll look back and laugh at it in years to come’.
Remember, there is always a Plan B and even a Plan C if needed
With all that in mind, we’ve asked the experts to share their advice for handling some classic last-minute wedding day disasters…
The nightmare: a supplier drops out
Check with your vendors what they do if ill health or unexpected circumstances mean they are no longer able to attend: typically, they’ll have a colleague or an industry contact whom they will enlist instead. Whatever the situation, just ‘try not to panic,’ says photographer Katie Farrell (katiefarrellphotography.com). ‘Delegation is key, so if someone in your bridal party says they will sort it, trust them and try to relax.’ If a replacement doesn’t seem possible, so be it. ‘The show must go on,’ says Katie. ‘You can’t change the situation, only your attitude towards it. This is a tiny blip on the radar and might even make a funny story one day.’
Plan B: The answer to this one varies according to the supplier, but wedding insurance is essential for making claims on any gone-wrong elements of your wedding day.
Delegation is key, so if someone in your bridal party says they will sort it, trust them and try to relax
The nightmare: The weather is threatening to put a dampener on your plans.
The weather is arguably the most unpredictable element of your day, so it pays to have backup ideas. For example: if you’re planning on holding your ceremony outdoors, have blankets or hand fans in place in case it’s too cold or too hot. Work out with your venue in advance what you’ll do if rain threatens the likelihood of being able to swap your vows alfresco and come up with a secondary option, just in case.
Stock-up on wet weather essentials: a pair of
wed-worthy umbrellasand some Wellington boots
What if bad weather threatens those dreamy photos you wanted to take on the grounds of your venue? Don’t panic, says photographer Tomasz Kornas (tomaszkornas.com). ‘Plan ahead and discuss the possibility in advance with your photographer,’ he advises. ‘I always do this with my couples. Some are adventurous and don’t mind the risk of getting wet, but others would rather stay dry and come up with an alternative option. Your photographer will want to create beautiful images, whatever the weather – and rain can actually result in stunningly saturated colours.’
The Plan B: Stock-up on wet weather essentials: A pair of wedding-worthy umbrellas, for example, and some Wellington boots you can slip on under your dress to prevent your heels from getting, quite literally, stuck in the mud..
The nightmare: Guest drop-outs.
Last-minute guest cancellations are frustrating: in addition to the logistics of reshuffling the table plan, you can also find yourself having to fork out for meals that weren’t even eaten. ‘Typically, your venue or caterer will look for final numbers 24–72 hours before your wedding, so if there are any people you are unsure will make it, take them off the list,’ recommends wedding planner Sharon McMeel (sharonmcmeel.ie). ‘Most venues will allow for a small increase on the day, if needed; whatever final figure you provide will be the minimum you are charged for.’
The Plan B: Sharon advises leaving the printing of the table plan to the last minute, allowing for any final edits to be made. What if someone cancels or shows up unexpectedly on the day itself? ‘Don’t panic,’ she says. ‘Tell your wedding planner or coordinator and they’ll take care of the rest.’
The nightmare: Stains on my wedding dress
Let’s be honest: A pristine white gown is crying out for something disastrous to happen to it, whether it’s a streak of foundation landing on it in the morning or a slosh of red wine at the wedding breakfast.
When it comes to avoiding makeup spills on your gown, ‘prevention is key,’ explains Stacey Brennan, founder of Making Faces Make-Up Studio (making-faces.ie). ‘A final touch-up before you put your dress on will help stop any accidents. Alternatively, pop your “getting ready” robe on over your dress, backwards, to keep it covered.’ That said, if something does happen, you might be able to deal with it with washing-up liquid. No, really. It’s excellent for getting rid of oil-based stains; simply dampen the affected area and gently massage a little washing-up liquid in, using a towel or flannel to pat it off.
The Plan B: Chances are you won’t notice small marks on your dress as the day goes on – mud on the train, for example, or a slight imprint from where your bronzer-loving cousin leaned in for a hug. Either way, it makes sense to take your wedding gown to a drycleaner after the big day, especially if you’re planning to store it.
The nightmare: The guests aren’t mingling
If your guest list features clusters of people who have never met, you’re going to need to think smart to get them interacting – especially earlier on in the day. ‘Entertainment during the drinks reception that gets the guests involved is a great way to kick things off,’ suggests wedding planner Michelle McDermott (dreamirishwedding.com). Give a little extra thought to your table plan, too: group together people you think will have common ground, for example.
To the evening! An empty dance floor might just mean your guests are busy enjoying the buffet, but if you’d rather keep it full, Michelle has some advice. ‘The best man and ushers should gather everyone up with the help of the band or DJ,’ she says. Create an atmosphere that’s conducive to partying and invite guests onto the dance floor as soon as the first dance is over, so they don’t get a chance to plant themselves at a table for the rest of the night.
The Plan B: Stock reception tables up with icebreaker games and offer an assortment of entertainment options for your evening reception; the dance floor, you could have a photo booth stocked with props, for example, or a games corner.
The nightmare: you feel awkward in front of the camera
The secret to feeling camera confident might be an engagement shoot, advises photographer Katie Farrell (katiefarrellphotography.com). ‘It’s fun because there are no time restraints, and it can take place wherever you feel most comfortable,’ she says. ‘Many people won’t have had a professional photograph taken until their wedding day, so it’s a great way to get you both used to being in front of the camera.
It also helps to build a rapport with your photographer. Don’t want an engagement shoot? No problem. ‘Your wedding day will be such a whirlwind that you might be aware of your photographer’s presence at the beginning,’ says Katie. ‘But a good photographer will blend in so seamlessly that you’ll forget they’re even there.’
The Plan B: Embrace the challenge. ‘When it comes to your portrait shots, remember that you and your partner have each other and are in this together!’ advises Katie. ‘Sure, it might be awkward for a few moments but once you relax, it will be fine. Remember, you’re taking photos with the love of your life. It can’t be that hard, can it?’