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Worst-Case Wedding Scenarios—and How to Handle Them


Even if you've spent one full year to plan your wedding, unexpected mishaps can always happen when you least expect them. We've talked about common wedding-day problems like unpredictable weather or dress malfunctions before, but what should you do when something even worse happens? What if you lose your wedding ring right before you're supposed to walk down the aisle?

Don't start panicking just yet, as we've enlisted some help from a tried-and-true wedding professional. Together with Irene Kamaludin, founder of prominent Indonesian wedding planner IWP, we've gathered some useful solutions to problems that may arise before, during, and after your big day.

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Photography: iStock Photos

Before the big day

Limited guest list

Even if you want to invite everyone to your wedding, your budget and venue's capacity make it simply impossible. It won't be hard to leave out people who you haven't seen in years, like your former classmates and coworkers, but what about the ones you meet often yet didn't make it to the guest list?

Give a clear and honest reason why you can't invite your friends and coworkers, such as budget or capacity constraints. As more couples are having intimate weddings lately, we're sure that they will understand if you've decided to keep things private. Sometimes, it's better to not invite anyone from a particular group if some people will be left behind. You can always have a post-wedding dinner or casual gathering, like this couple's potluck wedding party, to celebrate with those who didn't make the cut.

If you have a large extended family or parents who have many business associates, things can get tricky. The most important rule is for you, your partner, and both of your parents to agree on an exact number of guests to invite, and commit to it.

Wedding budget problems

When it comes to sticking to your wedding budget, moderation is key. After all, you can't splurge on every single wedding element, unless you have an unlimited budget. This is where a wedding planner can be really helpful as your voice of reason. "Some of my clients know what they want for their dream wedding. If they don't, I have to remind them over and over again and persuade them to commit to what they have chosen in the first place," shared Irene. Aside from knowing which wedding elements should come first, a wedding planner might also be able to get better prices from partnering vendors.

If you want to take matters into your own hands, learn to prioritize. Categorize your wedding elements from the most important to the least important. How do you decide which is which? Follow our guidelines below.

1. Outdoor wedding

Always prepare a plan B to tackle unpredictable weather, like a tent or an indoor area that your guests can quickly reach in case it starts to rain. Also ask your decorator, florist, and other vendors about all the things you should prepare for an outdoor wedding. For example, your caterer might need special food containers to make sure the food stays fresh at all times.

2. Indoor wedding

For an indoor wedding, it all comes down to your budget and the kind of wedding you want to have. If you really must hire a particularly expensive wedding photographer or decorator, tone down the other elements to stay in budget. There are tons of talented, rising star vendors who are willing to do their best for you. Start to look around for their portfolios and reviews, head to wedding fairs, and use a wedding assistant service to get better deals.

Cancelling wedding vendors

Unfortunately, a signed vendor contract doesn't ensure that everything will run smoothly. Halfway through the wedding planning process, you might discover that your wedding vendor is unreliable, unsatisfactory, and simply incapable of fulfilling your needs. If you've tried to work things out to no avail, perhaps there is no other way than terminating your contract. Read your contract carefully, especially the cancellation terms and penalty, and be prepared to lose your non-refundable deposit.

There is also a chance that your vendor suddenly vanished into thin air or didn't fulfill their promises. "There was a time when a vendor didn't deliver the items as promised. That's why, I always take notes of all the items and do a double confirmation before the wedding day," said Irene.

If this happens, try your best to face these undesirable circumstances calmly. Go through the list of vendors that you previously considered for your wedding, and contact them one by one. To speed things up, ask for recommendations from your friends and other vendors, and remember to be honest about what happened.

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Photography: Delbarr Moradi Photography

Changing your wedding date or venue

Prepare to lose some money if you've already made down payments or even full payments to your wedding vendors. There are two tasks that you should do immediately, and this is the moment when having a wedding planner by your side would be especially helpful.

1. Contact all your vendors

First things first, you have to deal with all the wedding elements that you have settled prior to the big day. It might still be possible to get the things that can be prepared beforehand such as your wedding dress, flowers, and favors.

On the other hand, vendors who need to be present on your wedding day, like your makeup artist or photographer, might not be available on your new date. While waiting for them to get back to you, look over the cancellation terms in your vendor contract and find out how much you are expected to bear for a last-minute cancellation.

2. Settle the changes and announce them

Once you have settled all the changes and your vendors have agreed to your new wedding arrangements, start getting the news out to your guests. If you have only sent out save-the-date announcements, it will be an easier job for you. You can make a new group or event in Facebook or send out a revised save-the-date through email with a title that clearly states that you've had some change of plans.

Alternatively and even better, in our opinion, you can call each guest personally to make sure that they've heard the news. If you've already sent out your invitations, especially if you're planning a destination wedding, be prepared if some of your guests won't be able to make it.

Pre-wedding nervous breakdowns

Getting married is such a major life decision, it's no wonder that so many brides get cold feet before or even during the wedding day. It can happen months, weeks, or days before your wedding, even mere minutes before you walk down the aisle. That's why it's important to not let your wedding planning take over your whole life. Take a break from wedding planning every once in a while, just by pampering yourself and spending some quality time with your friends. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Wedding dress disaster

After all those months of anticipation, receiving a custom-made wedding dress that's not up to your expectations sure is disappointing. It might be too late to find another tailor or designer if there is only a few months or even weeks left, unless you know someone who is willing to go the extra mile for you. Instead, try out these options which aren't perfect yet will quickly give you some peace of mind.

First, you can head to the nearest bridal store to buy an off-the-rack wedding dress. It might not be personalized to your liking, but it won't leave you stressed out either. Another option is to ask for your mother or grandmother's wedding dress. This is a great chance to add an element of family heritage to your special celebration. Last but not least, you can rent a ready-to-wear wedding gown. It's an increasingly popular option for brides who don't want to make or keep their own wedding dress, so you'll be surprised to find so many options that are not bad at all.

Sudden illness or accident

Nobody wants to get sick, especially on the big day. Although you can't plan to not get sick, there are several steps you can take to prevent it. Exercising regularly prior to your wedding day is essential, but make sure not to tire yourself out. There are many healthy ways to get in shape, so you should avoid extreme workouts that can leave you injured. Also, stay away from crash diets that might do you more harm than good. Instead, adapt healthy eating habits that you can stick to even after the wedding celebration ends.

Irene also shared some advice for adventurous and fun-loving couples, "I always warn my clients not to do heavy sports or party too hard before the wedding, especially days or even weeks before the wedding. Don't play with fire, because we don't know what will happen next."

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Photography: Our Love is Loud

Photography: Our Love is Loud

On the big day

Unpredictable weather

Since nobody can predict the weather, it's no wonder that it's one of the most common causes of wedding-day emergencies. From heavy rain that can ruin an outdoor wedding to volcanic ash that can cause cancelled flights to a destination wedding, there's not much you can do when dealing with the force of nature.

Careful planning is the best way to tackle weather-related problems. Voice your concerns to your wedding planner and vendors, and prepare all the necessary items such as tents or umbrellas. On the wedding day itself, panicking won't do you any good. All you can do is embrace every moment and keep in mind that no matter how things go, this is one of the happiest days of your life.

Bad wedding bands

A wedding band will keep your guests entertained, but a vocalist who sings off-key and a drummer who just can't keep a beat will instantly ruin your whole wedding atmosphere. Have this simple backup plan ready at all times:

1. Prepare an emergency playlist on your MP3 player or laptop

2. If you have talented friends who can sing or have bands, ask them to help you out

3. Change the concept into a casual performance with your friends or relatives

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Photography: Megan W. Photography

Embarrassing speech

We're sure you don't want to experience cringe-worthy moments like your drunk uncle grabbing the microphone or the best man sharing too much information to an unsuspecting crowd. To make sure these moments won't ruin your day, assign your wedding planner, maid of honor, or someone else you can trust to control the situation. He or she should politely take over the microphone and make things less awkward by telling a joke or making a heartfelt speech.

It would be best to talk to your best man or anyone who will give a wedding speech ahead of time. Give them some simple rules and guidelines on what jokes your grandparents will and won't accept, for example.

Drunk and injured guests

If you have an open bar, ask the bartenders to keep track of guests who had too much to drink. If there are uncontrollable drunk guests who might start a fight, ask someone who is sober along with your venue's security staff to take them back to their hotel room.

For injured guests, use the venue's first aid kit if it's not too serious. If there is a serious injury, call an ambulance immediately. Wherever your wedding will be, make sure you know the phone numbers of the closest hospitals or clinics that you can bring guests to in case something bad happens.

Power outage

Most bigger venues, like hotels and other public places, should have backup plans in case there is a power outage. But if your venue happens to be a private property that is not used to holding weddings, consider renting a diesel power generator.

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Photography: Elyse Hall Photography

Missing bridesmaids

You are the one who knows the bridesmaids best, so think about your decisions carefully. Assign your closest and most trustworthy friend or sister as the maid of honor, and ask her to help manage the other bridesmaids. Remember to always be honest and considerate to your bridesmaids, and give them clear instructions on when and where they should be on the wedding day.

If a bridesmaid suddenly goes missing on the big day, send someone to find her as soon as possible. If things don't work out and your bridesmaid is just nowhere to be found, ask your planner to rearrange things so nothing looks out of place when you are walking down the aisle or taking group photographs.

Late officiant

"Sometimes we can't avoid something unexpected that happens on the wedding day. So, I always add some extra time and anticipate every possibiliy with backup plans to get the wedding back on track," said Irene. If the officiant is really nowhere to be found, it would be better to quickly ask someone else to perform the service and work out the legal issues afterwards.

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Photography: Peaches and Mint

Wedding crashers and uninvited plus ones

1. The uninvited plus one

Venues usually keep some spare chairs in case there are a few extra guests. Even though the guest will not get a place card, a seat should still be available without too much effort. If your space is tight, it's okay to sit your surprise guest far from his or her date. At least, you've tried your best to accommodate someone you didn't invite, right?

2. The wedding crasher

This usually happens at venues that have several parties going on at once. If you're hosting a small and intimate party, it would be easier to identify unfamiliar faces. Once you're absolutely sure that someone has crashed your wedding, ask your planner to discreetly approach the mystery guest without making a big scene.

Running out of food

"In every party, we cannot really predict exactly how many guests are going to come. That's why I always suggest my clients to actually count their guests. This way, they will not make mistakes on how much food they should order," explained Irene. If you don't have enough food after all, ordering extra will be the fastest solution. Don't forget to consider the timing and be prepared to face additional costs.

Missing wedding ring

Out of all the other disasters here, this one might worry you the most. If this ever happens, take a deep breath and try to find a quick solution. The first thing you can try is borrow your parents' rings if they are wearing the same size. Or, you can get creative and make any loop from straw, twigs, or any ribbons available at the venue. We know that this can stress you out, but don't let it ruin your entire day. Let it slip from your mind and get back to it the next day.

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Photography: Jessica Burke

After the big day

Wedding night gone wrong

Some brides-to-be have mixed feelings and different ideas about the wedding night. There are just so many questions and wedding night doubts that can make you nervous. Feel free to ask your married friends about it before the wedding. You might discover some funny wedding night stories that will make you realize that in the end, everything will be alright.

Honeymoon surprises

You've been planning your honeymoon for so long, only to miss your flight or arrive at a hotel room that looks nothing like the one on the website. If you still have the budget to switch hotels, do it as soon as possible. As for the things that you can no longer change, just let them be and make the best of what you have.

You're going on a honeymoon trip with the love of your life, and that fact alone will bring you some good memories. When things don't go as you wished for, deal with them quickly and just enjoy the time you have together. Besides, you can always have a second honeymoon later.

Terrible wedding photos

Meet the ultimate mood breaker after your wedding day, awful wedding photos. Sure, you can still ask your photographer or hire a digital image editor to smooth out unflattering body parts. But as much as you want to redo everything all over again, there is nothing you can do to fix major problems. If the photos are really, really bad, you can try asking all your guests to send in their photos snapped on your wedding day.

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Photography: O'Malley Photographers

Unwanted wedding gifts

You shouldn't be surprised to receive the same wedding gifts or even gifts that just don't suit your taste or personality. Before you throw them away or hide them in the corner of your cupboard, try out these options below:

1. Re-gift it

This is the most popular choice. You can simply re-wrap your unwanted gift and give it to someone else, but you need to carefully consider who you can re-gift it to. Make sure that the receiver is not closely related to the giver.

2.Give it to a friend, family member, or colleague who needs it

3. Donate it to charity

4. Return it to the store, if no receipt is required

5. Resell it through an online marketplace

To prevent this from happening, set up a gift registry to help your guests choose something that you will really treasure for years.

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