I thought it would be useful to gives you a little insight into the sorts of things that can go wrong, even when you have planned the perfect wedding day! In my seven years as a professional wedding planner, I have had to fix a wide range of wedding day disasters, working seamlessly and discreetly behind the scenes. I will just add here that the majority of these issues have been for On the Day clients, where I haven’t been involved in the full preparation and planning and also that most of them were issues that are human error, and let’s face it, sometimes things just don’t go to plan!! This is where my discrete service will ensure your wedding day continues to run as close to plan as possible, with minimum disruption for your guests, and, in most situations the bride and groom have been completely unaware of what I have had to do to keep things running – which is exactly how it is supposed to be! Running a wedding is not about glory-seeking, my priority is always to make sure my clients have a stress-free and relaxing day, celebrating with their friends and family.
So here are some of the biggest wedding day disasters which I have had to deal with over the last 8 years!
At one wedding in a dry hire venue, the fuse box completely blew in the kitchen just as we were about to serve the main course of the wedding breakfast, leaving us no means of cooking food or keeping items chilled. As you can imagine this was fairly significant and the scenario was not easy to remedy, as unlike a hotel there is no staff on site to call upon and fix such issues. Unfortunately, the emergency contact number drew a blank and I had to think resourcefully to get the problem solved. working closely with the catering team, who themselves were right up against it with service, we got things back on track, everybody got fed and the crisis was averted. Later in the evening I managed to contact the emergency contact and we got the power properly fixed. All timings were tweaked to avoid any major delays, there were no overtime fees for any of the staff or other wedding suppliers as I was able to adjust the schedule and think on my feet. The bride and groom had no idea until the day after their wedding and found it hilarious!! I also had a similar situation where during the starters one of the hired ovens blew up, causing about an hours delay for the service of the main course. This was again, a completely unforeseen mishap but it was actually one we couldn’t discretely deal with as all the guests were waiting for their next course to be served! With timings already under-pressure (due to the band’s set-up time) I quickly communicated with the rest of the wedding team and swapped around speeches so that we managed to do those (unfortunately without toasting champagne) in the hiatus. It wasn’t ideal but at least it kept everything running as close to time as we could manage. In this situation if I hadn’t been there the delay would have been even longer as the catering team could all focus on using the remaining oven to heat the meal, leaving me to communicate with the bride and groom and other suppliers.
As we know the weather is often something unpredictable and despite having contingency plans, sometimes you can have such extremes that even your plan B can be effected. In one example the tipi began leaking right above a guest’s chair! It was doubly unfortunate as this was a high-profile TV celebrity’s chair so I had to act fast and prevent him getting a wet bottom!! It was only because I was doing my final checks in the tipi before the church service that this even got spotted and instantly resolved, if there had only been the catering team on site at this time they wouldn’t have noticed it for quite some time as they were all preparing in the kitchen for the canapé service. There was also another time when I was first on site and due to heavy winds and rain overnight, I arrived to a marquee that had its linings all dropped down and a mini river running through the middle of the marquee. Using my experience and knowledge of marquees, I knew how to reattach the linings, which I did, and luckily I had arrived earlier than I needed to so had just about enough time to do this! The mini river was a little more of a problem! I managed to contact a local farmer who arrived later that morning with some sand that we pushed underneath the carpet to counteract the dip in the ground that was causing the water to rise up into the marquee. In a stroke of luck the rain abated and the sun shone so although the carpet looked muddy and sandy it managed to dry out before the guests arrived after the ceremony- phew!! The bride and groom were none the wiser and had a smooth running, fabulous day!
The majority of my weddings are on private land which means the team there on the day are those brought in by my clients, other than me, everyone has a set job to do which means that any emergency tasks will fall to me – that’s the benefit of having me there – there will always be someone to pick up the pieces!! Unlike a hotel where there are a team of staff, housekeepers, caretakers etc if you man your marquee wedding day incorrectly or something doesn’t quite work to plan you have no ounce or back up and it will fall to you (or a family member or friend) to work to bring things back on track. Catering teams can also be absolutely great at helping keep your wedding day running to schedule but remember that their primary focus is the food and service to you and your guests, they will not be the ones having to unblock toilets, restart generators, hoover the marquee floor, turn night time lighting on etc etc – all of which I have had to do! But what happens when the catering team mess up – who is your back-up then? I had one situation where the catering team completely forgot to pack the after dinner coffee and petite fours! Unfortunately, they didn’t discover this until part way through the service of the mains. With no spare hands, as everyone was busy with serving, clearing and prepping dessert, I made a very quick dash out to the local shop and grabbed some. Another situation occurred when the catering team had left for the evening but they had not prepared the correct meals for the evening band. There was one vegetarian and all we had been left was a delicious – but not so vegetarian – shepherd’s pie!! Luckily, I was on hand to rustle something up from the evening guests’ buffet and what my client’s had in their own kitchen cupboards! Afterwards I got this lovely feedback:
“Thanks, Emily. We’ve never been looked after so well by a wedding co-ordinator. Really appreciate it and I hope we can work together again sometime.
Having happy suppliers is just as important to me as having happy clients and guests!
Offering support to the rest of the wedding team during the day when things don’t go to plan is also part of my job. I have had instances where guests who hadn’t RSVP’d suddenly turned up! A quick shuffle of place settings, rearranging some furniture and bam! All sorted, no fuss and the bride and groom were none the wiser. Leaving the catering team to have to deal with sort of a scenario would have inevitably caused a delay to the service of food which would then have had a knock-on effect with the rest of the day’s schedule so having me on hand to swiftly deal with this meant everything stayed on track and seamless. Part of my preparation routine before the wedding ceremony is always to double check if there have been any last minute dietary changes from the guests (guests suddenly discovering they are pregnant or have a recently diagnosed allergy) or any last minute cancellations. At this point the bride and groom will be getting ready so they can relax and enjoy that part of the day knowing that I will be averting any disasters by communicating the changes to the catering team, rearranging table plans, whatever is necessary basically to make sure everything works perfectly for the catering team.
As you know by now I am a massive advocate of using local suppliers however, there are times when a specific service is needed from outside of the county. Most commonly this tends to be musicians. The risk with this is that they are beholden to the traffic and it is not uncommon for bands to arrive later than scheduled. There was one situation where the ceremony band, who were traveling up from London, got completely stuck on the M25 and turned up 45 mins late – and I mean late for the ceremony start time, not just late for their getting ready time! They literally had to race to their positions and play acoustically as we didn’t have time to plug in their amps. Then to make matters worse there had been a mix up with the communication about the bride’s entrance song and they played the wrong music!! By this point I think my bride was just so happy to walk down the aisle that she didn’t mind too much – thankfully!!
My Emergency Kit….
I also bring my Emergency Kit on the day which has come in very useful on many occasions, whether it is a quick phone recharge for one of the ceremony readers who only has their reading on their phone or insufficient twine for the table names, matching ribbon to tie some flowers, blu-tac to re-pin a sign, a duster to clean a dirty candlestick – there are a multitude of these little snags that can happen and wouldn’t be dealt with by any other wedding supplier on the day.
Of course, there are also some more serious situations which can happen. I have had some very sad events, not only on the actual wedding day but also in the weeks preceding a wedding, that my expertise has been invaluable for – one very sad situation was four weeks before my client’s wedding and the caterer passed away very suddenly. We had to sensitively plug the gap and find a solution to this which luckily all turned out fine but it was a hairy few weeks with very little time to spare! I have had one bridesmaid receive sad news during a wedding ceremony and had to immediately leave to catch a plane to reach a dyeing relative. Making sure that she was kept calm and helping her with her travel arrangements while keeping the rest of the guests in the celebratory spirit, and the timings still on track, was quite a feat but I managed it and although my bride was very sad about her best friend’s news she still had a smooth running day. Guests suddenly falling ill and needing medical assistance is something I have also have happen on a wedding day. It was discretely dealt with and the lady in question made a complete recovery with minimum impact on the day because the other suppliers were able to keep focused on their tasks as I was on hadn’t to deal with the problem.
As you can see from the above examples, things can go wrong and remaining calm under pressure and thinking straight to get the problem solved is definitely one of my strengths. I do love the variety of the events that I work on, there is always something different happening (and I don’t mean in a bad way). If you want to get in touch and find out how I can help you plan a drama-free wedding then do drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or you might be interested in downloading my FREE marquee checklist which is packed with hints and advice for planning your own marquee wedding.