How to handle the nightmare before blissfulness.
Getting married to the person of your dreams should be the best day of your life. But months of precision planning can go awry in the time it takes for a seam to split, a heel to snap or Mother Nature to go berserk. Just ask Amy Kates.
Kates and her husband, Sean Fuller, had been planning the fairy tale outdoor ceremony of their dreams for Aug. 27, 2011, at the Brandywine Manor House in Honey Brook, Pa. The long-range forecast looked perfect. But then Hurricane Irene popped up on radar and the warnings went out.
Kates cried. “I spent most of the day with a bag of frozen vegetables on my face, it was so swollen,” recalls the 29-year-old writer from Wilmington.
But she was smart. She chose a venue with a backup plan and a wedding planner to coordinate those vexing last minute changes. In the end, she got married. Most of her guests turned out. None of her vendors canceled.
Weather is not the only thing that can derail your plans. Indeed, weddings are rife with opportunities for mishaps. And though it’s impossible to predict everything that might go wrong on your wedding day, here are some tips on what to do if the unexpected occurs.
What to do if…your venue cancels
Bankruptcies. Fires. Burst pipes. Anything can cause your venue to shut down. Wedding planner Kameron McConnell (Wilmington, 762-5765, afflairevents.com) recommends checking hotels, because they typically have more than one ballroom. Fire halls are also a possibility, and many have upgraded their banquet facilities. Switching your date from a Saturday to a Friday or Sunday will increase your chances of finding a venue, says Jeff Robinson, sales and marketing director at Deerfield (507 Thompson Station Road, Newark, 368-6640, deerfieldgolfclub.com). So will your willingness to travel a bit farther, says Bradford Billet, sales manager and wedding coordinator at Executive Banquet & Conference Center (205 Executive Drive, Newark, 731-1800, executivebanquets.com), which has two smaller rooms in Kennett Square and Essington, Pa.
What to do if…an important vendor bails
Wedding planners recommend you seek out a seasoned professional before pressing a friend or relative into service or trying to do it yourself. For a last-minute caterer, try Bachetti Brothers (4723 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 994-4467, bachettis.com). This large operation has plenty of experience with disasters. “We’re the go-to folks for the Red Cross,” says vice president Kevin Varrasse. “We can put together a wedding in about six hours.”
If a baker bows out, Serpe & Sons (1411 Kirkwood Hwy., Elsmere, 994-1868, serpesbakery.com) can honor a same-day request for a formal wedding cake. Bing’s Bakery (253 E. Main St., Newark, 737-5310, bingsbakery.com) can batter up a basic sheet cake in a few hours. Looking for something different? Cake Break (7 S. First St., Rehoboth Beach, 260-9264, cakebreakrehoboth.com) can do a whimsical cupcake tower in a day or two.
Photog a no-show? Foschi Photography (2107 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 529-1339, photographybyfoschi.com) and Creative Image Associates (18 Spinet Road, Newark, 731-9142, ciaphoto.com) keep their batteries charged and photogs on standby in anticipation of that last-minute call for help.
Don’t let your wedding be remembered as the day the music died. Both DJ Express (Wilmington, 478-9432, djexpress.org) and Tom Barrett Disc Jockeys (Wilmington, 529-9200, tombarrett.com) have reserve personnel on hand for emergencies. “We deliberately under-book because situations come up,” says Barrett. As a last resort, have someone hook up their iPod to the venue’s sound system.
Getting a replacement florist is easy, provided you’re flexible. Boyd’s Flowers (2103 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 421-2900, boydsflowerconnection.com) and Bed of Roses (42 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3800, bedofrosesrehoboth.com) can satisfy last-minute requests if brides are satisfied with the in-store selection.
What to do if…your officiant fails to show
Delaware law states that anyone can do the “I do’s” provided that person is an ordained minister. Meeting that requirement is as easy as logging onto themonastery.org, the Web site of the Universal Life Church. “An online ordination takes about five minutes and it’s legal,” says Greenville wedding and event planner Erin Proud (656-6897, proudtoplan.com). “My whole staff is ordained.”
What to do if…a ring bearer or flower girl gets stage fright
Very often a child will perform well at rehearsal but freeze during the ceremony. Bribe, but never force, says Proud. More often than not, the child will be the son or daughter of a member of the wedding party or a guest, so mom or dad can try coaxing them up the aisle. Or you can have the maid-of-honor escort them, clearing the way for the bride’s entrance.
What to do if…you break a nail
You want your hands to look perfect when your fiancé slips that ring on your finger, so a broken nail simply will not do on your big day. “If you can’t get back to the salon, the best bet is to have a kit with a file, some nail glue and some polish, just like you would do with your makeup,” says Leslee Belmore, nail technician at Bad Hair Day? (45 Lake Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-4247, badhairday.biz). Better yet, reduce the chances of a mishap with a manicure a day or two before your wedding. If your nails are healthy, Belmore recommends strengthening them with a shellac polish. Nail biters can go with acrylic or gel nails.
What to do if…your heel breaks
No matter what you’ve seen in the movies, you can’t repair a broken heel with a wad of gum. Nor can you snap off the other heel and magically turn your designer stilettos into a pair of ballet flats. Broken heels are emergencies best left to professionals. But if you can’t get to a shoe repair shop, a tube of Super Glue can be a lifesaver. “It forms almost like a rock and holds anything together pretty much forever,” says Michael Flood, owner of Shoe Tech Shoe Repair (111 W. Ninth St., Wilmington, 656-0405, shoetechinc.com). That quick fix will get you through the ceremony, he says, but you’d best switch to another pair of shoes—or go barefoot—for dancing.
What to do if…your complexion throws a fit
Why is it that our bodies manifest stress where it’s most visible? Blemishes, dark circles and puffy eyes are part and parcel of pre-wedding jitters. But a skilled makeup artist can get your complexion camera-ready. “Wedding makeup is heavier than what you typically wear, plus we use a lot of primers and concealers to cover things,” says Diana Taylor, owner of Lillian Taylor Cosmetics and manager of the makeup department at Michael Christopher Salon (2006 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 658-0842, michaelchristopher.com). She also recommends a lot of pre-wedding pampering. “Drink plenty of water, limit the alcohol at the rehearsal dinner and forego skin-care treatments that might cause irritation the week before the wedding.”
What to do if…your gown doesn’t fit or gets stained
If your gown feels like a corset even after the final fitting, don’t panic. Instead, take it to either the Bridal & Tuxedo Shoppe (124 Astro Shopping Center, Newark, 731-8802, bridal-and-tuxedo.com) or Bride 2 Be by Hope Mitchell (17605 Nassau Commons Boulevard, Lewes, 645-2485, bride2bebyhope.com). Both have seamstresses on staff and can turn around most minor alterations overnight. If the situation is beyond repair, grab an off-the-rack number from the hundreds each has in stock.
Stains and soiled hemlines are inevitable. What to do? Nothing, experts say. “Home remedies tend to set the stain, making it tough on us,” says Mark Peters, owner of North Hills Cleaners (211 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, 764-1234, northhillscleaners.com). Instead, blot the stain with a white napkin or towel, then rush it to a reputable gown cleaner.
What to do if…the rings go missing
Wedding rings can escape even the most vigilant surveillance. “It’s considered ‘haunted’ to borrow someone else’s rings for your ceremony,” says event planner Jo Anne Hewlett (Newark, 731-4140, makeamemoryde.com), who recalls pulling the ring off a church fire extinguisher for a couple in need. Proud recommends buying some craft-store rings for back-up and never putting the real deals on the ring bearer’s pillow.
What to do if…your fiancée goes missing
Not a good sign, but before you panic, check the calendar. If you inadvertently—and unwisely—scheduled your wedding to coincide with a big sporting event, head to the nearest big-screen TV. Your intended and his groomsmen will likely be in front of it. But don’t expect anyone to move before the buzzer sounds or the last out gets called. “After all, somebody might score,” says Hewlett.
What to do if…someone faints or gets sick
Weddings are prime environments for fainting spells. Dehydration, stress and an empty stomach are common triggers, says Bayhealth Medical Center emergency physician Dr. Ashok Subramanian, so prepare accordingly. These events are usually not serious, so the person will come to in a few seconds. But if someone does take a run-of-the-mill nosedive, make sure they’re not hurt, then have the person lie down for 15 to 20 minutes before attempting to get up.
If a member of the wedding party catches a cold, keep her away from the bride and groom, says McConnell, who once saw a maid-of-honor get sick at the altar. If a more serious condition forces an attendant to drop out, the couple might want to reimburse their expenses.
What to do if…kids act like kids
If you invite kids, keep them occupied. Proud suggests putting small toys or activity books in the pews to keep them busy during the ceremony. You might also hire a babysitter for the reception and let them have one room to themselves. Or you can get them constructively involved in the festivities. “At one reception, the kids got disposable cameras and a list of things to shoot,” says Proud. “They took their job seriously, and the pictures were cute.”
What to do if…grown-ups act like kids
Weddings bring out the best—and worst—in people. You can hope that adversaries will bury the hatchet, or at least not wield it. But why take chances? Make sure there’s at least an aisle between them at the ceremony and that they’re seated far apart at the reception, says McConnell. Have the maid-of-honor review the best man’s toast for inappropriate content. Proud suggests recruiting the best man’s spouse or girlfriend to keep an eye on the guys to nix any pre-wedding tomfoolery.
What to do if…if your photos turn out awful
Photographs are all that remain of your wedding day, so it’s important that they be perfect. Restoration experts like Young’s Studio of Photography (134 W. Loockerman St., Dover, 734-2447, youngsstudio.com) can brighten your smile, clear your complexion, restyle your hair and even change your clothes. But if your photos were shot by another photographer, you’ll need to get permission to take them again elsewhere. Another option: re-staging some of your favorite shots, says wedding photographer Kyle Ten Eyck, owner of Modex Photography in Lewes (228-0855, modexphoto.com). His reshoot rates start at $300 an hour.