Expecting the Unexpected on Your Wedding Day

You know the saying “the best laid plans…” – well, I wouldn’t be surprised if the author was thinking of weddings when he wrote it. Of course, it’s an oxymoron to plan or prepare for the unexpected, when practically anything could be an unexpected event, but as you finalise the organisation of your wedding day, at least keep in mind that anything could happen (or go wrong), and try to mentally prepare yourself to be able to handle the unpredictable on the big day.

No matter how well you plan, life is full of surprises, and your wedding day is no exception. In fact, with the organisation of a huge group of people and coordination of so many vendors, coupled with a little stress and huge anticipation, your wedding day has a higher chance than most for something unexpected to happen.

For our wedding, just a few things went ‘wrong’…

  • wet weather caused flooding, which blocked the road to Coromandel for a while (thankfully, the day before);
  • the groomsman left half the liqour (for cocktails) and a few cases of red wine back in Auckland;
  • the linen arrived in black… instead of white;
  • the cake was delivered in multiple pieces (unintentionally), in various states of disrepair and ruin;
  • we completely left my step-brother off the seating arrangements;
  • the local accommodation had overbooked our guests, leaving two vendors without a bed; and
  • the decor and glasses to be placed on the tables actually took up far too much room, leaving too little space for the food (feasting platters for guests to share from), so of course, those were promptly moved to the floor!

In fact, I’m sure there would be more ‘surprises’ if I thought long and hard about it, all I know is that we had more than our fair share of the unexpected.

So what happens when the big day of your dreams doesn’t quite go according to plan? How can you expect the unexpected, or at the very least prevent stress and angst over them from affecting your enjoyment of the day?

Change your Mindset

Planning a weddings is such a unique experience, and the way we plan and focus on the task has a tendency to make us all a little bit… fussy. In daily life, you’re probably used to handling the unforeseen, whether that’s the weather changing your weekend plans, or a clumsy coffee spill messing up your outfit as you head out the door to work, but when it comes to your wedding, the thought of it being anything less than “perfect” is a tragedy.

The reality, of course, is that it won’t be either, it probably won’t be “perfect”, but it certainly won’t be a tragedy either (and the surprises do make for the best stories). As we fret over minute details such as the stationery wording; matching flowers to decor, and everything in between, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and “see the wood for the trees” and in doing so, forget the importance and meaning in the day itself, rather than the details.

The best advice I think I can give about preparing for the unexpected for your wedding day is to keep a sense of perspective. It’s the bride and groom’s attitudes which totally determine what happens when something goes wrong at a wedding – though little things may go awry here and there, they don’t have to impact how great the day is for you both.

Don’t let the Weather determine your day

Unfortunately, you just can not book your wedding months in advance and guarantee clear skies and a fine day. As much as that’s a super-power we’d all love to have, none of us can control the weather. Even the weather reports seem to be wrong half the time, so the best thing you can do to prepare for unexpected weather is have options for all odds.

Many outdoor venues will have indoor options incase the weather turns, so to avoid disappointment on the day, it’s best to really put a plan in place for how to make that space beautiful if the unfortunate does eventuate. As far in advance as actually choosing your wedding venue, you should consider the wet-weather option and whether you’d be happy with that alternative to the outdoor space.

As well as preparing for rain (and flooding), keep in mind wind and cold – if the venue is exposed to the cold where guests will be mingling, consider having blankets available, especially for late in the evening. Strong winds may also cause you to have to rethink decor and furniture, so ensure there are ways you can decorate the space in all eventualities.

Importantly, as well as thinking about all-weather options, you need to allocate somebody else to be in charge of making changes on the day – as bride and groom, that’s not your job, so allocate a trusted friend to execute plan B.

If the weather does look risky on the day, make sure your hairstylist and makeup artist keep this in mind to ensure your hair and makeup lasts the duration of the day, for instance, an up-do might hold better in the wind than loose curls.

Remember, only you can let bad weather ruin your big day.

Decor Disappointments

If you are ordering any decorations and/or accessories for the big day, make sure you order them well in advance. This will allow you to flexibility to replace anything that is broken, or is different to what you believed you were ordering, or order more. When working with professional vendors, make sure your communication is clear, ideally with photos or drawings as well as a description of your desires. If you are ordering anything that is to be picked up close to, or on the day, such as flowers, and keep in touch with your vendor in the last couple of weeks.

Decor is a popular DIY item for weddings, so if family and friends are helping our, do make sure that they are committed, be clear on their roles and your expectations, and have everything done well in advance… just incase you need to make any changes.

Surprise Guests

Unbelievable as it might be, a situation could arise where guests show up unexpectedly. This could be anything from someone bringing along their new partner (or their child), an extra vendor staying for the meal or a couple mistakenly believing they had RSPV’d.

This can easily be resolved, with a little preparation. It’s sensible to include a couple of extra plates for catering- it is better to have too much food than too little, as well as organising meals for those vendors who will be present, such as photographers. You can ask the venue to be prepared with a few spare table settings and chairs on hand, so that any unexpected guests can slip in without a fuss (even if they do have to sit on the corner of the table like my step-brother).

Wardrobe Mishaps

Snagged fabric, stuck zippers, broken heels, the ways to ruin your wedding outfit are seemingly endless… You can’t foresee a wardrobe malfunction, but you can take precautions. Avoid red wine or any dark liquors at least until you’ve had your post-ceremony wedding photos, have a needle and thread on hand, as well as safety pins, ribbon if your dress is corsetted, and double-sided tape. These are just a few of the items suggested to put in your wedding bathroom baskets for guests, too. If possible, ask your dressmaker if there is anything that could break easily and supplies you should have on hand.

Expecting the Unexpected on Your Wedding Day The Official Photographers

Refreshments and Beverages

It’s practically impossible to predict the exact amount of refreshments and beverages for your big day, there are so many contingencies – even the weather will play a part in how much people drink, and we know how unpredictable that is! If you are supplying your own refreshments and beverages, always buy more than you think you will need – many liquor stores will allow returns, possibly with a restocking fee. Likewise, it’s better to have additional food than risk running out, even if you have to send some away with friends and family following the wedding. Many people have day after wedding brunch or lunch events the next day with friends and family, so the food could always be used then.

Personally, we way over-catered the drinks for our wedding, and three years on we still get to open a bottle of wedding wine, something I don’t mind at all!

Tight Schedule

There can be so many people and elements to try and fit into your wedding day, so having a schedule is essential. Each wedding vendor, such as your venue coordinator and caterer needs to know times of when wedding guests are arriving and the order of the day’s events. The key is to be flexible – allow extra time before and after the ceremony, longer than you think you’ll need for photos, and be open about the need to hurry things along if need be (or nix them altogether, if unimportant to you – I was happy not to have an official “cake cutting” for instance.

Focus more on the general order of events, and don’t worry too much about the day being run minute by minute. Certainly let someone else be in charge of timekeeping, such as your MC, to be able to readjust anything if need be – one less stress for you.

Silly or Embarrassing Speeches

If you are worried about having embarrassing speeches, limit those only to a few special people, such as your maid of honour, best man and parents, and speak to them in advance if need be. Ensure those speaking know not to drink too much alcohol beforehand, and if you are nervous about inappropriate stories, set boundaries about what they can and cannot talk about.

If things do turn sour (which is completely out of your control), have a signal with your MC to take the microphone from the offender.

The Awkwardly Drunk Guest

Speaking of silly and embarrassing, don’t be surprised if one or two of your guests partake a little too freely in the open bar. Sure, they might be the life of the party… until they’re not anymore – ending in tears, injuries, or a vomit covered dancefloor. Plan ahead for this ‘unexpected’ eventuality – talk to your bartender about host responsibility and let them know that you’re trusting them to make good decisions.

If you know who might cause a problem, take action before one starts, whether that’s having a quiet word to them, or the bartender, about what you expect.

Expecting the Unexpected on Your Wedding Day

Above all, when it comes to wedding day expectations, just forget the word “perfect”. Noone is perfect – people do not behave perfectly, any more than weather does, and neither can be controlled even with the best laid plans. There is no such thing as perfect, so by normalising your expectations from the outset, you prevent disappointment.

I can’t give you a perfect wedding, but I can give you the perfect tools to get organised well in advance, so have a look at the wedding planning pack and the little white book wedding organiser to get started.