When Weddings Go Awry

So, just recently I learned of a local dress shop that closed its doors, leaving dozens of brides in the lurch right before their wedding day. While I know this doesn’t happen all the time, it does often enough that we wedding planners should prepare our clients with the “What to do” when a vendor closes its doors or pulls a no-show on your big day. So here goes!

1. Your Dress – Obviously this is one that is on my mind, just because of the recent happenings. And, I’m sure when you said “Yes to the dress”, the last thing you imagined was that it would never be finished. So, when this happens, you do have options. First things first, call the shop and leave a message. Then, drive there and knock on the door – sometimes they won’t answer the phone but they’ll be at the shop. If they are, get your dress and have a seamstress finish it for you. If you can’t get your hands on it, don’t panic. You do have some other options for last minute attire. Luckily, here in the Northwest, we are graced with Nordstrom. And, if you didn’t know it, they have an amazing online bridal store with hundreds of dresses, all styles, all types and all prices, even a huge supply under the $200 mark! So, in a pinch, order a new dress. And, if it doesn’t fit or you just don’t like it, you can return it!! Plus, they have hundreds of bridesmaid and Mother-of-the-bride dresses to choose from as well. I know it’s not your ideal situation but at least you won’t be walking down the aisle in shorts and a t-shirt!

2. The Caterer – This can be a costly situation if your caterer shuts its doors or just doesn’t show up. Especially if you put down a deposit. My advice is to negotiate to make sure your final payment isn’t due until they arrive with the food. That way, if they don’t come, you aren’t out the entire amount, leaving you a nice chunk to quickly make alternate choices. In this situation, quickly contact local reputable restaurants and ask to speak with the manager. Explain the situation, tell them your guest count and your budget (can you afford a bit more??) and see how quickly they can make your day. When they arrive and save the day, make sure to send them a huge thank you review on Yelp. It can really help them out!

3. Flowers – This can be an easy fix. If your florist leaves you without a bouquet, don’t panic. Head to your local Michael’s store, grab some florist wire and green tape, a roll of ribbon and then head to the grocery store or your local farmer’s market. You can quickly put together a few bouquets – don’t forget to go online and research how to put it together. Typically on You-Tube, you’ll find a quick video. Grab your family and friends and, trust me, they’ll jump in to help. Then, while at the market, grab a few bunches of flowers and a few packs of mason jars. Throw a handful of flowers in each and you have your centerpieces. Top it off with candles and you’ve saved the day!

4. The Photographer – Although this is the worst thing to not have show up (because once it’s all said and done, you only have photos after the day is over), it’s not the end of the world. There are tons of photographers out there and chances are someone has the day available. So, get a friend on the phone and start making calls. Worst case scenario, hit up your social media and see if you have an amateur photographer friend that can step in. Who knows, you may end up liking them even better!

5. The Cake – Well, think of it this way – not everyone likes cake!! But, to make the rest happy and continue with long-standing traditions, let there be cake. Head to your local grocery store. Safeway is known for great wedding cakes, in case you didn’t know! Now, it might not be fondant and fancy, but it’s cake and it’s tasty. If it’s the day of the wedding, don’t expect a 6-tiered fancy centerpiece. However, they could quickly make a top-layer for the happy couple to cut and get sheet cakes to cut for your guests in the kitchen. Nobody will be any the wiser. And, if you want to have a larger presentation, do what is quite popular and have a dessert station. Get the top tier on a nice stand in the middle of your dessert table so it stands out. Then, fill in the rest of the table with other fun desserts – everything from lemon bars to cheesecake. Your guests will be none the wiser and everyone will find something to nibble on. Nobody will ever know if you don’t mention it!

6. Music – Honestly, this is the one that should be of least concern. Most venues these days have built in speakers or an ipod hook up. If not, I’m sure one of your friends has a docking station. Worst case scenario, make some calls. Trust me, you’ll find someone to be in charge of the music. And, if you’re lucky, you might be able to find a rental company that rents speakers, a mic and an amplifier. Do a quickie set up and keep the ipod tunes rolling all night.

7. The Venue – Believe it or not, we have known of brides and grooms that head down for their rehearsal or wedding and the doors are chained shut. What do you do??? Well, if you are willing to be flexible, then it really doesn’t matter where you have the ceremony, but that you do have it! So, get creative. Is there a local school/university campus that is big enough to host a ceremony under the trees? How about a local botanic garden? Park? Or even a friend’s home that’s big enough to host? Trust me, in a pinch, people will come out of the woodwork to make your day special. Don’t forget to hit up your social media again, especially local wedding vendor community pages. There just might be a venue that is available and can help you out at a good price.

Once you find a new place, start making phone calls. I know you won’t be able to reach everyone but this will get the word out. Then, have a friend, family member, husband of one of your bridesmaids, someone that isn’t already part of your big day, print off a flier to hand out to guests arriving at your old venue, giving them directions to the new place. Have your ceremony start 30 minutes later to give everyone time to arrive. You can quickly make up the time by cutting out some of your dancing. I know it’s not your ideal situation but at least everyone will be there to help you celebrate!

I know there are more things that could go wrong, but this will get you through the majority of the issues. And, believe me, I also know that none of you want to ever believe that this could happen to you! But, if it does, wouldn’t it be nice to be prepared?? Happy planning!