Quick Fixes for Demi-Disasters

Don't let a few simple problems spoil your day. Be ready to improvise and you'll keep your wedding on track.

I’ve been to so many weddings — so many beautiful weddings.  While none of them turned into sitcom style wedding fiascos, I can’t honestly say that any of them have gone off without a single hitch.

The problems have included: DJs who botched the wedding party’s names (even the bride’s!);  food that ran out before the bride and groom arrived; music that wasn’t properly timed; stained wedding gowns and torn bustles;  florists delivering the wrong flowers; photographers who highjacked the couple’s timeline; champagne that wasn’t delivered to the head table until after the toast; crooked wedding cakes; malfunctioning microphones; and one fainting bridesmaid (she was all right!).

In spite of all this, they were all fantastic weddings — because the bride, the groom, and the rest of the wedding party quickly regrouped, which kept the guests’ focus on the beautiful event at hand instead of the small glitches.

So don’t let yourself worry over what could go wrong on your big day.  Just prepare yourself to calmly face a few snags here and there, and you’ll be ready for anything.

Even an elephant in your church parking lot.  Yes, one bride I know of actually arrived for her wedding as a circus vacated the premises.

Here are some quick fixes for common wedding day dilemmas.

The flowers don’t arrive on time.

Sometimes vendors can mess up — big time.  If you don’t want to or can’t hold the ceremony up for your bouquets, act quickly!  If you know the florist will be late with enough time to spare, send a friend to a nearby grocery store to buy fresh roses.  If there’s no time to lose, rob arrangements already decorating the venue, snatch a quick handful of flowers from outside, or have the bride carry a Bible, Torah, or a sentimental object such as a handkerchief.  Or let the bride walk in carrying her groom’s wedding ring.

Flowers not on time? Grab a makeshift bouquet from a nearby garden or field.

Flowers not on time? Grab a makeshift bouquet from a nearby garden or field.


The best man forgets the wedding rings.

This happens more frequently than you might expect.  Simply smile — and ask a set of parents, or another couple you’re close to, if you may borrow theirs for the ceremony.  Later on, your officiant may be willing to conduct a private ring exchange if it’s important to you that you swap your actual rings ceremony.

The flower girl or ring bearer gets stage fright.

If the child in question is already at the back of the church, standing in the middle of the aisle like a a little fawn in the headlights, have your wedding coordinator, a friend, or ideally one of the child’s family members simply walk with him or her down the aisle.  This happened at my friends’ Luke and Tiffany’s wedding in June — and they have some adorable pictures of the bride’s friend Julie guiding Luke’s nervous niece to the alter.

The officiant mispronounces — or mistakes — your name.

This is another common one.  One bride I interviewed told me that, in spite of practicing and practicing, the pastor mispronounced her husband’s name during the ceremony — and when the couple, in unison corrected him, their guests loved it!  Just relax, quickly and quietly correct the mistake, and let the ceremony proceed.

Your gown gets stained.

Few things can strike fear into the heart of a bride like the thought of a spot popping up on her dress.  First, remove anything solid, like clumps of food.  Then carefully blot the stain.  Next, with a damp cloth, remove the color, working from the outside of the stain in so that you don’t spread the stain across the fabric.  Finish up with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture, and dust with a coating a baby powder.

Un-RSVPed guests show up.

This is one time when you just have to suck it up and be polite.  Ask your wedding coordinator or site coordinator to find the extras guests an empty chair — perhaps the table set up for your photographer and other vendors will have some extra room, or just add another chair to a table.  If you’re having a plated dinner, tell the kitchen to bring the extra guest(s) whichever meal they have plenty of — don’t serve the add-on guests their choice of food before RSVPed guests if there’s a chance the filet mignon or sea bass could run out before all the guests who requested it (as per your response card) are served.

Your DJ hijacks the party.

Whether the DJ plays down-and-dirty rap that has your churchgoing family reeling or simply isn’t showing any enthusiasm to get the dance floor hopping, you have a right to step in. That said, be diplomatic — and consider tapping a level-headed member of your wedding party to do the job. One wedding I went to involved a DJ so dull that a groomsmen took over the turntables! Just stay calm, and politely ask the DJ to stick to whatever guidelines you set together when you signed the contract.

Tipsy guests begin making a scene.

If you’re offering up free booze, there’s a good possibility someone will take advantage of your generosity.  Your high school pal might put her R-rated exotic dancing skills on display, your husband’s old roommate may shamelessly hit on your matron of honor, and your co-worker could keep up a shrill running commentary comparing your low-class wedding to her ultra-elegant affair. Whatever you do, keep your cool and don’t sink to the offender’s level. But do use your judgment — and if the person who is worse-for-the-wine is causing problems for other guests, you’re within your rights to call him or her a cab.

You forget your vows.

No matter how much time and thought you put into crafting your vows, stage fright or overwhelming emotions may get the better of you. Make sure your officiant or honor attendant has a copy of your vows, in case you forget your own notes. Have a plan ready in case you stumble: either read your vows off your attendant’s copy, or have your officiant step-by-step you through your vows.

Your bustle breaks.

For my friend Karlyn, all it took was one misstep, a loud snap!, and just like that, her bustle was crooked. But you can fix a ripped bustle tie the same way we did as long as you have extra string — and a few safety pins! — on hand.  Simply find the spot where the tie broke, and reattach the skirt at the same place.

The cake is crooked — or sinking, or undecorated, or…

When it comes to something as tricky as a multi-layered wedding cake, mistakes are bound to happen.  But it’s never good when the mistake happens on your cake!  There are a few easy ways to disguise minor flaws, though.  If your cake is leaning, just make sure the leaning side faces away from your guests — it won’t be as noticeable if it’s leaning backward as if it’s leaning sideways.  If the decorations are wrong, remove any offending sugar paste and fill in with clean cut flowers.  If the edges of the cake are smushed, hide them with other decorations, such as a garland or greenery.

Obviously, there are plenty more possible problems out there, but approach them all with an easy-going attitude and a clear perspective: it may be your big party, but it doesn’t have to be perfect for you to have a great time.

~ Laura

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