wedding plans are humming along, but every now and then you wake up at
night in a cold sweat, dreams of "what if" dancing in your head:
"What if I fall as I walk down the aisle? What if the caterer serves
The events of September 11th have put the word "disaster" in
perspective, of course. What we used to call "wedding disasters"
-- the ripped hem, the no-show vendor -- are more realistically referred
to as "wedding mishaps." But still. No one wants to deal with
wedding-day bad news, especially when there are ways to lessen your odds
against it. To problem-proof your celebration, we have collected some
not-so-uncommon stories of wedding goofs, with suggestions for avoiding
them. Keep in mind that although mishaps may happen, there is almost
nothing that can ruin a wedding.
The great cake collapse
The tale to tell: Every wedding consultant seems to have a
splattered wedding-cake story. Consultant Joyce Scardina Becker of Events
of Distinction worked at a wedding with an outdoor dance floor,
constructed over a sub-floor. When two hundred people began to boogie, the
floor shuddered, the cake table began to shiver, and the top tier of the
four-tier confection began to lean" and lean further. Scardina-Becker
had already had an experience in which a cake actually fell, so this time
she took no chances. As the cake sloped more precariously, she took the
top tier off and packed it away, along with the decorations. It was served
by the bride’s family at brunch the next day.
The trick to avoid: Be sure to find a secure spot for your
confection, away from the dance floor and the general hubbub of your
The gown that wouldn't give
The tale to tell: Consultant Carolyn Hefner was helping a bride
dress for her wedding in Michigan, when, to Hefner’s horror, the bride
mentioned that her seamstress in New York had just recently "taken a
final detail to the zipper to make it lay flat." Sure enough, the
zipper would not budge five inches from the top of the gown. The
bridesmaids, the photographer, the makeup artist, and Carolyn all took
turns trying to inch the zipper up, all to no avail. As the frantic bride
began to sweat, Carolyn called the hotel’s front desk. Minutes later, a
seamstress appeared and eased the zipper to the top.
JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions recalls a day spent sewing and
re-sewing a bridal party into dresses that were cut "like Morticia
Addams" and that kept ripping right up the back. Jean Bodwin of After
The Proposal Wedding Consultants had a very close call with a broken
zipper on a bridesmaid dress that had never been tried on after
alterations: In this case, a family friend actually sped off to a nearby
boutique and replaced the dress before the wedding began.
The trick to avoid: Always be sure to have a "dress
rehearsal." A week or so before the wedding day, a photo session of
the bride in her ensemble to get some of the formal shots done often heads
off problems with the gown, the veil, or the hairstyle. Bridesmaids should
be asked to try on their own ensembles after alterations, but well before
the big event.
The dinner deemed damning
The tale to tell: True story: The groom’s family is Jewish, and
keeps a kosher home, the bride is Christian. For their wedding, they agree
to serve a "kosher-style" menu, observing the basic rules of
keeping kosher -- no mixing meat and dairy, no shellfish. On the day of
the wedding, one of the entrees seemed different from what the couple had
ordered, and when they returned from their honeymoon, the bride called to
inquire about the change. The caterer replied, that "actually, the
menu had been ‘upgraded’ for free" -- the fish had been stuffed
with crabmeat, a kosher no-no.
The trick to avoid: If you have specific food issues -- allergies
or religious requirements -- that simply cannot be violated, it is most
important that the caterer be very aware of them. Be specific, be very
insistent, and most importantly, put it in the contract.
The wedding in the tempest
The tale to tell: Ask consultant Abby Gordon of Hopple Popple about
her most "disastrous wedding ever" and her answer will make your
palms sweat: "The entire cocktail tent was torn from its anchors and
blew over a sea wall" the chairs and linens were blown out to sea --
lightning struck the church [before guests arrived], so the ceremony was
held with no lights at all -- lightning struck the main tent, jolting two
electricians". Even the most controlling bride-to-be must admit, the
weather is simply beyond anyone’s control. Storms like the one described
above are rare, but rain can put a true damper on a tent wedding.
The trick to avoid: Consultant Melissa Paul has seen her share of
wet, grumpy wedding guests and offers a wealth of advice for
weather-proofing a party: Always reserve an alternate space if you are
planning an outdoor/tent wedding. Arrange tents for the ceremony,
cocktails, and reception so that guests don’t need to run through a
downpour at any time. Spend the extra bucks and get the tent with
sidewalls all around and eaves over the walkways. Hire an attendant to
start the heaters, drop the walls, and otherwise look after things. Hire a
valet service so that guests won’t have to walk through the rain. And
finally, always have lots and lots of big golf umbrellas on hand.
The day the music stopped
The tale to tell: No one knows who was more shocked at Alanna and
Paul’s wedding when the band chose to play "Sexual Healing,"
just as the couple’s parents took to the dance floor for their moment in
the spotlight -- the newlyweds or Mom and Dad. "It was, I must say,
the most awkward moment there," says Alanna. "We laughed it off,
of course, but it was just ridiculous."
The trick to avoid: Every couple knows to tell the band or disc
jockey which songs to play for the important wedding dances and what their
favorite "get everyone dancing tunes" are. But if you have
strong opinions about music, it may make sense to take things one step
further and make a list of songs that you despise, and which must not be
played at the wedding. And for some, even that is not enough. One bride,
enraged at hearing her disc jockey play the forbidden
"Macarena," recommends driving the point home clearly by having
the bandleader or disc jockey sign the list of no-play tunes.
-- Lisa Carse
2003 The Knot Inc. All rights reserved.