Disaster 1. A bridesmaid, guest, or you spill a drink and it stains your wedding dress.
Avoid it: Repeat after us: I will not drink pinot noir or cosmopolitans on my wedding night. For the day of, stick to champagne, white wine, or better yet -- seltzer or water. And though you can't stay away from every red wine drinker in the room, just try to stay aware of where their drink is.
If it's too late: Try not to let it ruin your night. The person who spilled the drink is probably sufficiently mortified, so there's no reason to get angry. Try using a damp cloth to blot out what you can, and then get back out on the dance floor. If you're worried about preserving the gown, there are bridal companies that specialize in cleaning and preserving gowns and can work wonders these days. Worst case scenario ios this happens before your photos and you'll just have one more excuse to put the dress back on for another photo op with your new husband.
Disaster 2. One of your bridesmaids or groomsmen is MIA.
Avoid it: If someone in your bridal party is notoriously not a morning person, don't just ignore it and hope for the best the day of your wedding. Talk to them ahead of time about setting a couple of alarms for the morning. Or, suggest they spend the night with another attendant who will make sure they're up on time. If those options don't work, designate someone else to call first thing in the morning and make sure he or she is out of bed.
If it's too late: Remember, the show must go on. If your attendant doesn’t make it to the ceremony, see if he or she can meet up for the photos. Rearrange the processional and double up if needed so nothing looks out of place. Don't forget to bite your tongue when the attendant does show up. You only have one wedding day, and you shouldn't let anyone visibly upset you.
Disaster 3. An unexpected force of nature threatens your perfectly planned outdoor event.
Avoid it: You've heard us say it a million times, but it's true: Have a rain plan (and a heat wave plan and a tsunami plan!). Whether it's setting up a tent or moving the entire wedding indoors, make sure there's an alternative venue for an outdoor wedding. Better yet, if your heart's set on an outdoor celebration, avoid certain months (like April) that are notorious for bad weather.
If it's too late: Send a bridesmaid out to buy everyone umbrellas so you don't all have to spend the reception huddled under a small awning. If you've checked the forecast that morning and know it's going to rain, work with the venue to see if they have any last minute options. If just part of your reception is outdoors, like the cocktail hour, simply move up the schedule to enjoy the indoor dining part of the night.
Disaster 4. Unexpected guests show up -- lots of them!
Avoid it: Let's be clear on one thing: It is never acceptable to attend a wedding that you have not RSVP'd to or decide to attend without talking to the bride or groom first. If there are some MIA guests after the RSVP deadline, sit down with your mother or fiancé, and start reaching out to those guests individually asking for a firm response.
If it's too late: If a few guests end up bringing a plus one, don't panic. This is exactly why you hired a day-of coordinator. Let her deal with the caterer and figure out if there's a possibility of getting some extra food and squeezing in a few more chairs. If you don't have a coordinator, ask one of your bridesmaids if they can help out. But don't let a few extra guests spoil the night, chances are they arrived with the best intentions.
Disaster 5. One of your bridesmaids, who recently broke up with her boyfriend, gets drunk and starts making a teary scene at the reception.
Avoid it: Even though the weeks leading up to your wedding will be hectic, if one of your bridesmaids has just had a bad break up, try to find time to be there for her. Getting her spirits up means you'll both have more fun the day of the wedding, and she'll be less likely to get emotional over her situation.
If it's too late: Have another bridesmaid quietly escort the weepy maid to the bathroom and try to cheer her up. Give her a glass of water, a few tissues, and chances are in five minutes, she'll be back to normal. Whatever happens though, don't let her take up too much of your time -- or your other bridesmaids' time. The night shouldn't be about babysitting, and she may need a few minutes to herself anyway.
Disaster 6. During the ceremony, a baby won't stop crying or someone's cell phone rings incessantly.
Avoid it: If you're worried that a crying child might ruin the solemn moments your ceremony, consider asking your guests not to bring their very young children. If there are several kids, you might consider hiring a babysitter for the ceremony so their parents can still attend. As for the cell phones, have a groomsman or usher discreetly make an announcement before the processional reminding guests to turn them off.
If it's too late: Hopefully your guests with the crying child will quietly exit the ceremony. You can always suggest that the ushers sit them near the back so they can slip out easily if needed. If someone’s cell keeps ringing, try to laugh it off or maybe even venture a joke about it. As long as you stay calm, it won’t ruin the entire ceremony and we can bet they’ll be embarrassed enough.
Disaster 7. During his toast, the best man says something wildly inappropriate about your not-so-PG-rated first date and the room goes dead silent.
Avoid it: Let your best man, maid of honor, and anyone else who's giving a toast know ahead of time what’s acceptable and what’s not. You don't have to ask them to lie, but they don't need to harp on about you living together if you know it's a sore spot with grandma. Give them some barriers, and remind them that a good toast should be short and sweet.
If it's too late: Move on as quickly as possible. Perhaps the groom can stand and diffuse the situation with a quick recovery, "To my lovely bride. Cheers!" and move things along without giving people too much time to dwell on the faux pas. Moreover, remember that it's your day, and no one is judging you.
Disaster 8. At the last minute, your future mother-in-law changes her outfit choice -- to something atrocious.
Avoid it: Talk to everyone in your family -- and his -- about what they're wearing to the wedding. If it's important to you, let them know you'd really like them to stay within a certain color scheme or style. Get your fiance on your side to make sure he lets his parents know how important it is to you.
If it's too late: Grin and bear it. Remember, everyone will be looking at you and the groom in the photos anyway. Try not to get upset with your future mother-in-law; it's not worth starting off your relationship on the wrong foot.
Disaster 9. Your flower girl refuses to walk down the aisle.
Avoid it: Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to kids. Often, flower girls and ring bearers do fine at the rehearsal (when it's only close friends and family) and get scared when they see 150 people filling the pews. Prepare her for the crowd ahead of time by talking to her and consider having a bridesmaid walk down with her if she's really nervous.
If it's too late: Keep your maid of honor close by, so she can swoop in and save the day, walking down the aisle with her. It's easy to let kids steal the scene, and the best way to minimize the damage is to just keep the ceremony going.
Disaster 10. One of the guests has an allergic reaction to the food.
Avoid it: Encourage your guests to note any specific food allergies on the RSVP cards. A simple line like, "Please let us know if you have any food allergies or other dietary concerns," should suffice.
If it's too late: Get your guest help. Depending on how serious the situation is, grab the maitre d' and have him come to the rescue. Or, if it's still early enough on the day of, ask if the caterer can prepare a special plate for your guest. Most will be very accommodating.
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