Outside of maybe moving, few life events are more stressful and time-consuming than planning a wedding.
A modern wedding now takes roughly 528 hours ― or 22 full days― of planning from engagement to the big day, according to a survey by Minted. It basically becomes a part-time job; the average engaged person spends 12 hours a week planning their wedding, Minted found.
You might think that after all that planning, the lead-up to the wedding and the actual wedding day would go off without a hitch. But wedding planners say that those last few days can be some of the most stressful. Below, planners walk us through six of the most common pre-wedding emergencies, and how to avoid or address each.
Help! Our guest list is dwindling.
In the few days before the wedding, at least a few guests will have to back out of attending: Maybe someone in the family is sick, or there’s a work emergency that needs to be addressed ASAP. Inevitably, the couple getting married freaks out: “Will the extra seats be removed? We don’t want empty seats! The extra escort cards need to be removed, too!”
The fix: As long as you keep the communication clear with your venue, they’ll do their best to make sure all of these seating arrangement edits are made ― it’s to their benefit to have the correct number of seats at each table for the servers, said Stacey Sainato, the owner and lead planner at Peony Events in Morristown, New Jersey.
“With a team like that ― or if you’re working with a planner ― it’s standard to triple check the tables, count the number of chairs and correct any updates from last minute cancellations,” she said.
We forgot to follow up with a vendor!
Little things slip your mind in the lead-up to the big day. Couples often forget to schedule last minute bar deliveries, for instance, which sometimes aren’t taken care of by the catering company.
“We find that couples are focused on the larger parts of the wedding or items they have to personally bring to the venue so anything between those get lost in the shuffle,” said Sarah Campbell, the founder and CEO of Pollyanna Events, a planning company in New York, Connecticut and D.C.
This means the couple has to source the items ― beer, wine, ice ― from outside vendors on their own.
The fix: If you’re in a pinch, ask the venue if they have a short list of dependable vendors they’ve worked with in the past who you can reach out to.
And though this might not be helpful in the moment, before the big day, consider having a month-of or day-off coordinator who can help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks, Campbell suggested.
“A coordinator is a better choice than a family member, friend or venue coordinator because a month-of coordinator’s sole job is focusing on what you need and making sure everything you have planned for your wedding goes off without a hitch,” she said.
My dress doesn’t fit!
You went to your last fitting two weeks ago and though you’ve been trying to eat healthy, the stress of last-minute wedding planning may have caused you to lose weight or put on some weight. Now you can’t keep your strapless gown from sagging when you practice the walk down the aisle. (The same may be true for your bridal party; your bridesmaids may have fit issues and and there might be issues with the groomsmen’s rental tuxes, too.)
The fix: Reach out to a seamstress ― and don’t skimp on alterations or go to someone cheap.
“A good seamstress is worth her weight in gold,” said Lori Stephenson, owner of LOLA Event Productions in Chicago, Illinois.
“To avoid any last minute surprises, check in with your wedding party to make sure their outfits are in order,” she said. “Make sure all the gowns are professionally pressed or steamed before the wedding (especially if people are traveling with them) and pick a tuxedo or suit purveyor that will provide last minute alternations and delivery to the hotel or venue where everyone is getting dressing for the wedding.”
Want to have a little extra insurance? Stephenson suggests hiring a wedding dresser or making sure your planner can do simple alterations or tie a proper bowtie.
“You need to have someone on your side who isn’t afraid to go at the underlining of that Vera Wang with a nice sharp scissors if it’s dragging.”
There’s a power outage at the wedding venue.
Depending on what time of year you get married and where, it’s common for a venue to lose power at the last minute, said Lauren Grech, CEO of LLG Events and LLG Agency. Inclement weather happens: Maybe you’re having a destination island wedding and are now dealing with a hurricane or maybe there’s an unexpected snowstorm in your city.
The fix: It’s best to ask preventative questions no matter when or where you’re getting married, Grech said. But if you haven’t talked about it and the weather is increasingly getting worse, bring it up with the venue now.
“Ask about backup generators to keep the lights and heat or cooling on, what the plan is in the event your venue loses power, and make sure your venue can accommodate the amp requirements of your band or entertainment,” she said. “Some venues will require additional electricity for larger bands or entertainment.”
What if so-and-so gets too drunk?
The day of, wedding planners often run into a bridal party member or guest that’s part of the ceremony who’s enjoyed a little too much champagne prior to the wedding. Blame it on nerves, anxiety or excitement, but it’s a common issue.
The fix: If the couple knows this could be a problem, Campbell usually suggests they have limited alcohol options available before the ceremony takes place.
“Additionally, we always work with our couples to have a back-up plan in place in case someone does have one too many before the ceremony,” she said. “For example, we make sure the ceremony can go on without them, in the off-chance they need to sit some part out.”
I feel pressed for time!
Many brides feel stressed out about staying on schedule: “What if someone is running late? What if we can’t get the whole bridal party out the door in time for golden-hour pictures? And if we do run out of time, how will we get caught up?” There’s no shortage of worries over time constraints.
The fix: Recognize that you may not be able to do it all and try to maximize what time you do have. Before the wedding day, give your photographer a list of the most important photos and prioritize those above others. Take some group photos earlier in the day if you can too — it may not be golden hour, but you’ll still have them!
If you’ve hired a wedding planner, they’ll usually build a solid day of itinerary that has built in cushion time to help avoid these situations, Sainato said. If you’re planning the event on your own, try to do the same.
“It’s inevitable some will run late when dealing with large groups of people,” she said. “Aunt Nancy is running late, someone missed the shuttle, the list goes on and on. It’s important for couples to trust in the vendors they’ve hired for their special day. They will get you caught up in a timely fashion and make sure all of the pictures you wanted were taken accordingly. You can relax a little!”