No matter how many times you cross your t’s and dot your i’s, wedding-day chaos is an expected part of any large event. If you’re among those brides who has the financial resources to hire a wedding planner, you might be saved from more of the unexpected disturbances than you realize, especially since part of this professional’s job is to keep you calm, cool, collected, and clam-happy. Because they’ve been through the ebbs and flows of weddings, often using their problem-solving ninja skills on the fly, they know how to expertly manage any power outage, drunken groomsman, or MIA violinists.
Here, wedding planners and vendors share the most stressful moments from their careers:
That time the AC broke down with all the flowers.
Caroline Bailly, the owner of the floral and event design company L’Atelier Rouge, has created countless floral arrangements for hundreds of couples over the years. Last summer, a twosome selected a specific type of flower that proved to be very fragile in the dead of the scorching heat. Unfortunately—and unexpectedly—the air conditioning broke down in the tent after the installation was completed.
“There was a lot of running back and forth to the refrigerated truck because there was nowhere else to hide the flowers for them not to die right before the wedding started. It was a nightmare, but it ended up beautiful and all good when the ceremony began,” she explained. As a toast to the dedication of her staff—and, ahem, she left the night seeing grins from the new couple—she downed a bottle of champagne once she got home.
That time when everything that could go wrong, did.
For the owner and creative director of Aribella Events, Tonia Adleta, it seemed like a day that was destined for success, especially since the planning period was a brief one, without many complications. Since most military weddings tend to be put together faster than other types, Adleta was pleased to secure a Instagram-worthy church in downtown Philadelphia for the ceremony and a nice hotel for the reception. The couple selected some vendors, but to save money, they found a transportation company, a DJ, and a bakery on their own.
This is where the trouble brewed from, right from the morning, when the shuttle driver got lost, causing the bride to leave her hair appointment early to redirect the drive and pick up family members. Then, an hour before the ceremony, several blocks in the area lost power, including the church’s. “I immediately went scavenging through the church to gather candles to light the chapel altar, which was lined in gorgeous wood paneling. It was beautiful but already a very dark room,” she recalled. “When the power went out, we learned that the DJ had no backup equipment with him whatsoever.
To ensure the bride still had her selected music, I cued the processional music on my phone and the recessional song on my laptop.”
Did it end there? Nope. Because the bride had selected a tiered cake from a local grocery story, the quality wasn’t quite on par with what Adleta would have recommended. “Just moments into the reception, the ceramic cake topper fell off the back of the cake. After a quick catch and removal of some frosting, I was able to repurpose some fresh flowers for the top tier and give the cake topper a place of prominence with the knife set next to the cake,” she shared.
That time the best man forgot the groom’s ring—halfway across town.
The basic bullet points of a best man’s job description? Plan the bachelor party, speak at the reception, and hold on tight to those wedding bands. Unfortunately for wedding planner Emily Sullivan, one best man failed to bring the key accessory to the ceremony. While that’s normally not a big deal and can be remedied with a quick jaunt upstairs, the wedding was taking place in New Orleans—during Mardi Gras. “As expected, traffic was a nightmare; you couldn’t move around at all. While my assistant was running about a mile to get to the hotel and back, I borrowed a ring from a man in the crowd who was about the same size, and we used that for the ceremony.
She made it back in time for the priest to bless the actual rings after,” she shared.
That time drunken guests jumped into the river.
When a couple imagines their wedding, it’s not just about exchanging vows and cementing their lives together but sharing that special moment with those they love the most. While drunken singing, plenty of dancing, and eruptive laughter is all encouraged at a reception, when guests endanger their own lives, it becomes a different situation. Wedding planner Crystal Salazar found herself working a beautiful wedding, with ideal weather, a sweet bride and groom, and guests who were having so much fun that they jumped into a river at the end of the night.
“Every sort of emergency vehicle for land or a waterway came rushing to the scene, only for the guest to be discovered in perfectly good health an hour later. I spent 60 minutes worried this guest had jumped to his death, but it turns out the alcohol made him incredibly resilient,” she shared. “After we knew he was safe, I took solace knowing he was sitting in custody sobering up. I was so relieved to tell the wedding party he was safe and went home with a clear head. Though I’ve always had business insurance, I upped my policy after this incident.”
That time the decorator dropped the ball.
As a wedding planner’s business grows, so does his or her network of contacts. These trusted vendors are the pieces that put the big-day puzzle together, so when they don’t show up, ready to impress? It can wreck an otherwise seamless day. When wedding planner Nahid Farhoud showed up to inspect one ceremony, she was flabbergasted at the lackluster work of the decorating team. Not only did they show up late, but they didn’t follow the instructions and wishes of the bride. Her only choice? Pull up her sleeves and get to work.
“I had to call in three other planners to help, in addition to my four assistants, to complete the job. We started making centerpieces, putting draping on the chuppah/mandap, covering the stage with white panels, setting up and decorating the chairs, placing rose petals down the aisle, and generally cleaning up the mess,” she explained.
Her work wasn’t finished either once she arrived to dinner, discovering more of a disaster. “The market lights kept tripping, so I had to work with hotel engineering in reconnecting the lights and using the hotel’s extension cords. We then had to improvise, using all the uplights from the after-party so we could provide more lighting for the outside dinner,” she said. “In the end, it was all about adapting and making sure a proper plan B was in place. Luckily, the couple was unaware of the issues during the event, so they could simply enjoy their day.”
That time the bride’s father disappeared.
Even if a couple feels like they were meant to be, sometimes families don’t quite agree. At least for wedding planner Gina Wade, dealing with the opinions on two sides of opposites roads was enough to make her sweat. One wedding, in particular, had her struggling to keep her level head. “On the day of the wedding, the issues came to a head and the father of the bride disappeared. We literally could not find him for over an hour. When we finally located him, he was visibly upset and it took a little coaxing to get him to go and get dressed for the wedding so that we could move on,” she explained.
“I did my best to console him, listen to him vent his concerns, and encourage him to accept the fact that his daughter was happy and his absence from her wedding would break her heart. He attended the wedding and seemed fine the rest of the night. Whew!”