There are seemingly countless nightmare scenarios when it comes to the big day, and we prefer not to think about most of them. But one potential that you might want to consider — just to be safe — is your ceremony or reception location suddenly falling through. It's highly unlikely but when it does happen, it can be disastrous. So what are a bride and groom to do?
If it falls through in the midst of planning...
Being prepared ahead of time for this kind of worst-case scenario is the best way to make sure it doesn't ruin your day. Do a ton of research to find out which venues are the most highly rated and reliable before making an investment.
"My biggest piece of advice is to work with a reputable wedding planner who will only recommend venues that are tried and true," says Michelle Gainey, owner, lead planner, and designer at Atlanta-based Lemiga Events. "We can help save some of the heartache."
Gainey has had to pivot around difficult issues including inclement weather, a venue catching fire, one closing due to bankruptcy, and a wedding that had been booked when a major festival would be taking place nearby.
"We have a team of vendors we work closely with and we try to come up with an alternate plan," she says.
But this type of professional network might be inaccessible to couples who haven't enlisted the help of a planner. If you're not able to hire one, Gainey recommends appointing someone you trust to take the lead on any issues that arise the day of, whether it's a maid of honor, a family member, or a proactive aunt. This will help take some of the stress off of you and your future husband.
Once you've selected a venue, you'll want to make sure that you have a written contract with specified terms of agreement. You might also want to consider wedding insurance, which can offer some financial protection.
If it falls through just before the big day...
As the wedding approaches, good communication is key. Gainey recommends doing a final walk-through at the venue and with all vendors around 30 days prior to the big event to confirm the details. Brides and grooms should also make final phone calls the week of the wedding to reconfirm and tie up any loose ends.
To keep lines of communication open, Lindsay Landman, president and creative director of Lindsay Landman Events in New York, suggests giving vendors more than just your cell. When you're having your hair and makeup done the morning of your wedding, you're probably not worried about checking voicemails. So be sure to give the vendor your fiancés contact information, as well as your mom's or someone else who will be nearby.
If it falls through the day of your wedding...
Thankfully, same-day cancelation is extremely rare, according to Landman, who says that you're likely to have at least a few days' warning. That said, if the location does fail on the big day, she recommends first alerting all guests.
The next step is to evaluate the situation. Would you and your fiancé rather reschedule the wedding and get married weeks or months later, or do you really want to tie the knot that day no matter what?
"if you have a ton of family and friends who have flown in, you have to find some way to make the best use of the day," Gainey says. On the flip side, if everyone is local and you're amenable to postponing the event, you can certainly call everyone and let them know.
Once you've made that key decision, you need to figure out where you stand with all of the other vendors. If they're available on another feasible date then you can probably postpone your nuptials. If not, you may need to reevaluate. And don't forget to consider any lost deposits.
If you decide to stick with the current day, ask the other venues that you considered whether they're able to host your wedding. For this reason, it's important not to burn any bridges while you're planning, Landman says.
"Know your location and your surroundings so you can start reaching out to places nearby," adds Stacy McCain of Stacy McCain Event Planning in Northern California. She suggests thinking of anything with indoor space, including restaurants, wineries, art galleries, and mixed-use spaces (like a warehouse that's turns into a nightclub).
And it's never too late to hire a coordinator. McCain says that when she's already booked, she always has a list of great colleagues and other planners she can recommend.