Wedding Disasters That Didn’t Happen – and Why

When you hire true professionals as your wedding vendors, you get so much more than just people who are competent at photography, music, decorating or whatever. You get an expert disaster preparedness team that can save your day from any number of potential crises. Here are just a few things you and your vendors can do to disaster-proof your wedding.

The rainout. Planning an outdoor wedding is always an act of faith. Plan for the worst, so you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the sun comes out. Be sure your ceremony venue has a “Plan B,” whether it’s a tent or an alternate ceremony room indoors. We had one couple seat all of their guests under small tents, while the bridal party stood there in the rain, all wearing colorful matching polka-dot rain boots. They weren’t about to let a little rain ruin their good time.
Delays. Your post-ceremony family photos typically take longer than expected, and they can push back your entire evening’s timetable. So either arrange for your photographer to take more of those shots before the ceremony, or just allow more time between the ceremony and the reception.
The great collapsing cake. This can happen at an outdoor wedding, or any wedding where a lot of small children are buzzing around the cake table. Here’s an idea: have your baker create a cardboard “stunt cake,” frosted and decorated to look like your real one, to display until your guests are safely seated. Then bring out the real one.
The endless speech(es). Try to avoid having 5 or 6 speeches before dinner. Everyone will take longer than expected, your guests will get cranky, and your dinner will get cold. The Best Man and Maid of Honor may speak, along with whoever is offering the prayer. All other speeches can be scheduled as dinner is being served. 
The drunken wedding toast. When you serve alcohol at your reception, each passing hour quadruples the risk that your Best Man or one of your groomsmen or friends will be well-oiled by the time he takes mic in hand. And a big embarrassment will almost certainly follow. Get your toasts out of the way early, then tell your DJ to shut off the mic for the rest of the night.
Vendors with attitude. We’ve all heard stories about photographers, DJs and other vendors who act as though it’s their party, not yours, and everything should be done for their convenience, not yours. Some smart homework will keep these people off your vendor list. Look for vendor reviews on Wedding Wire and Yelp with words like “helpful,” “flexible,” “calm,” “easy-going” and “easy to work with.”

Who’s this guy? If you hire a DJ or photography company with lots of employees, be sure your contract stipulates that, once you’ve been assigned your DJ or photographer, and you’ve met with him/her to ensure that you’re comfortable with him/her, the company can’t switch people on you without your permission; and if it does, the company agrees to give you a full refund and let you out of your contract at your option. You’ll decrease your risk of a disaster by 95%.
Planning a wedding is like learning karate: you learn how to fight so you won’t have to fight. And you prepare for disaster so you won’t have to face one.

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© Fourth Estate Audio, 2014 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.

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