A lot of work goes into planning a wedding, from picking out the cake to choosing the venue. There are dozens of little details that are selected with purpose and reasoning. So when something happens that forces you to deal with last minute changes to your plan, it can be more than a little frustrating; it can be downright stressful! But before you totally lose your mind, take a few deep breaths and consider your options. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not even the end of your special day, just a minor hiccup in the road. So if you find yourself dealing with last minute changes, consider the following advice.
Now, as every professional event planner and project manager knows, you must have a contingency plan in place for every possible situation that could happen. When you plan your wedding, you really, really need to consider making a one, too.
It is literally impossible to account for everything that could go wrong at your wedding, but you should try to cover your bases as much as possible. For example, what will you do if your wedding photographer calls in sick? Or if it starts to rain? This plan should not only list the things that can go wrong, but how you will handle them in detail. Creating a list of strategies for disaster might sound stressful on its own, thinking of all the things that could go wrong, but in the end it’s there to help you avoid a meltdown.
You will also want to have someone in a support role to help you execute these plans. Getting ready on the day of your wedding will keep you busy, so you may not have time to call in a last minute food order and certainly not to research listings for a replacement photographer. Wedding planners are experienced professionals that can handle all of these things proficiently, but if you don’t want to shell out for a pro, just make sure you have someone you trust who won’t buckle under pressure.
Change of Date
Unfortunately, there are circumstances—a death in the family or someone falling ill—that might make it absolutely necessary to change the date of your wedding. While this can cause a lot of chaos, it might be totally unavoidable. If you find yourself having to change the date for any reason at all, it’s important that you stay as calm as possible as you go through the entire transition.
Make sure you have a new date and location (if needed) when you begin to talking to your guests and vendors about the change of plan. Do keep in mind that some of the people who RSVP’d might not be able to make a different date due to time off, scheduling conflicts, or finances. Just do you best to find something that works for as many people as possible and deal with things in stride.
This is also when having wedding insurance comes in handy, as they’ll take a huge burden out of the cost of lost deposits or cancellations with your vendors.
Change of Venue
Sometimes venues get cancelled. They shut down, they accidentally overbook, they have pipes burst; the list goes on, but when that happens you’ll find yourself left without a location and in need of some quick changes. This can be a devastating and stressful event, but there are ways to work around it.
If this happens to you, the first thing you should do is try to get your money back. Chances are the venue will be willing to refund you if the change is due to an error or accident on their part, or you might have insurance that covers it. Either way, you’ll want to have that money back to use on the new location. While in the process of seeing about a refund, see if the venue has an answer to your problem. They might own another building you can use or know of a nearby place.
Once you have a new venue, let your vendors know as soon as possible. You may even let them know before you’ve secured a new location since they may have some recommendations to throw your way; they’re likely well connected in the event business after all.
Lastly, get on the horn or in your massive mailing list to let all of your guests know right away.
It should also be in your contingency plan to have backup vendors in place. And have backups to your backup! It’s probably unlikely that a reputable vendor will completely cancel on you; they’re more likely to appoint one of their associates to step in for them. This can still be frustrating if you’ve already gotten to know your vendor intimately and now you have to work with someone new, but it’s better than nothing.
If they do completely cancel on you, go to your contract immediately. It probably states somewhere that you’re entitled to a full refund in situations that are the fault of the vendor. This is why it is important to make sure you read your contracts before you sign them when it comes to anything.
Having a list of potential replacements handy will make you last minute scramble much easier, so do your research early. Write down the numbers for multiple business that work in cakes, flowers, food, etc. so you can place smaller orders with many if no one can accommodate all your needs at the last minute.
Wedding Party Cancellations
The members of your wedding party are probably pretty significant people, and they’ll most likely want to be there for you on your special day no matter what. But, sometimes things happen and there isn’t much they can do about it.
If your maid of honor or best man have to back out last minute, see if a relative can step in so you don’t hurt any of your friends’ feelings. And if one of your bridesmaids or groomsmen aren’t available, just leave it as it is. It might be a bit of uneven, but it’s better than asking another friend who didn’t quite make the cut or someone else who you may barely know.
Wedding Guest Cancellations
Schedule conflicts might make it impossible for certain guests to make it to your wedding, even after they’ve RSVP’d. For the most important guests, like your parents, you might consider rescheduling, but for the most part, when guests have to cancel last minute, just do what you need to and move on.