How to Move Forward After a Wedding Disaster

A red heart broken in half with bandages over it.

Most brides worry that something disastrous will happen during their wedding festivities. Whether it’s a cake dropped onto the floor or something more serious like a medical emergency with an ill loved one, chances are the potential problems have crossed your mind a time or two. In order to cope with any challenges along the way, there’s a few things one needs to consider depending on whether the “disaster” is discovered before, during, or after the wedding. In all cases, the thing you are most likely to learn is this: the world will go on. It’s not going to be fun in the moment, but in general, even a wedding disaster is possible to recover from.

Before the Wedding

A young man and woman having a discussion planning their wedding.

The whole world can seem to revolve around getting this wedding “right” when you consider balancing your own vision with family expectations and wanting your friends to have fun. The wedding planning process is stressful and a lot of so-called wedding disasters are just not in the bride’s control—which makes it easy to see a major disappointment, like the loss of a venue, as the end of the world.

One of the first things to do when you are recovering from a wedding planning disaster is to make a realistic list: what exactly has changed from your original plan? It may involve something or someone near and dear to your heart, such as a health scare that means one of your bridesmaids won’t be able to attend. However, the sooner you can make a list as a plan of attack, you can make a second list: things that won’t change. Most likely, you’ll still be marrying the love of your life, and you’ll still have someone who cares about you by your side. The other things matter, but recovering from a disaster is much better if you can take a little bit of time to appreciate what can still go well. The altered vision of your wedding can still be a positive memory.

During the Wedding

A stressed bride.

Someone gets hurt, someone doesn’t show up, something breaks: we all think about the day-of wedding disaster possibilities. However, when one of them actually happens and you’re there to witness it, the truth is that you function the same way that you would in any tough situation: remain calm, try not to make the situation about you, and figure out who needs to be involved and who can keep enjoying the festivities. Many brides feel a lot of emotions when something like this happens, especially if someone they love is in pain or ill, but it’s important to take some time alone to mentally and emotionally deal with the situation. You’d be amazed what a two-minute cry and a three-minute recovery can do for you, and that time can help you decide if it’s time for everyone to go home or if the wedding can continue.

After the Wedding

Some wedding “disasters” are shielded from the bride and groom, but cannot be masked forever. If you discover that something happened at your wedding that alters your perception of your beautiful day, it can be tempting to let it ruin those memories. For the first few hours of knowledge, you very well may grieve the perception that you had a perfect experience. However, real life is messy, and whatever happened at the wedding is now in the past. All you can do is strategize about what to do next: if the disaster is in any way your or your groom’s “fault,” think about who you can apologize to, and who you can thank for handling whatever happened. Gratitude and apologies can be two of the best steps toward closure when something happens that you don’t expect.

The truth is that no one wants a wedding disaster, but if you experience one, you almost always come to the conclusion that life goes on. Depending on the situation, you may grow closer to those you love, or you may have to take a break from some of them. You also might remember fondly or with laughter something that in the moment made you upset. You don’t have to minimize these experiences to be able to move forward: take the time you need, but then figure out what is next for you.

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