Weddings, like any other event, are like intricate puzzles—they can’t quite work unless all of the pieces are present. And, no matter the size, it’s likely you’ve hired a minister, a florist, a baker, a caterer, someone to play music (either live musicians or a DJ), and possibly even a wedding coordinator to be there for you on the big day. If one of these key players doesn’t show up or is very, very late, it can quickly make you feel like things are in a tailspin. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, and more importantly, how to not let it ruin your wedding day.
First, Calm Down
Though your guttural reaction may be intense anger when someone shows up late to your wedding—particularly when you are paying the person to show up—you have to remember to be calm. People are only human, and even the most organized of us forget to write something down in our planners or mix up a time and date every once in awhile. Take a minute to breathe and calm yourself before you start contacting the person in a panic. If you are too angry—hand the phone over to the groom, a bridesmaid, or your mom if you think they could better handle it.
Then, Contact the Missing Wedding Professional
Once you have taken a moment to calm down, it’s time to start tracking down the missing vendor. Start with their cell phone number, and then work your way down to office number or any other contact information they may have shared with you like an e-mail address. As a last ditch effort, try to contact them on social media for a polite, yet urgent reminder that they were supposed to be at your wedding already. When speaking with them, be nice, but firm. Remind them of their contractual obligation to be at your wedding and that you have already paid or have a check waiting on them when they get there. Hopefully, that will be that and you can simply delay until they arrive.
In the meantime, have one of your bridesmaids tell the DJ or minister to make a brief announcement that you are waiting on so-and-so and that the ceremony will be starting shortly. If the ceremony is nearby the reception area, invite your guests to have a pre-ceremony cocktail while they wait.
What to Do If They Don’t Answer
If the missing wedding professional doesn’t answer their phone, texts, or e-mails, now you will have to start thinking of a backup plan to replace them. Depending on what kind of amenities are at or near your venue, you can somewhat easily replace the services that your florist/DJ/baker was supposed to provide.
If your wedding planner hasn’t shown up, ask a friend or a family member to step up to the plate to coordinate everything and make sure that it all goes smoothly. It would be best to ask someone who is organized and most familiar with everyone’s names and your schedule.
If your DJ or band hasn’t shown up, ask the wedding venue if they have a speaker system readily available to use. Have a friend or family member volunteer to connect their smartphone to the sound system and quickly throw together a playlist on Spotify to get the music going. Also ask for a microphone to plug in and use to make announcements. If that’s not possible, a person with a very loud voice will do in a pinch.
If your wedding cake baker hasn’t shown up, see if you can find a nearby bakery to purchase a few dozen cupcakes or other baked treats for your guests. You could also check in the bakery sections of a big box store to see if they have any smaller white cakes that you could serve on trays or platters to your guests. If there’s not enough to feed the whole wedding, make sure that you just have enough dessert for the cake cutting.
If your florist hasn’t shown up, go to the nearest grocery store and grab a bunch of pre-made bouquets that are similar to one another. Boutonnieres are tougher to find quickly, so if you have to do without them, it’ll be okay. You might even be able to have your bridesmaids or other wedding guests create makeshift bouquets out of wildflowers if you’re having an outdoor ceremony.
If your caterer hasn’t shown up, look for the nearest pizza delivery place and see how quickly they can prepare and deliver pizza to feed your entire guest list. Then, have your bridesmaids or groomsmen head to the nearest store to pick up paper plates, napkins, and silverware if none are available at your venue. Though pizza might not be fancy, it’s probably the only thing that can get there quick enough to feed a crowd—and a huge bonus that almost every single person likes pizza. If one pizza place isn’t willing to make a bunch of food at once on short notice, call every single place in town until you can get enough for you and all your guests.
If your photographer hasn’t shown up, ask family and friends to fill in with their smartphones and cameras as much as they can. It’s likely that one of your relatives has brought a camera with a real lens so that you don’t have to rely on smartphones to do the job. You can also have someone run down to the nearest big box or electronics store to purchase a camera last minute if someone is open to it.
If your minister hasn’t shown up, then things might get tricky. The officiant is the central piece of the wedding ceremony, and you need someone certified to perform the service. Though it’s important to say that it’s highly unlikely this would happen, you will need to find someone else to fill in for them immediately. If your officiant had to cancel on you, the church would probably let you know and send someone in their place like an associate pastor who is qualified to perform a ceremony.
If you do happen to find yourself in the situation of a no show, start by calling your church, or your parent’s church to see if there is anyone who is available for a wedding ceremony.
If all else fails and you can’t get anyone to fill in and your guests are starting to get antsy, just say your vows to each other and go down to city hall with your marriage license on the following weekday. The most important part of your wedding ceremony itself isn’t that it’s been made “official,” it’s that you are saying your vows in front of your friends and family. Remember that the signed marriage license is just a piece of paper.
Look At the Contract After the Wedding
After the wedding is over, be sure to carefully look over your contracts that you signed with your vendor. If they were a no show, you might have the right to get all or a part of your money back. Be sure to contact them immediately afterwards to speak to them regarding a refund as soon as possible if it applies.
Remember to Not Sweat the Small Stuff
Though it may be difficult to smile through anyone being late or not showing up to your wedding, remember that it’s your wedding day and all that matters is that you are making a commitment to another person. The minor details will be forgotten, but the commitment is what people will remember. Plus, if anyone no shows on your wedding and you have to improvise, it’ll be a great story that you can laugh about one day.