How to avoid-or make the best of-those bad situations

How to avoid-or make the best of-those bad situations

A violently ill groom, a hopelessly split zipper, a cloudburst moments before the outdoor reception is to begin: Local wedding planners have seen it all–and, in most cases, have managed to work around the unexpected.

"I've been doing this for 12 years and I actually keep a running list of all the things that have gone wrong," says Emilie Duncan, owner and wedding planner for Emilie Duncan Event Planning in Worthington. "I had a cake flip over at the very first wedding I did. They didn't use a baker; they used a friend. And when the person set it up, the top layer slid right off."

The key to surviving both major and minor mishaps on what should be the most memorable day of your life is to remain calm and be flexible.

"I had a bride who got out of the limo to do a first look with the groom and ended up with a big oil stain about the size of a dinner plate on her gown," Duncan says. "Nothing was going to get out the oil, so we bustled her gown instead of wearing it down."

Similarly, while setting up a reception on a deck overlooking the beach in the Outer Banks for a Columbus couple's destination wedding, event planner Tracie Zody realized the wind was going to force some changes.

"When we were setting up, we had wineglasses and centerpieces falling over," says Zody, who works for Bliss Wedding & Event Design in the Short North. "We had to move the dining table to the lower deck so it was more protected. We moved some heavier lounge furniture to the upper deck and had the cocktails and post-dinner hanging out up there. The couple was cool with it. They just wanted to get married on the beach."

In Central Ohio, weather is actually the No. 1 reason for wedding day distress. "Rain, wind, snow, ice…people underestimate the impact an ever-changing forecast can have on their wedding," Duncan says. "What if there's a giant snowstorm the day before the wedding? What if it's raining so hard the tent blows over? That can throw a lot of stress toward the couple. That's why they should have a really solid Plan B-possibly even a Plan C, D and E, as well. Being OK with that alternate plan is probably the best thing they can do."

Just last year, Zody had to help a couple make the very difficult, last-minute call to move their reception inside at the Franklin Park Conservatory. "The night before the wedding, the forecast showed a 75 percent chance of rain, so I told them at the rehearsal that we weren't going to be able to do the reception outside," Zody says. "The bride cried. But her parents were there and her future in-laws were there, so I let them talk it over."

They acquiesced and thank goodness they did.

"That day was a monsoon in Columbus," Zody says. "The storm came through twice-once right before the ceremony and again during the reception. It was raining sideways. But there was a sense of relief because we made the right decision. We had a Plan B, and everything went smoothly."

Another common cause for wedding day debacles involves attire. "I had a groom who stepped on the train of his bride when they were being introduced at their reception and ripped the entire back of the skirt off," Duncan recalls. "They got through the intro and toasts, then we stepped out and I pinned the heck out of her dress."

At another wedding, the maid of honor's zipper split leaving the entire back of her dress wide open.

"We fed her red wine through a straw and sewed her into it," Duncan said. "I have no idea how she got out of her dress at the end of the night."

Then there was the dress that never made it to Columbus.

"The husband of a bridesmaid was supposed to bring it from North Carolina, but there was a huge storm and his flight didn't take off," Duncan recalls. "We found a dress in the right color in a similar style locally and she somehow fit into it, which was amazing because it wasn't her size. All we had to do was hem it. Our seamstress chopped about an inch off it an hour before the pictures."

Sometimes, however, there isn't much that can be done to fix an 11th-hour crisis. Take, for instance, the groom with a wedding day stomach bug.

"One of the groomsmen's wife was a doctor and she called in a prescription for an anti-nausea medicine," Duncan says. "He got through the wedding somehow, but got sick promptly after. Then he took more pills and made it through the reception."

At times like those, refocusing the couple is paramount. "Hopefully someone can remind them why we are there," Duncan says. "It's not about the missing bridesmaid's bouquet. It's not about the gown that didn't arrive on time. It's so they can get married and profess their love for each other. At the end of the day, if the couple got married, then the day was perfect. That's enough. Everything else is icing on the proverbial cake."?

At the end of the day, if the couple got married, then the day was perfect. That's enough. Everything else is icing on the proverbial cake.