Avoid the Top 15 Wedding Mistakes and Disasters:
Wedding bloopers are fun to watch on YouTube, but the unfortunate mishaps connected to live ceremonies and receptions can be quite embarrassing for brides, grooms and event organizers. In extreme cases of inclement weather, lack of foresight can ruin the entire evening for guests and turn the night of your life into a bad memory.
The good news is that most wedding disasters are easy to avoid with proper planning and attention to detail. By identifying common areas where wedding organizers fall short, you'll be well on your way to enjoying a hassle free day with family and friends.
Wow your guests with cheap decorative accents that look like they cost a small fortune.
1. Traffic Jams and Road Blocks
Imagine arriving at your wedding reception to find that only half the guests have made it because the MAIN ROAD leading to your facility is blocked by bulldozers. I've seen this happen more than a few times in the last ten years. Guests and vendors coming from distant locations end up driving around lost or confused. Alternative routes provided by navigation systems can be confusing or downright incorrect, so be sure to include a clear alternative route when sending out directions with wedding invitations. Use Facebook to create a special event page and publish more than one route to your chosen venue. A few days before the reception, check to see if local freeways or neighborhood roads are blocked by construction. If your reception is scheduled on a Friday, remember that thousands of motorists will be driving home from work between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Guests driving from the church to the reception hall may get caught up in the mayhem. For this reason, 7 p.m. is the optimal start time for Friday receptions.
2. Smart Phone Interruptions
Whether I'm stationed at the back of a church or the front of a reception hall, I tend to have an expansive view of the audience. In the last five years, I've seen a drastic increase in Smart Phone activity that diverts attention from the bride and groom. Quiet texting can diminish the emotional impact of a good ceremony. Random camera flashes can work their way into professional photos and videos. Loud or inappropriate ring tones can upstage the minister at inopportune moments. Ask your officiant to gently remind guests to turn off their devices before the ceremony. Even before the wedding begins, constant and random phone calls can diminish the bride's focus as she prepares for the most important event of her life. Consider recording a special voice mail message on your big day. "You have reached me on the day of my wedding. I am not available to answer calls. If this is an emergency, please contact my mom or sister at the following number."
3. Low Guest Turnout
Some brides worry about the overcrowding of tents and small venues. Others worry that coworkers and acquaintances won't come at all. Trust your instincts on this matter. If you feel like large numbers of people will ignore your invitations, you may be right. In my experience, low turnout is vastly more common than overcrowding. At larger venues, you may be stuck paying hundreds of dollars for plates that were never served! To tip the odds in your favor, try to attend most of your friend's events that occur within the same year as your wedding. You never know who might feel resentful that you skipped a random Tupperware party or backyard barbecue. Ask yourself some difficult questions. Are you bad about calling old friends and coworkers? Do you have a habit of ignoring invitations to birthday parties and sales events? If your schedule is tight and you simply don't have time for more personal interactions, make a point to like more pictures and stories on Facebook. A little social finesse goes a long way. A lot of folks pop online to release their own pictures and stories, but they don't necessarily run through the news feed and read other people's comments for the day. If that describes you, it may be time to rediscover the like button. The more love you put out into the universe, the more you'll get in return.
Before booking a venue, consider the natural flow of people in your life. If you come from a small family, you may not have endless aunts, uncles and cousins to invite. If you don't belong to any social or professional organizations, you might not be connected to a large network of people. Church members and school district employees naturally have more acquaintances. If you belong to a highly supportive network, you can probably rent a large venue with great confidence. If your social network is small or loosely connected, consider renting a small but charming event barn. Some of the most intimate and memorable events occur in humble surroundings.
Let me take you on a tour of Metro Detroit Area barns that can be rented for weddings and private parties.
Let me take you on a tour of Metro Detroit Area barns that can be rented for weddings and private parties.
Enhance an upscale venue or transform a humble banquet room into a sparkling wonderland!
4. Rambunctious Children
If lots of children will be at your reception, beware that younger kids have a tendency to run around the room, pull on table skirts, stare at bright lasers and make endless song requests. I've seen children climb onstage, trip over power supply cords and shut down the entire DJ system. Cocktail hour can be a particularly difficult time because there's a sense of impatience and urgency while waiting for the main event. Parents may beg the DJ to play youthful pop hits to keep energetic kids occupied on the dance floor. For this reason, you should establish a firm protocol regarding heavily requested songs. Kids adore line dances like the Cupid Shuffle, but if too many line dances are played before the reception begins, it will result in many repeats. Kids also have a tendency to request the most current pop hits. It's not the best idea to play current dance hits before the reception begins because the VERY SAME HITS may be heavily requested by adults after dinner. To avoid repeated activity, ask your DJ to save the very best current dance hits for the reception. Designate a young cousin or friend to watch over children and guide them away from buffet tables and laser lights. Toddlers are naturally attracted to uplighting units that sit on the floor. They want to handle them up close and stare down into the core. After dinner, I will generally make an announcement to warn parents that it's not good for small children to stare directly into lasers.
5. Extra Long Dinner Delays
Most dinner delays result when the bride and groom spend too much time taking photographs after the ceremony. For this reason, it's common for brides to schedule a cocktail hour between the ceremony and the reception. When photo sessions run over schedule, venue managers become VERY nervous about the food sitting around the kitchen. They want to serve elaborate meals as soon as possible. On many occasions, frustrated venue managers have instructed me to go out to the courtyard and remind the bride and groom that guests are waiting to eat. Their anger is not expressed to brides and grooms directly, but the residual anxiety and resentment may cause employees to become distant or unfriendly throughout the night. If your photo session runs way over schedule, consider cancelling the meet-and-greet that follows the entrance of the bridal party. This will appease venue managers and ensure that venue employees keep serving guests with a smile.
6. Embarrassing Speeches
Every so often, the best man or maid of honor will use the toast to embarrass the bride or groom. Sometimes, this is done in the spirit of fun, and the resulting jokes are innocent and lighthearted. On rare occasions, the insults are malicious, and it becomes clear that there are unresolved conflicts within the group. If there's bad blood between you and the best man or maid of honor, give out giant hugs before the wedding and tell them that you're looking forward to a whole new era of love and understanding. If there's an often repeated incident from your past that's just not funny anymore, don't be afraid to ask scheduled speakers not to mention it. You know your friends best. A dark sense of humor can be endearing in many ways, but there's a time and place for it.
7. Wedding Cake Disasters
There's a reason why many venue managers urge the DJ to announce the cake cutting segment immediately after the bride and groom enter the reception hall. Elaborate cakes can begin to tilt or melt before dinner begins. At backyard receptions, this little detail can fall by the wayside. As friends and relatives scramble to decorate and tie up loose ends, their minds may not be focused on the melting cake. When temperatures are hot, I like to announce the cake cutting ritual before dinner. Between October and May, I prefer to make the announcement after dinner. Instruct your DJ accordingly.
8. Missed Cues
There are three key moments when parents, vendors and wedding party members can miss their cues.
- THE BIG ENTRANCE: Pay special attention to that moment when bridal party members are standing outside the reception room waiting to be announced. If bridesmaids and groomsmen are talking or adjusting their garments, they can miss the disc jockey's announcement of the lead couple. If this happens, guests will be left to stare at the entrance and wonder why the lead couple didn't flow through the doorway when they were called. It's my policy to meet wedding party members outside the door and instruct them to be extra quiet as I walk back to my DJ station to begin announcements. If there's a door between the entrance hallway and the reception room, the door should be propped open so that wedding party members can hear what's going on.
- THE RITUAL DANCES: I like to gather all featured dancers before announcing that notorious segment of the evening that honors wedding party members and parents. Dancers should wait by the floor so that they'll be ready to spring into action when their names are called. If Dad wanders away to grab a quick drink or mom begins talking to a friend, they can miss their cues. It won't exactly ruin the wedding if Dad must run across the room to meet his little girl on the dance floor, but it's certainly an awkward moment that can be avoided with proper instruction.
- THE CAKE CUTTING: If the venue manager urges you to cut the cake sooner than the timeline dictates, be sure to tell the DJ, photographer and videographer. All three vendors must work together to coordinate the music and filming of this time honored tradition. If you tell the photographer without informing anyone else, your DJ may start the cake song late, and your videographer may be caught running across the room to capture the moment.
9. Obnoxious Song Requesters
Guests sometimes fight against the bride's musical preferences. If you dislike country music, old Uncle Joe will insist on hearing "Friends in Low Places" the moment he walks into the room. If you hate standard line dances, you can be sure that your friends will beg me to play the Cupid Shuffle and the Cha Cha Slide, even after I tell them you don't want to hear songs like that. Children are apt to make multiple song requests because they don't understand that there's a planned music format. Teenagers are famous for approaching the DJ with hard core rap requests that are offensive to older people. I'm not the kind of DJ who would play such requests without asking the bride, but it's always a good idea to work out general guidelines before your big day. For example, my music planning form includes an option for brides to cross out the standard line dances that they don't want to hear. There's also a section to indicate the type of dance music you want and the style of rock 'n' roll that you like. Cross out all categories you don't want to hear, and I'll say no to guests who beg me to play songs from categories you don't like.
10. Rainy Day Disasters
- PROTECTION OF GUESTS: It's important to rent a tent that has side flaps to prevent rain from blowing onto guests. Overhead protection is only part of the story when it comes to creating a secure and comfortable environment for friends and relatives. I've seen horrifying flash floods that turn tent floors into shallow ponds. If there's rain in the forecast, you may wish to create a cheap floor with large tarps. The cost is minimal, and your guests should remain comfortable if there's a light to medium storm. For best results, the edges of your tarp should extend to the edge of your tent. Fold the edge of the tarp upward to form a barrier, and use a few bricks to hold that barrier in place.
- PROTECTION OF YOUR DJ: A sudden downpour can electrocute the host or ruin computers, speakers, amplifiers and lighting units. (Yes, I've been zapped more than once!) Designate an emergency assistant to help the DJ cover equipment with tarps. This task can be accomplished much faster with two people working to cover speakers and light poles in different locations.
- PROTECTION OF YOUR HOME: If your wedding is to be held in the backyard outside your home, you may want to throw a large floor mat over your living room carpet just in case guests have to rush indoors. I've seen some heartbreaking cases where beautiful carpeting was ruined by multiple party guests with muddy shoes. Even if there's no rain in the forecast, it's a good idea to cover the path to your bathroom with plastic floor runners. This path will be well traveled throughout the night! Even if you provide portable restrooms outside, senior citizens or handicapped guests may not be able to use them. Guests waiting in line to use the facilities will inevitably ask if they can use your personal bathroom.
11. Weak Air Conditioning
More so than any other disaster on the list, hot and stuffy indoor conditions can leave guests feeling miserable and cranky. A leaky tent scenario is almost fun compared to an oppressively hot room packed with irritable guests. To avoid this travesty, study the architecture of your venue. Extra large windows and skylights can make rooms hellishly hot by magnifying the sun's rays. Rooms enclosed by glass won't begin to cool until the sun goes down. Historic venues may have old or substandard air conditioning units, and some event barns may not have air conditioning at all. To complicate matters, kitchens are often connected to reception rooms, raising overall temperatures to new heights. If you've never attended a summer event at your chosen venue, ask if the air conditioning system is strong enough to chill a room packed with 100 or more guests. If there's no air conditioning at all, ask if industrial cooling fans are available. Such fans can be purchased at Home Depot for about $100. It takes two of them to battle intense heat on humid summer evenings. One fan should be pointed at the door so that it draws heat away from the room. The other fan should be positioned at the opposite end of the room and pointed at guests.
12. Relentless Mosquitoes
Increased mosquito activity near ponds and swimming pools can force guests to leave your party early. If you don't like the idea of spraying your backyard with noxious chemicals that probably won't work, spread cedar granules around the yard or reception site. Mosquitoes clinging to damp blades of grass will flee the area, and the fresh cedar scent will work to repel flying insects for many weeks to come. If your outdoor location is surrounded by shrubs, spray them with a nice cedar oil concentrate the night before the wedding. For more information about organic yard pesticides, visit WholesalePesticides.com.
13. Bad Drunken Behavior
Drunken madness usually translates to big fun, but occasionally, overbearing personalities may embarrass the bride and groom. If there's a history of excessive conflict between two friends or relatives, be sure they aren't seated near one another. If a certain friend or relative is causing you to feel uncomfortable, let me know. I can politely ignore that person's song requests. Drunken fights aren't common at weddings, but I've seen a few in my time. If you see a negative situation developing, tell me immediately. A hard, driving dance song can immediately be faded into a soft, soothing ballad. On the nightclub scene, disc jockeys are often instructed to switch the music when guests become rowdy. It tends to have a calming effect on mass audiences. To quote William Congreve, "Music soothes the savage beast."
14. Poor Handicap Accessibility
If your guest list features large numbers of senior citizens, be sure to choose an appropriate venue. Historic buildings often have narrow halls and doorways. Bathrooms may be located far away from reception rooms, and grand staircases may make it difficult for people in wheelchairs to access the main ballroom. Consider all of these details when choosing the perfect venue to accommodate your friends and relatives.
15. Bad Relationships with Venue Managers
Long after the guests are gone, there's an extended cleanup period where I pack my equipment while employees vacuum floors and break down tables. This is when I get to hear all the gossip about brides, grooms and their guests. Venue employees don't realize that I can become fairly close to some clients during the planning process. They somehow think that I won't mind hearing them complain about brides, grooms and their relatives. My goal in revealing this information is to warn you that relationships between wedding organizers and venue managers aren't always perfect. On certain occasions, I've encountered managers who were short with guests just because they had difficulties with family members who arranged the event.