Reception Rescues

Reception Rescues | Fix wedding-day fiascos with some expert advice from local event coordinators.

FIASCO: An hour before the reception, the band has arrived but the sound equipment hasn’t.

Fix: “I once had a bride who insisted on hiring the band herself. What she didn’t realize was that she needed to hire a sound technician as well,” says Ellen A. Cohn of WED (Weddings Elegantly Designed). Thankfully, after a few calls to her contacts, Ellen was able to find a local professional to fill in. Tip: When booking entertainment, be sure to ask the right questions, like whether the band does their own sound or if they sub-contract it, advises Ellen. It’s always a good idea to book a band through a booking agent to give you extra protection. “Keep a list of all vendors and sub-vendors and know what your contracts cover.”

FIASCO: The bridal party arrives 30 minutes late for the ceremony.

FIX: Many factors—such as hair crises, weather, or even traffic—could cause delays on the day of the event, says Katie Bell of Timeless Designs. “Remain calm and always have a plan for guests who may be waiting. For one beachside wedding, my staff and I escorted guests to a shaded area; offered them bottled water, sunscreen, and insect repellent; and explained that the wedding would be delayed by a few minutes. Once the bride arrived, the guests were asked to take their seats on the beach and the wedding processional began.” Tip: Keep guests comfortable and occupied. Have background music playing and the guestbook available and ready to sign prior to the ceremony.

FIASCO: On a beautiful day, an unexpected rainstorm threatens to shower upon the bridal party and guests arriving at the church.

Fix: “Having a ‘plan B’ for an outdoor event is a must, but be sure to be weather-ready for both the arrival to and departure from indoor ceremonies and receptions,” says event designer Mitchell Crosby of JMC Charleston. “I always keep four large, plain golf umbrellas in my trunk in case of a heavy rainstorm.” Tip: Always be prepared for a change in weather. “One cannot count on not having gnats in December, and freezes can still happen in late March, so outdoor weddings may require heaters,” says Mitchell. “If your event is during the heat of the summer when rainstorms can develop out of nowhere, closely monitor the weather forecast.”

FIASCO: On a hot, humid day, the bride feels faint before the ceremony.

Fix: “Many times brides and bridesmaids don’t eat due to the hectic pre-ceremony preparations,” says Kate Badger of Special Events, LLC. She advises working out a reasonable “day of” schedule so that the bride and her attendants know who’s getting ready where and have ample time to do it. “I always bring lots of bottled water, light sandwiches, and fruit. This gives everyone the energy to make it through a fast-paced day without having to stop and think about getting food on their own.”

FIASCO: The groom’s tulip boutonnière was crushed after the ceremony by hugs from well-wishers. Fix: Delicate flowers like orchids and tulips can be easily broken when designed as boutonnières. Katie Bell of Timeless Designs recommends ordering a “backup” boutonnière for the groom in case of overzealous congratulations.

FIASCO: At a wedding in a remote area, the couple’s champagne glasses are left behind. Because champagne was only reserved for the couple and those toasting, there are no flutes at the bar.

Fix: “I always bring a set of champagne flutes in my ‘bag o’ tricks’ to every wedding,” says Kate Badger of Special Events, LLC. “In case there are missing glasses, we can quickly produce some.” Tip: Rent a rack of champagne glasses and stash them at the bar to accommodate everyone who would like to make last minute toasts!


  • Place a basket or a container (preferably one that fits with the overall décor of the event) in the restrooms of your venue. Stock them with travel-size toiletries and items like double-sided tape, which is perfect to secure the strapless dress that won’t stay put or the groomsman’s pant hem that is too long. Nail files, safety pins, lotion, and mints are also nice amenities to have on-hand for guests!
  • Have a trusted person—your wedding coordinator, mom, or maid of honor—keep the vendor list with contact names and phone numbers in their purse or pocket throughout the day. Be sure to include important transportation numbers like taxi services, carriage companies, or rickshaws for any last minute time changes or unexpected pick-up needs.
  • Discuss all the little details regarding the cake prior to the wedding day. Know who is providing the cake knife and server, and who will be cutting and serving the cake to the guests. Most caterers are happy to help with this, but some charge extra—you don’t want to receive a surprise bill after the wedding.