Let's be honest: things go wrong at weddings and events.
When you are a guest at an event or flipping through photos, it's so easy to get the impression that events are this easy breezy, effortless, and beautiful. As industry pros, it's our job to make it appear that they are. But the reality is: sh*t hits the fan.
I always like to approach every event with the mindset of "when" things don't go as planned, rather than "if". Because experience tells me that they will. Whether it's unexpected traffic or detours, a guest of honor who comes down with an illness, a last minute cancellation, a delivery that never shows... the list goes on and on. The good news is, when you have a planner involved in your event it greatly minimizes the chances of things not going as planned. But still, we can't control everything. When things don't go as planned, who is going to step in and make it right? Certainly you don't want to have to be put in that position. That's where event planners and coordinators step in.
So let's get into it! Here are just a handful of examples of times where things didn't go as planned and how they were fixed:
CANCELLATIONS. A family emergency arises the week of the wedding and the hair and makeup artist is no longer to fulfill her duties. A cancellation of any kind the week of an event is enough to send your sanity into a downward spiral. The bride reaches out to me asking whether she should reach out to local salons to see if they can fit her in. Through my network, I'm able to find replacement hair and makeup artists within a half an hour. Luckily full-on cancellations are rare, but they can totally happen at any time. Finding a last minute replacement can be a challenge and valid reason to panic, but not impossible. In that moment, you want someone with a strong network to find another great professional to step in and assist.
DELIVERIES GONE WRONG. For a large corporate event in downtown Boston, we had custom hand-made decor pieces that were supposed to be delivered directly to the venue due to the last minute nature of the order. After about 15-20 minutes past the delivery window, I called the company only to find out that they were accidentally delivered to another property. Luckily the truck was still nearby and they were able to go back, retrieve the items and bring them to us. But in the event that they were already long gone, I was half a second away from running out the door to go find them myself. Had no one been watching out for deliveries, who knows if they client would have ever gotten that order in time. I have also had plenty of incorrect rental orders show. If you can take inventory and catch these things on-arrival, they can usually get fixed within the hour. And my clients never even find out that what they ordered wasn't originally on the truck the first time around.
TRANSPORTATION MISHAPS. Enough said. There are SO many variables with transportation, so if you have any transport elements related to your event at all, make sure you have someone dedicated to managing the transfers. While managing transportation for a wedding in January, we found out as guests were boarding the buses to the reception that the venue was not ready for guest arrival at the time that we were expected to arrive. To kill time, we arranged with the drivers to take the "scenic" route so that they'd spend no more than five minutes staged outside of the reception venue before being allowed in. It was January people, so it was freaking cold out there!
UNEXPECTED WEATHER. Sometimes weather can take a turn for the worst. We do live in New England after all - is anyone ever really surprised? We've dealt with our fair share of weather scares. The rain was so unrelenting one summer that the ground was completely saturated in water. Luckily we were on an amazing farm with bales of hay available. The venue jumped in quickly to try and absorb as much of the moisture as possible and laid down layers and layers of hay until the ground was covered. We called it farm chic :)
GOING ROGUE. This is the most common "Oh sh*t" moment that we deal with. It happens ALL THE TIME. Family members, band leaders, emcees, catering managers, photographers, performers, bus drivers. People have ideas and minds of their own. Even with a great plan in place, every now and again someone decides to go rogue. From pushy family members to demanding vendors - we protect your experience and your wishes first and foremost. I once had to stop a friend of the bride from sneaking in and attempting to cut and serve their entire wedding cake HERSELF (despite the cake only being for show and another dessert at the ready to be served to guests). I've had photographers attempt to hijack the timeline in an effort to get photos that they felt were important. I've had bands show up with incorrect song lists for the ceremony. Auctioneers and emcee's going off-script. Event planners are essentially stage managers on your event day. Directing and cue calling so that when someone goes rogue, we jump in to redirect.
IN SUMMARY. The main reason why things rarely go terribly wrong when we're managing an event from start to finish is because we confirm and communicate. We allow for extra time. We order extra. We show up prepared. We never assume that everyone knows where to be and what to do. Yes, it'll probably be annoying and exhausting to go over the same info. several times. BUT, people make honest mistakes all the time. Especially for professionals who are working nearly 100+ events a year... you can see how misunderstandings and mistakes happen easily.
When it seems like things might take a turn for the worst, know where your resources lie and who to call. We can't solve all these problems ourselves, so we rely heavily on our fellow vendors to problem solve in the moment together. But, having someone at the helm to direct when things go rogue so that you don't have to be that person is essential. No one wants to be stage managing their own event. Hire a professional so that you won't even know that the sh*t ever hit the fan at your event.
BONUS ADVICE. At the end of the day: try to put things into perspective. Everything may not go 100% as planned, but if you stay open minded and look at the big picture, is a small shift in the plan really going to make that big a difference in how you remember your day?
If you go into it knowing the timeline will not be exact and to-the-minute, that there may be some slight adjustments here or there based on what the reality of the day brings us, you will be SO happy with the end result no matter what. I always like to tell my clients to PREPARE and then FORGET. We plan, plan, plan all the way up until the week of the wedding, but then once you arrive - forget all of it. Put the timeline and checklists down and just enjoy. You will never get this day back again. Do you really want to spend it wondering whether or not it's 7:35 PM and what time the band will start back up?
You should be completely lost in conversation, enjoying your meal, sipping on a cocktail, kissing and hugging your loved ones. Hire a trusted professional to manage the timeline for you so that you are never looking at your phone, never wondering where you need to be next, or if anything is missing.