As anyone who’s ever planned a wedding knows, there’s a lot more to the perfect union than a few flowers and a beautiful venue. Sometimes, no matter how many hours of effort have gone into crafting the day of a bride’s dreams, things just fall apart—and spectacularly so. Here, some of the Baltimore area’s best wedding planners share their worst wedding-day disasters … and tell how (in most cases) they were able to achieve wedded bliss after their near miss.
More Power to Them
“We were doing a very high-profile wedding when Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) came in and said they had some sort of emergency on the power grid and they needed to shut down power to the entire block for an unknown period of time, but a minimum of one to two hours. This was right before dinner service, basically right in the middle of cocktail hour.
“The challenge was: How were we going to have this wedding without any lights, without any music and without any food?
“We bought some time with the BGE guys, and convinced them to hold off for a little bit, until after the dinner service. During that time we were able to get a very small residential generator from one of the guests. He had to go all the way home to get it. With that we were able to power just a portion of the band. We had tons and tons of candles. They were already part of the décor but we added more, and we had LED up-lights, which don’t require an outlet. The band was great; they were able to play and they hooked up an iPod as well. The late-night food, toward the end of the wedding, was all cooked on a battery-powered stove, no oven.
“Everyone did their best to make it all work. And we made a beautiful party without any power. The reason it was so successful was because the couple rolled with it—they were just so happy to be married. While it might have been a disaster for so many couples, they just can’t stop talking about how lovely it was and how intimate it felt because of the candles. They didn’t hold on to what it should have been. They just accepted their fate and made the best of it.” —Lindsey Stone, Union 3 Events
“We had one wedding where the bride had signed a contract for her venue that said construction could be done at any point because it was a historical building. So we all show up for the rehearsal dinner the night before—and the face of the building is torn apart and completely covered in scaffolding!
“The bride started freaking out, and wouldn’t even go inside for the rehearsal. She pretty much had a breakdown. But as a wedding planner, you do what you need to do.
“So I called one of our vendors who is great with decoration and art. The vendor came down that night and piped and draped the whole face of the building. They even added an LED light installment to make it look artsy. The front of the building ended up looking like a museum, so it worked out and the bride ended up being happy. The guests couldn’t even tell the lights and drapes weren’t supposed to be there.” — Rebekah Thorsett, Moore & Co. Event Stylists
Cut That Out
“I really encourage my clients to ask their guests not to use their cell phones to take pictures during the ceremony. Unfortunately, this bride did not do that. She was coming down the aisle in her home church and it was a beautiful church. We had designed it so that there were candles all down the aisle.
“Everything was fine until this one lady stepped out of the pew to get a picture of the bride’s train. She knocked over one of the candles—in a glass cylinder floating on water. Somehow it collapsed into another one, breaking them both. As she stepped back, she cut a horrible gash in her leg.
“This woman cut herself so badly that she bled down her leg, into the water and through the carpet in the aisle. Thank goodness it didn’t get on the bride’s dress. But there was blood and water everywhere. I rushed down the aisle after the bride to tell her to continue on up to the officiant. Then I rushed this lady out while my team quietly came in with paper towels and cleaned up as much of the water and blood as they could.
“I took the lady out to the restroom and got my emergency kit and gauzed her up. She actually wanted to go to the reception. I told her absolutely not. This gash had to be 4 inches long and [very] deep. I told her she had to go to the emergency room. It was good that the lady didn’t come to the reception because the bride was so upset with her. And this all happened because she was trying to take a picture.” —Tami Brown, Blush Weddings
“We had a change of venue the day before the wedding. It was a September wedding a few years ago, the year Hurricane Sandy came through. The venue, which was up in Pennsylvania, was fine for the whole week leading up to the wedding. But the morning before the wedding, we got a call that the road by the venue flooded and they didn’t know if they had electricity.
“We didn’t have time to wait to see how things developed. We called every venue we could possibly think of. Almost all of them were booked because of the hurricane. After a couple of hours of calling, and with the help of one of the groomsmen, we found a cute dinner theater that was available.
“We quickly got together with the bridal party to check it out. That was early afternoon. We wanted to finalize a menu with them because the only food options were what they had at the restaurant. We had the rehearsal right there and then, and divided the guest list amongst my team. We called all their vendors and all their guests, and moved the whole wedding in 8 to 10 hours.” —Briana Dixon, Nouvelle
“I was doing an outdoor barn wedding. The ceremony was taking place inside the barn, and the reception was being set up outside in a tent in a field next to the barn. They had burlap covers on the table, and burlap bows around the Mason jars. We were at the last stage of lighting the candles. It was just windy enough that it was pulling the flame up over the edge of the Mason jars, so the burlap bows caught on fire, which then caught the burlap covers of the tables on fire, too. Three tables were on fire during the ceremony! We scrambled to put them out, and were able to put all the tables back together again. Fortunately, we had enough supplies to make it work. The bride and groom had no idea that it happened. We let them know at the end of the reception. —Stephanie Day, Stephanie Day Events
Parting of the Ways
“My most memorable disaster happened 12 years ago. The couple had the ceremony and the reception, which was on a charter boat, and then got in some kind of an argument. By the time they got back to shore, the bride took the carriage—meant for both of them—back to the hotel, and the groom went home with his friends. Everybody was so inebriated that they didn’t notice, but the staff did. A few months after the wedding, I heard the couple was no longer married. —Karma O’Neill, KO Events
A Stitch in Time…
“Last May, we handled a wedding for a fun-loving couple from New York City. They hosted a black tie event at the groom’s parents’ private golf club and manor house just outside of Annapolis.
“About 30 minutes before the ‘first look’ was to take place between the bride and groom, as the groomsmen were getting ready, we heard a loud cry of horror from the groom: ‘Mom!’ He came walking out of the bedroom looking very similar to Tom Cruise in Risky Business, wearing only his tuxedo shirt, white socks and white underpants.
“Even after we had playfully (but seriously!) advised all the guys to try their tuxes on a week before the wedding, the groom told us that his pants did not have the buttons to clip on his suspenders and therefore his pants would not stay up. He was clearly worried we would not know how to fix this blunder that could result in his pants falling down while walking toward his bride. ‘Does anyone know how to sew?’ he asked. His mother and I laughed: Of course we knew how to sew.
“Immediately, we sprang into action. Just then, a groomsman walked out of the bathroom yelling, ‘Help, I need help! My button!’ Luckily, his button had not fallen off—it just needed a little super glue to fix its appearance. We reached into the trusty planner fanny pack/survival kit, whipped out some super glue and began the operation. Meanwhile, the best man’s suspender clasp broke. He got in line after Mr. Button Man to get it stitched up.
“Back at the reception tent, our planner and the property’s groundskeeper noticed dark clouds fast approaching. They quickly brought up the weather radar and realized that within seconds, a nasty storm was about to tear through. Since the tent team had left for its mandated lunch break, we rounded up the catering team. The property groundskeeper gave everyone plastic zip ties and instructed 20-plus helpers how to strap down a sidewall.
“After a few minutes, the dark clouds cleared, and the sun was beaming. The groomsman and best man were all fixed up and ready to party, and the groom was ready for his first look with his soon-to-be wife.” —Angela Valenti, Intrinsic Weddings