Every bride and groom dreams of the perfect wedding, but emergencies can -- and do -- happen.
According to RoseLynn Micari-Fiumara of Bridal Reflections salons, common wedding emergencies include broken zippers and tears, stains or marks on a dress. "Zippers are sometimes faulty, or a bride or bridesmaid has gained weight. Sometimes you have to sew someone into her gown," she says.
More than one bride has caught her shoe on the hem of her dress and ripped it or stepped out of the limousine into a puddle. Micari-Fiumara notes that some fabrics, such as taffeta, can be easily marked by the moisture from the bouquets the bride and her attendants carry.
Megan Kocher, who owns a wedding and event planning company, says she cannot think of a wedding that hasn't had some kind of emergency. When a groom's mother dropped fruit filling from the wedding cake on her dress, a stain stick was used for a quick fix.
Broken jewelry is often an issue. Kocher advises that buying a $4 jewelry repair kit will come in handy at any wedding to fix broken necklace clasps and earrings that need backs.
Children who are members of the wedding party can bring on an emergency because of their excitement. "Flower girls are always bouncing around in their frilly dresses," Kocher says. "One girl did it so much that she knocked the rosebuds loose in her headpiece just before walking down the aisle. There wasn't time for glue, so we rolled up balls of heavy-duty masking tape and stuck them on the underside of the flowers to reattach them to the headband."
Freelance writer and editor Ruth E. Thaler-Carter had to cope with not one, but two emergencies at her wedding 21 years ago. Thaler and her fiance drove from Baltimore to upstate New York for their wedding, only to discover that he had left his dress shoes at home. He only had sneakers with him, and none of the men in the bride's family or in the wedding party wore the same size. So he purchased dress shoes at 10 a.m. for his 11 a.m. nuptials.
Thaler, who had served as a photographer for family events, realized she had forgotten to book one for her wedding. She gave her brother her camera and asked him and anyone else there with a camera to take photos. "It meant no formal poses, but we aren't formal people anyhow," she says. "The variety of shots, poses and angles we have as a result is very nice and totally original."
Wedding planners and former brides agree that the best way to handle emergencies is to be prepared. "All in all, the best thing to do is be prepared with someone who knows how to handle whatever situation may arise," Kocher advises.
Micari-Fiumara recommends that the bride or her attendants put together an emergency kit for the wedding day that includes safety pins, a needle and thread in colors matching the bridal and attendants' gowns, a stain remover kit, a hair dryer, gum, mints and double-sided fashion tape. "Safety pins always come in handy, and fashion tape can be used to fix a hem on a dress or tux; it holds the whole day," she says.
White chalk and baby powder also can come in handy. "White chalk can cover stains on a bridal gown by blending in with the stain. Baby powder will absorb oil and leave no residue," says Micari-Fiumara, adding that it is especially useful for photographers to mask things.
Adel Domingo, senior event architect with Oliveair? Artisan Events and Meetings, offers some wedding-day emergency solutions based on her experience as a planner, including:
--If the bride feels faint or hungry, give her some orange juice.
--If there is an emergency, take a deep breath before thinking of a solution.
--If a guest shows up and claims he sent his RSVP, assume that he did. Do not argue with him, especially if the bride and groom know him. Make him feel welcome, and apologize for the inconvenience. Let the banquet captain know of the extra count.
--If the rings are lost or forgotten, borrow somebody else's if there is no time to get them.
--If the flowers do not show up, go to plan B. Go to another flower shop or a grocery that has a floral department. Once you're surrounded by flowers, it's easy to be creative.
Some wedding emergencies can't be anticipated. Micari-Fiumara vividly remembers an incident in which a bride's veil went up in flames. "The bride had just spent an hour having her hair and makeup done. She stepped outside to smoke and caught the veil on fire," she says. "The veil was ruined, and we had to rush back to the shop to get one from the stock for her to wear."
The important thing is to save the day, which can be a real challenge. For Micari-Fiumara, the story of a car interior's ruining a $5,000 bridal gown is a memorable example. This wedding included a chauffeured Rolls-Royce to take the bride to the church. It was a hot day, and either the car had no air conditioning or it was not running. Unbeknownst to the bride, the driver had waxed the burgundy leather back seat, which resulted in large red smears down the back of her gown.
The seamstress applied a cleaning solution that gave the back of the dress the appearance of having a reddish tint. Though the wedding day was saved, the bride successfully sued the limousine company for ruining her gown.
"I think the best advice to give people is to breathe deeply and focus on what's most important," Thaler-Carter says. "Don't sweat the small details. Things that feel like catastrophes often are no big deal; it's the event that blows them out of proportion."
"And most importantly," says wedding planner Nerissa Montemurro, "be ready to go with the flow and not let it ruin your day."