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December 2008

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Defend Against Disasters
Written By: 
Jen Banowetz

Learn from local experts who have successfully wrangled the unexpected


FIASCO: An intoxicated wedding guest turns the reception rowdy, creating mayhem instead of merriment. Emmy recalls a recent reception where a tipsy groomsman thought it would be great fun to push fellow guests into the site’s swimming pool. It wasn’t. Before the evening morphed into a bad sitcom, Emmy quickly enlisted the help of other groomsmen to calm the plastered pusher and send him packing—safely home in a cab. “Most people are respectful of the wedding process,” she says, but even so, it pays to have a third-party supervising the whole scene, a clear thinker who can take charge fast. “Someone has to do it or weddings would be chaos,” she adds. Also be sure to have contingency plans for inebriated or ill guests, in addition to encouraging designated drivers. “I think it’s a great piece of advice to always have an account with a cab company,” she says. Hail those words of wisdom. FIASCO: Thousands of uninvited, nasty guests crash your fall outdoor wedding. Be prepared to fend off pesky little critters like gnats, fire ants, and mosquitoes, as one bride and groom new to town learned the hard way—despite repeated warnings. The couple didn’t think spraying for insects was necessary because their wedding was in late October and surely the bugs would be gone. No such luck. “After the rehearsal they understood what I had been talking about, because they were covered in bites,” remembers planner Rory Welsh of Jubilation. That night she called one of her vendors to spray the wedding location immediately and again a few hours before the event. “It just ruins the ambience of a beautiful outside wedding when the wedding party is swatting bugs throughout the ceremony,” Rory says. But, “their ceremony was perfect...and bug-free.” FIASCO: Without warning, your fabulous reception site has changed ownership, or worse, gone out of business, sending you scrambling for a backup.“I received a call from a frantic bride,” recalls Rory Welsh, “and the place that she had booked for her wedding reception had been sold. The new owners told her that they would honor her contract, but the location was going under huge renovations to change it from a swanky wine bar to a tourist-slash-family restaurant.” Bad news for the bride, since it essentially sent her back to square one no matter her forethought and sizable deposit. “The first thing I did was to make sure if we changed locations that she would be fully refunded,” Rory says. “After that was agreed upon, I got to work on finding a new location.” With a beautiful alternative in place, it merely became a matter of logistics to coordinate the ceremony site, order transportation for the guests, and inform the vendors of the revamped plan. Lesson learned: escape clauses are as essential as the pro that helps you out in a pinch. FIASCO: Your brilliant plan to depart among sparkler-waving guests is unexpectedly extinguished by a recent drought and your reception site’s new policy. Last year’s drought meant the charming live oaks and Spanish moss could become dangerous tinderboxes, so many places prudently banned the use of sparklers and other open flames. “But they don’t send out a memo every time they change their policies,” Emmy Loyd points out. And that means new rules and regulations can turn the tables on certain details you settled months in advance. At one reception, the bride and groom found out their sparkler plans fizzled just before departure. Luckily as a last-minute backup, Emmy acquired—and dismantled—centerpieces from a nearby, just-ended wedding so tossed petals could sub for the risky fireworks. “Check on everything,” she urges, “and always have a Plan B.” FIASCO: Although you expertly scheduled your Big Day, a serious delay endangers your whole timetable—and that of your vendors. As quaint as the Lowcountry’s skinny streets may be, one holdup can cause everything to screech to a halt, delaying the cake’s arrival or leaving a bride bouquet-less for the ceremony. Denise Leonard of Greenskeeper Florist has seen her share of unanticipated obstacles, including an accident that hampered the delivery of 20 centerpieces. (They made it thanks to several on-foot laps around the block.) In other cases, one frazzled bride neglected to mention the ceremony time was pushed up two hours, while another moved prior to the wedding without updating vendors of her new contact information. The takeaway? Be sure you keep vendors in the loop and allow generous cushions of time.




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Illustration by Ken Del Rossi

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