1. It rains on your wedding day.
If you’re planning an outdoor wedding you need to have a contingency plan in case of inclement weather. You also need to be truly okay with the contingency plan, because it doesn’t only rain on wedding days in Alanis Morissette songs.
2. Your officiant turns out to be nuts.
Ideally you not only want to meet the officiant ahead of time, but also see them perform a ceremony (or know someone who has). You don’t want to discover mid-ceremony that their style leans toward the “fire and brimstone” or overly dramatic, if that’s not what you want.
3. Your DJ and/or photographer are pains in the ass.
Good DJs and photographers blend into the background, but some are divas who act like your wedding is getting in the way of their art. Reading reviews from former clients will help you make the right hire.
4. Someone interrupts the vows.
If this nightmare happens — and it’s more likely to be a family member making a snide remark than a jilted lover — it’s best to stay calm, play it off, and keep things moving.
5. It’s freezing.
A venue may have great weather on the day you tour, but be surprisingly cold on the big day. Ordering heat lamps can be a lifesaver, as can having an area indoors that guests can go to warm up.
6. It’s swelteringly hot.
You’ll want to be prepared for this possibility, too. Make sure your venue is ventilated, and if your reception is outdoors consider renting fans.
7. You fight with your fiancé.
You’ll have plenty of time to fight after you’re married, but on the big day it’s best to let things slide and focus on your love for each other.
8. Your guests get ridiculously drunk.
To keep this from happening you might want to serve only beer and wine, or have a cocktail hour after which hard alcohol is cut off. Making water easily accessible and serving a “late night” snack are helpful, too.
9. You get ridiculously drunk.
Getting sloppy drunk and barely remembering your reception isn’t cute.
10. You wake up sick.
Brides and grooms are so busy (and often stressed) that it’s easy to get sick. Be sure to take care of yourself by getting a lot of sleep and eating well in the days leading up to the wedding.
11. Estranged family members get into it.
Seating feuding family members apart from one another can help keep the peace, as can asking them ahead of time to put their differences aside for your benefit.
12. The stupid cake ruins everything.
You’d be surprised how many cake fails there are at weddings. That’s why it’s important to make sure your cake is on a secure table in a low traffic area, and don’t forget that butter cream frosting melts in the sun!
13. Inviting your ex turns out to be a huge mistake.
You may be on great terms with your ex (or think that you are), but few guests have the potential to create as much drama as an ex. Their presence may also make your future spouse uncomfortable, which you certainly don’t want.
14. More guests show up than were invited (or you had an inaccurate head count).
You definitely want to ask your venue and caterer what they would do in the event of unexpected guests, because it’s pretty embarrassing not to have a chair for everyone (even if it’s not your fault).
15. You weren’t prepared for delays.
Delays are a fact of life at weddings, so you want to ask the venue how much flexibility they’ll have should things run long.
16. Neighbors without a soul make a noise complaint.
If your wedding is taking place in a residential area it’s smart to check in with neighbors to let them know when the noise will stop and ask for their understanding.
17. Local sound ordinances shut things down early.
Before settling on a venue be sure to ask about any local ordinances that might cut your night short.
18. The catering blows it.
The food may be great at the tasting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the caterer will be able to promptly serve it to a large group with the same level of quality. Don’t be afraid to ask a caterer how much experience they have handling large gatherings and to request a reference.
19. Some idiot decides to make a roast toast.
It’s a good idea to remind potential speakers to keep things family-friendly and not embarrass the newlyweds.
20. The music choices turn the dance floor into a 21+ club.
Increasingly inebriated and randy guests often request music that isn’t appropriate for an event with your grandma. Asking the DJ to limit requests and focus on playing songs that everyone can dance to will stop the reception from turning into the VMAs. One more thing… be sure to give your DJ a “do not play” list!
21. One (or many more) guests are out of control.
Having someone (like a wedding coordinator or member of the wedding party) politely ask overly exuberant guests to bring it down a notch will help.
22. A crucial piece of equipment doesn’t work.
When interviewing vendors you should ask each one what they’d do if something were to go wrong. Do they have a back-up camera? A second microphone? You never want to hire anyone unless you’re confident they can do their job even if things don’t go exactly according to plan.
23. You let your wedding be ruined.
Something inevitably goes wrong at every wedding, but if you keep your focus on what’s really important — the beautiful union that you and your partner are forging — then not even a hurricane could ruin it. (Okay, maybe a hurricane.)