Wedding Day Disasters and How You Can Avoid Them

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Every bride fears having a wedding day disaster that they can’t fix or recover from, and I can tell you from photographing dozens of weddings a year for the past 9 years, something usually DOES go wrong, but it’s never something you can’t recover from, especially if you have a positive mindset! Here I’m sharing the “disasters” I ran into and how they were solved:

 @Jill Gearhart Photography |

Dress Wont Zip

Yes, I experienced the dreaded broken zipper. Luckily, it was a bridesmaid and not the bride, but the effect was still devastating. As the girls were getting ready, minutes before we needed to head upstairs to get in place for the ceremony, the maid of honors dress split wide open. We tried safety pins, but unfortunately the dress was a little tight so those didn’t hold. We tried duct tape inside the seam (more on when this DOES work!), but that didn’t hold up either. What on earth did we do?! Some blessed soul had an emergency kit with a needle and thread and we literally sewed the dress together as she was wearing it.

Lesson learned: bring a needle and thread that matches all dress colors!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography |

Botched Boutineers

Real talk here: boutineers are such a pain in the butt. Of course, they add elegance to the suits, match the florals that the rest of the party is carrying, but attaching them is always, ALWAYS a hassle. I’ve been to so many weddings where the groomsmen have no idea how to attach a flower to their suit with a single solitary pin without making themselves object to bloody torture. I’ve learned how to attach boutineers with my eyes closed, so I’m happy to help. Most times though, the stems are wrapped so tight, or there is wire under all that floral tape, so that the inserted pins bend, break, or stick whoever is trying to wrangle them. The solution? Ideally, talk to your florist about adding a fastener as they make/wrap the stems. Magnets don’t work, so don’t even attempt that. If you’re in need of a quick fix, have an extra box of pins handy and use two per boutineer!

Lesson learned: expect the boutineer pins to break and bring extra!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography |

No One’s Calling Shotgun

Little details get overlooked all the time, but when your bridal party is standing in a parking lot wondering what to do next won’t seem like such a little detail. One wedding I photographed had the girls traveling from the getting ready location to a picture spot pre-ceremony. While the bridesmaids had rides to the ceremony with family members all squared away, this quick detour left them all stranded. My second shooter and I were able to pile them all into our cars and get to the location and then back to the hotel where their rides to the ceremony could pick them up at a certain time.

Lesson learned: hire a nice photographer, and ask everyone in your bridal party to arrange a ride for themselves!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography |

Dirty Dress

Every bride worries about looking perfect all day long, and I usually tell my brides to anticipate some kind of dirt, stain, or mark on their dress. It’s okay. It’s going to happen. One time I had a bride DRAG her dress through the muddy ground for some portraits outside after the ceremony. When you’re in the moment, it can be tempting to just book it to the next thing, I totally understand that! This bride was an amazing sport to not be deterred by the less than idea conditions outside, but when it was time to be announced in for the reception, the dress had to be cleaned up and fast. I had some baby wipes in my camera bag from a cake smash session earlier in the week, and would you know, those wipes did wonders on getting the dirt out from the delicate lace and tulle, and covering large areas at a time for a quick clean up.

Lesson learned: bunch your dress around your knees when walking outside, and grab a pack of shout wipes for your emergency bag!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography |

Bustle Hassle

I love a great wedding dress train - its so classic and elegant. It’s important, though, to give it the time and attention it deserves as a major part of your wedding day wardrobe. Trains are like a member of your bridal party: they need their own space in the car, their own designated time to get ready, their own coordinator to be put in a certain place during the ceremony, and their own plan for dealing with disaster! I’m talking bustles here. Whether you do a ribbon tying method, buttons, or snaps, make sure that the final length of your gown BUSTLED is correct for the shoes your going to wear at your RECEPTION. I had several brides rip their bustles right out, and their dress material, because their dress was too long after it had been bustled and they took off their heels. What did we do? It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but duct tape inside the dress works well to keep ripped apart bustles in place. I’ve also tied ripped material together for brides so the damage would travel further up the dress.

Lesson learned: take your reception flats along to the seamstress putting in your bustle and make sure it’s high enough and secure! Also take someone in your family or bridal party along to learn how to work the bustle system put in your dress!

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Bouquet to No One

There’s nothing more awkward that chucking you bouquet behind you to all the single ladies - and then NO ONE wants to catch it and it just flops on the floor. Yep it’s happened so many times. Unless your bridal party is full of gals and guys that are single, you may seriously want to reconsider this tradition. More and more brides are opting NOT to do the bouquet toss because it seems a little mean-spirited to parade your single friends around, and it usually ends up awkward.

Lesson Learned: Unless you have bridesmaids that are single and PUMPED for the bouquet toss, you may want to toss the toss.

 @Jill Gearhart Photography |

No Wifi - So What?

I’m sure you know that DJ’s don’t cart around CD’s and records anymore to their gigs, but did you know that a lot of them rely on STREAMING music into your event? That means wifi! I’ve been to a few weddings and heard HORROR stories from people as well where the DJ didn’t have wifi and have nothing to play for the wedding, or was missing key songs because they didn’t have them in their library! What did they do? At one wedding, a bridesmaid ended up hooking up her phone to the DJ right through an aux cord and played the needed songs as she treated from youtube with her cellular data.

Lesson learned: ask your DJ if they need wifi capability in your vendor meetings, and ask your venue if they have it!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography |

Rain on Your Wedding Day

It might not be the most appropriate song to play at your reception, but rain on your wedding day ISN’T the disaster that some make it out to be. I’ve photographed a few weddings in the rain, and if the forecast is calling for showers a week out, I have had that conversation with my brides and made a contingency plan. When the location and aesthetic is right, we have used covered bridges, we have also used umbrellas for some bridal party shots if there are enough to go around! Finding a covered staircase or entryway is also a great option for group portraits in the rain. Some of the most beautiful and dramatic bride and groom portraits can be taken in the rain when the lighting is dark outside, so don’t get too sad about some drizzle!

Lesson learned: check the forecast, plan alternate photo locations that are covered, buy umbrellas for everyone, and trust your photographer!