A-Z of handling those last minute hitches

Our handy little guide to quell those nerves
if anything goes wrong?

Just keep smiling and don’t panic – help is here

What with stress, excitement, little food, some alcohol and various other challenges, your breath may not be as fresh as you’d like it to be all day long. Pack some breath freshener or sweets and keep them handy. They’ll also help if you find your mouth and throat getting a bit dry.

Make sure you have a standby – anything will do – that you know is reliable and will ‘get you to the church on time’, as the line goes in the old musical My Fair Lady. No matter how much other people may assure you that the vehicle in question is foolproof, be a cynic and demand that the standby should be available even so. This is one time when you do not want your cynicism to be proven right.

This is an extremely unlikely possibility, but it has been known. Know where the best local restaurants and takeaways are located. If all else fails despatch someone to go and fetch extra drinks and snacks from the nearest pub or supermarket. Then in the meantime call or send another volunteer to the local food outlets to see what they can do in a short space of time and then, relax. Fish and chips with champagne? Why not?


Once again this is an unlikely possibility, but you can allow for it in your plans. Make sure you have a stock of recorded music in a form that’s compatible with the playback system at your venue. Ensure that these items are readily available at your reception. With luck you won’t need any of it, but should push come to shove you will be prepared.

Many shops sell stainremoval wipes and kits; invest in the best available pack and make sure it’s available at all times throughout the ceremony and reception. A good place to keep it is in the handbag of someone who is likely to be near you most of the time – mother, mother-in-law, sister.


This may seem obvious, but make sure someone in the bridal party has a needle and some cotton thread available. Failing that, there are some adhesive substances available which will stick fabric together at very short notice. Your local haberdashery counter in a department store will have some ideas; alternatively, your local ironmongers or supermarket will have appropriate products. Buy some before the big day and have it handy. And if even that fails? Use some double-sided sticky tape. It may not be a solution that lasts for months, but right now all that counts is a few hours – and that should do the trick.

Well, if flowers make you sneeze it would seem you have some sort of allergy and therefore should be having treatment for it already. However if you’re just an occasional hay fever sufferer, do yourself a favour and buy some over-the-counter antihistamine tablets which you can pop should your floral choice make you sniffy.

Should you get the Big Freeze at the last moment, don’t panic. Remember why you’re there and what your role is. It’s not rocket science, and you are not expected to deliver a Dimbleby lecture. All you need to do, really, is toast the people you’ve been assigned to toast, say a few nice things about the bridal party and then sit down and relax. Don’t forget that. If all else fails and you forget or freeze up what you have prepared, just say the basics, smile, and sit down. That’s all that really matters.

The stress and hyperactivity of a wedding day can give many people headaches, so pack some paracetamol or ibuprofen in someone handy’s pocket or bag. If there’s room somewhere, a small bottle of mineral or spring water is a useful idea too.

Put a pack of superglue in with your make-up emergency kit. Preferably get someone else to do the sticking together, in case you get some superglue on your fingers!

Most people involved in the wedding advisory business emphasise how important it is to ensure that whatever clothes are hired for a wedding are not only sized appropriately at the ordering stage, but also are tried on and confirmed at least a few days before the wedding so should there be an embarrassing mistake, there’s time to get something done about it. Strictly speaking this is more likely to be an issue for the boys to consider. But don’t ignore it. Please.


In all honesty, when you’re making plans for a wedding you’re very likely to know who amongst the key people is likely to get drunk and probably, at what stage of the proceedings. If you want to play it utterly safe, don’t place all your hopes for a decent performance on such a person. Allow them the benefit of the doubt by all means, but don’t stress yourself out wondering whether person X will manage to get there sober. Have an alternative on standby who can take over – or better still, pick a more reliable type in the first place.

Once again this is an extremely unlikely option, but it can happen. Should that be the case, get your bridal attendants to ask around quickly if someone is willing to lend their ring/rings. Obviously those can be returned as soon as the offending items are found again, but borrowed items can be seen as OK by most religions – in an emergency. What matters at the end of the day is not the symbols, like rings, but the actuality of your marriage. No sweat.

Remember this will have to be lodged in a safe place like the handbag of a close relative, so everything must be small-sized. However, try if you can to include spare lipstick, compressed powder (appropriate colours for bride and bridesmaids), tissues, a small mirror, comb, brush, small container of hairspray, etc.

Have a small pack of make-up remover pads included in your make-up emergency kit. Remove the smear with the pad, cover over with concealer the same colour as your foundation then apply compressed powder, eyeshadow, lipstick, blusher, etc as appropriate.

You’d think everyone would be aware of this one by now, but believe me people still forget to switch their phones off or to silent during weddings and other ceremonial occasions, only to be frazzled with embarrassment when the things go off at exactly the wrong moment. However don’t be tempted to leave yours at home, because if something should go wrong at the last minute you’ll have it handy. Just remember to switch it off.

Pack a pair of nail scissors and an emery board in your make-up emergency kit (see above) plus a bottle of the varnish you have used to do your nails, so you can touch up. Depending on how the nail has broken you may be able to stick it back together with the superglue.

Sometimes an attack of nerves can catch you unawares. Should that happen stop yourself for a moment and breathe in and out slowly and gently. Sit down if you can, especially if you feel faint. Concentrate on your breathing and feel how it helps you relax. Continue breathing gently, slowly, but fully as you get up and start off again. Many people swear by Bach Rescue Remedy, a herbal preparation, as an instant help to get you through a traumatic moment or two. You may find it helpful to include some of this stuff in your make-up emergency kit; it’s available in a variety of forms from most pharmacies in the UK.

If you’re using a bridal car service, the chauffeurs should have a stock of umbrellas in the boot ready for downpours. If you’re planning other forms of transport, though, be sure there are sufficient umbrellas available in the vehicle. If wind is likely to be a problem, the bride and bridesmaids should invest in some large chiffon scarves.


At most weddings there will be several people among the guests who will bring their cameras. If your photographer doesn’t turn up, pick one or two people who know how to use their cameras and ask them to take some pictures of the early stages of your wedding at least. Provided that they’re using digital cameras you will be able to see whether the shots are any good right away, and reshoot any that don’t turn out too well. This way if the photographer does eventually turn up, you won’t necessarily have to stage the early photo set-ups again for his or her benefit.


Most dedicated function venues have a back-up generator system in place so even if there is a powercut they can still provide electricity. If your venue is in a less usual place, or at home, you won’t have this benefit. To allow for powercuts when there is no reason to suspect one is likely may be a little too pessimistic! However if your venue is in an area known to be prone to powercuts, or if thunderstorms are predicted on the day, it’s a good idea to have at least some of the menu consisting of cold dishes and to prepare a supply of candles or gas lights.

Include a bottle of clear nail varnish in your make-up emergency kit, and dab some of this on each end of the ladder. That will stop it progressing any further. It’s also a good idea for the bride to have a spare pair of tights or stockings available, especially if you’re going to make an issue of removing the garter.

If your wedding day is anywhere near the anticipated date of a period, make sure you put a tampon or two in with the make-up emergency kit.

Here you will need to use your discretion and decide whether to stretch a point and let them in. In some circumstances this is easier than getting into a disagreement. However, some uninvited guests are more unwelcome than others. If you think there is any risk at all of such people turning up, warn a few large male family members and friends that their expulsion skills may be required.

Excerpt taken from The A-Z of Wedding Wisdom by Susan St Maur, £8.99,
published by How To Books Ltd, www.howtobooks.co.uk

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