The mishap: The weatherman calls for rain, rain, and more rain.
The backup plan: While you can't prevent rain (don't you wish you could?), you can prepare. Plan B is just as important as plan A when it comes to an outdoor affair. Ask each venue you visit about their rainy-day plan. This way you can choose a location that already has a built-in backup plan, and you can prepare yourself (and your vendors) in case you need to take cover. You'll be glad you did when you're dry, happy, and married!
The mishap: Your loved one's uninvited on-again, off-again, apparently on-again significant other is in tow.
The backup plan: Yes, it's rude! But don't panic, and don't let it spoil your night. Let your planner worry about the details, and, who knows, your mystery guest might end up being the life of the party! When you're signing contracts, ask your vendors how they prepare for extra guests. Most, vendors, particularly caterers, come prepared with extras.
The mishap: You're late.
The backup plan: Draft a wedding-day schedule that leaves plenty of time for hair, makeup, transportation, and some buffer time to be safe. Now ask your planner or a trusted friend to keep everyone on track. If you're running late, do your best to start ASAP. Is a bridesmaid, groomsman, or family member MIA? Wait for 10 or 15 minutes, and then start without them. Your on-time guests will thank you.
The mishap: An emergency has your vendor tied up.
The backup plan: Step one: stay calm. Now contact your planner, who likely has a list of go-to vendors to help in emergencies, and let her take it from there. Contract tip: Read your vendor contracts carefully to ensure their cancellation policy works in your favor. At the very least you should get your money back. Some vendors may have their own backup plan where a colleague steps in for emergencies. Ask about it.
The mishap: The life of the party is too lively.
The backup plan: Put the bartenders in charge. Ask your bartenders to keep an eye out for over-imbibing guests. If someone is getting too drunk, give the bartenders the go-ahead to water-down drinks or refuse service, if necessary.