Any bride or groom will tell you that among their worst wedding-related nightmares is the fear that a vendor will back out or be a no-show on the big day. While the likelihood of either happening is low, it's a major worry for a reason: Imagine a wedding with an empty cake table, a reception with no music, or having to do your own hair and makeup because your stylist didn't show? Those are scary thoughts and a reality that you'll need a whole lot of patience and problem-solving skills to get through in the event it does happen to you. Here's what you need to know should you find yourself in this situation.
Lean on your community.
The wonderful thing about the wedding industry is that it's a community of its own. Ask your wedding planner, venue manager, caterer, or photographer for recommendations to replace the missing vendor. Assuming you have a little bit of lead time, you'll be able to find a pro to take on the job.
One of the biggest reasons a vendor will bail on your wedding day is that they've either overbooked themselves or confused your wedding date. To avoid having this happen to you, maintain a record of all written communications that outline the specific dates, hours, and financial agreements between you and your vendors. The first thing you should do if you've been told a vendor can no longer work on your celebration is consult your paper trail. Assuming the error isn't on your end, the vendor backing out should be willing to work with you on a solution.
On the day of, put someone else in charge of finding a backup plan.
If the unfortunate happens and a vendor is simply a big-day no-show, you'll be way too busy getting ready to find any form of replacement. If you have a wedding planner, they'll handle this and you may not even be aware that something's gone wrong. For those without a wedding planner, it's important that you ask someone else to deal with the issue at hand. Choose a friend who is patient and a natural problem solver to help you get through the next few hours, and trust that they'll sort out a backup plan that works well for everyone.
Keep it in perspective.
The reality is that someday this may be a story you can laugh about. In five years, will you really care that you had to resample cakes because your baker canceled a month before the big day? Does it really matter if you had to arrive at your wedding in a taxi because the limo never showed? You still made it to the wedding and all of your friends and family did, too. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture in these moments—that's what will keep you sane.
Understand their reasons.
There's a big difference between your pro overbooking and having a last-minute emergency. You'll want to understand what happened, and whether or not this was a breakdown in communication. If they're running late for your event, odds are it was a complete accident. While it may be unprofessional that they didn't manage their time properly, it's not helpful to harass them or go into freak-out mode. The best thing you can do in these moments is be compassionate and level-headed, as that allows you the clear mind you'll need to sort the problem through and come up with an acceptable solution.
Following your wedding, it's important you find you what exactly went wrong. If the vendor simply didn't show, you should ask when you can expect to see a refund of your deposit.