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How to Deal If a Wedding Vendor Is Late on the Big Day

Start by staying calm.

Contributing Writer
wedding ceremony aisle
Photography by: Heather Waraksa

You planned the wedding of your dreams, and the day is finally here. Then the florist doesn't show up, or the officiant is caught in traffic. What should you do? "Calm down and try not to panic," says Lisa Costin, co-founder and creative director of A Charming Fête. If you don't have a wedding planner to solve the problem, don't try to fix the situation by yourself. Instead, get help from someone who can stay focused and calm. Your maid of honor, mom, or a close friend are all good choices. Then, ask your newly-appointed point person to do these three things. And, in the very unlikely event your vendor never arrives, we've got tips for you, too.

 

Related: How to Break Up with a Bad Wedding Vendor

 

Contact the missing vendor in multiple ways.

Call their cell-phone, as well as their main business number. Leave messages. Text them. Next, reach out to them on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social media. "Most people will see and respond to this before they see an email," says Costin. "Post an urgent message. Other people will see it and may offer help."

 

Call other vendors.

If there were other vendors you'd met with but ultimately didn't hire, don't be embarrassed to send them an SOS. If they're not booked or can make the time, they'll likely help. Since it's so last-minute, have an open mind about the offerings and accept they'll probably be different from what you'd planned. If you do hire a new vendor, don't haggle with the no-show if he eventually shows up, says Costin. "Deal with him and try to get your money back after the wedding."

 

Push the wedding back a bit.

Have an announcement made that you're waiting for someone and that things will be starting shortly. If your ceremony and reception are at the same place, ask the catering manager if a non-alcoholic drink (water, lemonade, iced tea) can be passed around to appease guests while they wait, says Costin.

 

Still not there? Consider these last-minute solutions.

There's a difference between being late and not showing up at all. If your vendors are still MIA and you need to start the wedding, it's time to explore new options. If the officiant is the no-show, you have only a few options. "This is a big one," says Costin. "You need a certified person to officiate the ceremony. If you can't find one, say your vows to each other in front of your family and friends." You can make it official at city hall on Monday or after the honeymoon. You'll find you have a little more flexibility with some of the other vendors. Catering is another important one. To ensure there's food for everyone to eat, call local restaurants and see if anyone can deliver. Depending on their bandwidth, you may need to order food from a few different places. As for dessert, send someone to a local bakery to pick up a plain white cake that you can cut into. Additional cakes, cookies, or cupcakes can be purchased for guests, too.

 

Another vendor that's a pretty big deal? Your photographer. Having this pro be a no-show on the big day can be devastating, but Costin has some tips to lessen the blow. "If you have a friend or relative who has a semi-professional camera, ask them to stand in the photographer's place," she says, "and ask everyone else to capture as much as they can with their phones." While not ideal, if it's your DJ that's missing, ask the venue if they have a speaker system you can use. A music-loving friend can put together a custom Spotify playlist with dinner music and dance tunes. As for flowers, Costin suggests sending someone to Costco or Whole Foods, which have good selections of fresh blooms. You can also see if the caterer can lend some extra candles or vases.