You're in the midst of planning your wedding so take a moment to sit back and envision the day to come. What you imagine is a day full of romance, one that is absolutely perfect and not a thing out of place. Everything, from the flowers in your bouquet to the cloudless sky, is exactly as you want it to be.
Welcome to reality. Have you ever heard of Murphy's Law? You know the one that goes, "whatever can go wrong will?" Considering all the numerous details of the day, and add in the many people involved (vendors, staff, wedding party, friends, family), the potential for something not quite right definitely exists.
Wedding "disasters" come in many forms - from problems that are "fixable" such as the wrong flower in your bouquet, lipstick on your wedding gown, or the dj playing the wrong song for the first dance, to the necessity of major re-vamping of the day itself because of rain storms, blizzards and power outages, or the sudden illness of a member of the wedding party or a parent. No, deciding now to elope is probably NOT the best solution. However, there are some things that you can do to keep the stress levels down, and help avoid a traumatic meltdown should something not go as planned.
Adhere to the Boy Scout's Motto - Be Prepared. Some disasters can be remedied with some troubleshooting as they occur - hems come undone, the florist forgets to leave the boutonnieres, the glass cake topper is broken, one of the readers forgets her copy of the reading. Just make sure the right tools are available, and designate someone else to be in charge of fixing such things, (a trusted friend or relative, or a professional wedding consultant). You're the bride. You don't need to be worrying about anything on your wedding day.
They say an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure. Other disasters can be prevented with careful planning. First of all, book your locations before booking any service vendor. This avoids the possibility of a vendor not being available in case of a date change due to availability of locations. After booking locations, find out all rules and regulations they require. You don't want to have been planning something for months only to be told on your wedding day "No. We don't allow that." Also, and I can't stress this enough, get EVERYTHING in writing - the title and artist of the song for the special dances, specific types and colors of flowers for each arrangement, your specific menu choices including serving times for each course, etc. That way you know that everyone is thinking the same thing and if there is a discrepancy you've got a powerful tool to back you up.
Of course, during the planning stage, there will be changes, so when notifying vendors about a change do so in more than one fashion. For example, after your phone call to your baker about wanting a stacked cake with alternating chocolate and white layers and roses out of butter cream icing instead of the tiered all white cake with silk flowers, write a short letter or e-mail restating your request. Yes, you're working with professionals who most likely can do their job wonderfully with one arm tied behind his or her back, but we are human beings and notes can be misplaced, handwriting not legible, answering machine garbles your message, and so on. Also, a little reminder never hurts, so the week of the wedding, make sure someone confirms with all of your vendors as to who, what, where, when, etc.
Take all possibilities into account, especially when planning an outdoor ceremony and/or reception. "What if" it rains. Is there a building on the premises that we have access to? Can we put up a tent? Keep in mind the month and season when you'll get married. What is the weather usually like that time of year? Planning an outdoor ceremony for August? Remember, tents will shield your guest from the hot sun too. Have bottled water available. Is the parking area adequate to hold the number of vehicles you have in mind? Is the parking surface sufficient? Are there enough bathrooms? What about access to electricity? Do you need to spray for bugs?
Have a "Plan B" in case Mother Nature nixes your plans for an outdoor event. Have a back up location available. Address and directions for the secondary location should be included in your invitation, as well as contact information for someone for your guests to call with any questions. This person should be the one who will make "the call" to put your "Plan B" in action. This decision should be made with enough time left to contact all of the vendors as to the site change. If thought of beforehand, proper arrangements can be made ahead of time rather than getting to your wedding day and either having to scramble to pull something together or not have it at all.