No one wants to consider the alternatives should the unexpected happen once the wedding day arrives. Most couples are focused on planning the wedding of their dreams and cannot face entertaining the idea things won't go quite as expected.
Realistically, it isn't even possible to consider each and every potential turn of events. However, some types of weddings absolutely necessitate a Plan B, and all couples should open themselves up to the idea that a little flexibility may be required when the time comes.
I don't mean you should plan a shadow wedding and arrange for alternatives for every aspect of your big day. You do not need to hire a back up photographer should yours get sick, book two venues in case one burns down, or have an extra bridesmaid and groomsmen lined up as understudies. Be realistic, not paranoid.
If you are planning on outdoor wedding, clearly you need to arrange for an alternative location in the event of inclement weather. These weddings demand a Plan B. Many of the couples I work with who are in the process of planning an outdoor wedding are surprised to see I require an alternative sheltered location on my contract. It honestly has not occurred to them that a change may be dictated by natural events beyond their control. I want them to understand I am not only concerned with everyone's safety, but am adaptable and can help make sure their wedding is as close to perfect as possible, even under trying circumstances.
Regardless of where your wedding and reception will be held, all couples hiring professional vendors (photographer, caterer, officiant, DJ, etc.) should ask about the vendors' backup plans for their particular role in the wedding
Although I have met with hundreds of couples, less than a handful have inquired what would happen if I got sick or had some other emergency that would prevent me from officiating their ceremony when the day arrived. Fortunately, I have had to rely on a replacement (though not a last minute replacement) just once in six and a half years. I am only human after all.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the "do it yourself wedding," some aspects of my own wedding definitely fall into that category. But the expertise and experience of professional wedding vendors can be worth its weight in gold should the unexpected arise. Your cousin, the photo hobbyist, may not have a ready list of colleagues who can substitute for him should he fall ill at the most inconvenient time for your wedding. Professional florists and decorators can quickly move decor to another location in a fraction of the time it might take an amateur.
I have personally witnessed some "wedding miracles" courtesy of fast-thinking, creative vendors facing all sorts of hiccups. Foul weather, absent or tardy members of the wedding party, late deliveries, horrendous traffic delays, broken or lost items, etc. These are the folks who make your wedding day an absolute dream! (pssst....and they know each other, so ask for referrals)
I chose to illustrate using pictures from Keely and Jonathan Ede's wedding because it was a perfect example of the importance of a Plan B. Their intention to have a beach wedding was rudely interrupted by a little bit of weather we fondly refer to as Hurricane Sandy. Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings and Lucy Paulson of the Cocoa Beach Pier rescued the day for Keely and Jonathan. The couple were still able to exchange vows by the ocean and include both a Sand Ceremony and a Wish Upon a Shell ritual in their wedding ceremony, but avoid the wind and rain. I am thoroughly impressed with Shannon's ability to capture their day considering the tight quarters, unnatural lighting, and sheet glass windows behind us. Your wedding professionals make a huge difference, especially when conditions are less than optimal.
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.