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Stress SOS! How to cope with wedding disasters

From handling a dress disaster to coping with torrential rain, we ask the experts for their top tips to handle wedding stress

Every bride has a wedding day fear – whether it’s bad weather, the dress not fitting or your names being read wrong. The good news is that for every potential problem, there’s a solution. We’ve assembled a team of industry pros to show you how to face the most common bridal worries – so you can shed the stress and start focusing on the fun stuff again!

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I’m worried about… bad weather

You’ve planned a picture-perfect outdoor reception. Unfortunately, you’ve checked the forecast and the weather doesn’t seem to have got the memo.

The solution…

First: relax. A little forward thinking is all you need to make sure the wedding isn’t a washout – whatever the weather. “Think about back-up photograph locations and how you’re going to style them,” advises top planner Kelly Chandler. “With marquee or garden weddings consider additional matting for pathways and covers for an outdoor drinks reception, and bring plenty of umbrellas.” Always make a plan B that you love: then if you end up not needing it, it’s a bonus.

I’m worried about… a dress disaster

You’re finally wearing the dream dress you spent so long searching for, but as you turn
 to look in the mirror, you see it’s too tight, too baggy, or – horror! – there’s a smear of foundation on the white fabric.
 Aargh!

The solution…

Avoid any drastic last-minute diets to ensure a perfect fit. “It’s best if brides
 are happy with their weight by the time of 
the first fitting – usually six to eight weeks before the wedding day,” explains Sama Hemsley of London boutique Blackburn Bridal Couture. “From then on 
it’s about maintaining or toning rather than shedding pounds.” But, if your weight does change, it’s not a disaster: a few pounds either way won’t be noticeable.

Most dresses have a tiny bit of ‘ease’ in the seams, so they can be fractionally taken out, too. As for the dreaded make-up-on-dress scenario, Sama has a genius insider tip: “White tailor’s chalk – you can pick it up from most dry cleaners. It has a temporary, light effect and can mask foundation.”

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I’m worried about… my make-up not lasting

Your make-up barely makes it through a stressful morning at work – how on earth are you going to avoid panda eyes and oil-slick skin through all the emotions, drinking and dancing of your wedding day? 

The solution…

“Preparation is key,” explains Jane Richardson, international lead make-up artist at NARS. “I always hydrate the skin and then use a primer before applying complexion products. Apply foundation where you need it, use concealer and then set with normal loose powder – really work it into the skin, using a ‘rock and roll’ motion over the face with your powder puff. Don’t be afraid to slightly over-powder, as by the time you’re ready to go your skin will have warmed up and the make-up settled.” For those tearful moments, use a won’t-budge liner, such as NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner. “Put the chief bridesmaid in charge of a bag of touch-up essentials, such as compact powder foundation, lip products, a few tissues and cotton buds, and ask her to keep an eye on you before the photographer takes the shots.”

I’m worried about… slouching down the aisle

The idea of all those eyes watching as you walk towards your groom gives you butterflies – the bad kind.

The solution…

Even if you weren’t born with perfect posture, you can train your body to think otherwise. Ballet teacher and posture expert Sarah Toner recommends working on core strength to give you the confidence to glide down that aisle. “Ballet promotes great elegance, and you could try body conditioning, which is a form of Pilates-like exercises. And, even if you’re not wearing heels, you can still walk tall. Caroline Goyder, author of confidence-building book Gravitas, recommends imagining a heavy dragons tail at the bottom of your spine (yes, really) to make your spine lengthen up. 

I’m worried about… our names being pronounced wrongly

“We are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Timothy and Harriet.” The problem is, your names are Thomas and Hannah.

The solution…

“This is every celebrant’s worst nightmare, but luckily I’ve never heard of this actually happening,” says Hannah Hart, experienced celebrant with the British Humanist Association. Whether your name is tricky to pronounce or not, always double-check it with your registrar just before the ceremony to avoid a Four Weddings moment.

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I’m worried about… messing up my vows

It’s the big moment. You open your mouth to promise to ‘love, honour and cherish’ and all that comes out is a cross between a sob and a gasp.

The solution…

Practice makes perfect. “When you’re anxious, it’s hard to think straight. Go through the vows the day before with friends – if you’ve practised, you tend to find the words just come naturally,” says voice coach Caroline Goyder. Try some professional theatre tricks: when you get to the front, think about relaxing your feet into your shoes, which worked for Laurence Olivier’s stage fright. Actors also imagine they have a really great secret when they’re talking – it gives you a smile in your voice and your eyes.

I’m worried about… being disappointed in my decorations

You have a very detailed picture in your head of how your day should look, but do you sometimes worry if your suppliers share your vision? 

The solution…

It’s all about communication. Make sure you have a face-to-face meeting with all your key suppliers and clearly explain what you want – that way your cake maker won’t show up with a modern cake when you’re going for a rustic look. And, inform them of any major changes like numbers, locations and dates. Don’t panic if you haven’t had a response within the hour: they’re unlikely to be desk-based and will be working on multiple weddings.

I’m worried about… looking bad in the pictures

You regularly untag yourself from photos on Facebook because you find them unflattering; in fact, you think you’re just not photogenic – and you hate having your picture taken. 

The solution…

First things first: there’s no such thing as a naturally unphotogenic person. “Absolutely everyone has something interesting, and as a result, beautiful, about them. I love finding that certain quality when I photograph weddings,” says photographer Aneta Mak. Make sure you meet your photographer beforehand, too, so that you can get to know them and feel comfortable. Consider an engagement shoot to build a bond with your photographer.

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I’m worried about… an empty dancefloor

This was supposed to be the party of the century, but after the wedding breakfast everyone is stuck in their seats looking tired (was that a yawn?).

The solution…

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Keep the bar and dancefloor in the same room to make sure guests stay there after the first dance. You play a part, too: guests naturally gravitate towards the bride and groom, and if you’re dancing, they will too. Avoid any potential mood-spoilers, like announcing the evening buffet’s been laid while the party is in full swing, and keep music varied to appeal to all generations.