The minister couldn’t make it; the florist got stuck on the highway, the caterer got into a fender-bender, and more than 60 guests canceled. Though the ceremony still went ahead as planned, it was officiated by Kermit the Frog.
“It was Oct. 29th, so you figure you’re safe. The worst thing you worry about in October is the wind and rain,” said Jacques Lamarre, director of communication and special projects at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford.
But the last weekend in October 2011 was anything but ordinary. For Lamarre and his partner, Arthur Galinat, it was historic; and not just because they got married. A freak snowstorm slammed Connecticut on the day of their wedding, dumping more than a foot of snow, causing widespread damage and power outages.
“When you stepped outside, you could literally hear the trees snapping,” Lamarre said.
Despite the weather, more than 200 costumed guests still braved the elements to attend the Halloween-themed nuptials, and when the minister was unable to get there, they asked Galinat’s father to step in and perform the ceremony instead.
“My father-in-law is a justice of the peace,” explained Lamarre. “and he was dressed as Kermit the Frog, so we got married by Kermit the Frog.”
Fortunately it was still a great time and no one was hurt. “We didn’t want a cookie-cutter wedding,” he said. “So that’s mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned. And the people who made it said it was a wedding they will never forget.”
It’s fair to say that most couples getting married hope for an unforgettable wedding, if not exactly the kind that Lamarre and Galinat ended up having. But things like bad weather and other uncontrollable circumstances can thwart even the most carefully planned nuptials, and often do.
“We tell our clients that they should not expect perfection,” said Nancy Goldstein, managing partner of Amazing Celebrations and Events LLC, a full-service event management company based in Glastonbury. “If they don’t expect perfection, they’ll have the perfect day.”
But it can be difficult to keep expectations in check when most weddings involve thousands of dollars, countless details, months — even years — of planning, and most of all, strong emotions for couples and their families.
“So much buildup goes into a wedding,” agreed Goldstein, “as it should be. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
But, like anything, there are always things you can’t control, and Goldstein has pretty much seen it all; from couples who forget to procure a wedding license, to grooms who pass out during the ceremony, to, yep, bad weather.
“We had a client re-sod their backyard for their [outdoor] wedding and then there was practically a monsoon,” Goldstein said. “It rained so hard that it washed away the sod. The guests were covered in mud, the aisle was a muddy mess and it was like a swamp under the tent. It was the most insane event I’ve ever run.”
Somehow, they made it work with throw rugs, potted plants and umbrellas, and everyone still managed to have a great time. It’s a good reason to hire a professional planner, according to Goldstein. “If things go wrong, we’re there, and we’re going to take care of them.”
It’s reasonable to expect that on any given wedding day there will be glitches, both big and small. At Peter and Chelsea Reinhold’s wedding, held at the Waterview in Monroe this past autumn, the DJ couldn’t play the song they had choreographed their first dance to, so the crowd had to sing it to them instead.
Was it what they had hoped for? Not really, but Chelsea said they made the best of it. “Would I change it? Probably not. It’s a fun story; mishaps make for better storytelling.”
And there can be any number of other glitches, as well. Guests get intoxicated, people run late, things are forgotten, the transportation doesn’t show up, or there are arguments between couples and families. But time management, according to Brian Ambrose of Brian Ambrose Photography in Glastonbury, is often the biggest contributor to wedding day hiccups.
“The most common thing that goes awry is that people don’t allocate enough time for hair, makeup, transitioning time, to when the photographer arrives, to getting to the church on time,” he said. “People get lost in the day.”
He recommends having options and planning ahead in order to avoid some of the more common pitfalls. He suggests an extra pair of shoes for the bride so she doesn’t have to walk in her heels for photographs that are taken outside of the venue. Ambrose also suggests ordering an extra boutonniere. “The first person who hugs the groom breaks the boutonniere,” he said.
Making provisions for weather is also important. “Heat is a huge concern,” Ambrose said. “We’ve had people pass out because of heat, nerves and anxiety.”
So he advises prospective wedding couples to keep the time of day for the ceremony in mind and make necessary accommodations, like extra chairs or coolers full of water and food for the wedding party bus.
His best advice, however, is just to roll with the punches. “There’s only so much prep time and things you have control over on that day, and only so much you can change, so try not to stress.”
Goldstein offered her own recommendation on how to survive wedding mishaps.
“Focus on the fact that you are with your family and friends and getting married, not that one flower in the arrangement drooped, or that the band didn’t play one song, or the caterer forgot a food item. Those aren’t important things.
“What’s important is being fortunate enough to be able to celebrate life. These moments are a gift and that’s what people should be focusing on.”