It Wasn’t My Dream Wedding: 5 Tips for When the Big Day Doesn’t Go According to Plan

Autumn Kern Photo

Photo Credit: Autumn Kern

The ants go marching one-by-one, hurrah!

...Hundreds of them, single file, across the floor, up the table skirt, to the tippy top…

Of the cake.

My banana cream, dirty-iced-to-look-effortlessly-elegant-with-sprigs-of-greens-arranged-just-so, wedding cake. Infested with ants.

This is not what bridal dreams are made of.

The cake wasn’t the only thing that went awry that day…

Rain in the forecast threatened my hope for outdoor photos among the luscious early summer greens.

The DJ played the wrong version of “Forever Young” up the aisle (it was the upbeat version from PARENTHOOD I was after!)

The bartender forgot to stop serving alcohol after dinner, allowing some guests to become a little more “buzzed” than we may have wished.

The videographer stopped rolling tape during our vows (I should have hired Revelations but Lindsay was busy being my Matron of Honor!)

My brand new husband had to abandon me on the dance floor early due to a massive migraine.

Our sparkler exit was almost forgotten by the DJ, bless his heart.

And it was the very best day.

How am I able to say so, looking back? Check out these 5 tips for staving off disappointment when your Big Day doesn’t go according to plan:

1.The Plan as an Outline, Not a Script

Offense is the best defense. By the same token, the best way to cope with disappointment around your wedding plans is to hold them loosely. View your plans as a guideline for how you’d like the day to go, with the expectation that something will likely go wrong. People are human, weather is unpredictable; give it grace. Give yourself grace. Anticipating that something would probably be “off” about our day allowed me to not be surprised (read, blindsided) when these glitches occurred.

2. It’s Okay to Grieve the Loss

Please hear me when I say that I understand it’s not easy to let go of a dream. As brides, many of us have longed for this day since we were 5 and toddling around in our mama’s heels, practicing for our walk down the aisle. You’ve had so much time to think over every detail of this day. You might feel guilty/ungrateful/superficial for dwelling on these details. But the truth is there was real effort and real time and real expense that went into this planning process. Disrupted wedding plans are a significant loss. And the natural emotional response to loss is grief. Let yourself feel those feelings; they shouldn’t be disregarded. Sit with them for a moment, grieve the loss of your vision, but please don’t live there.

3. Look for the Good

When we hold so tightly to our ideal, it has the power to consume us. I pray that you’ll remember this tip on your big day if a moment comes bearing disappointment: there is still good. Seek it out. Take mental pictures. (Jim and Pam from The Office, anyone?) Don’t let a small (or significant) hiccup in the itinerary derail your whole day. Actively seek to notice all of the magical experiences of the day so that the story you will tell of your wedding will be of the light and not of the shadows.

4.Find the Humor

Come on, ants on the cake? That’s pretty darn hilarious! Like, who does that even happen to?! What’s even more funny, is that we hurried up to take a picture standing with it before dinner pretending to cut it before it was whisked away. Funniest? Pretty sure it was still served that night and you bet it was DELICIOUS. Those unexpected twists are what make your day uniquely yours, give you something to chuckle about with your new spouse on your honeymoon flight, give you a story to share around the dinner table with your children, with your grandchildren. I wasn’t exactly looking lovingly on those ants on the cake in that moment, but finding the humor in changeups can help you to remember every moment of your day more fondly.

5.Remember the Reason

I bet you knew this tip was coming, but it can’t really go unsaid. When your wedding plans go off track, remember the reason for the celebration: a marriage.

Remember, when the rain falls,

When the venue is double-booked,

When the flower order is all wrong,

When the ants go marching on the cake,

When postponements and cancellations arise...

If, at the end of the day you are married to the love of your life, then any wedding day story is a success story.

Autumn Kern Photo

Photo Credit: Autumn Kern

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