How to Avoid Wedding Day Disaster

Avoid Wedding Day Disasters Heather Hughes Photography

We’ve all heard a story or two about the wedding day gone wrong. And while deep down we realize you can’t have a TOTALLY perfect day, we still try, right!? I know for my wedding I thought I had an advantage because I’d been working as a wedding photographer for a couple years and I took over a year to plan. I had the inside scoop. And even with all that wedding planning expertise, still LOTS went wrong. So, now that I have photographed over 400 weddings over the last 17 years, I’d like to share the top 5 things I have seen gone wrong and what you can (try) to do to avoid wedding day disaster.

Wedding Day Disaster 1: Veil Trouble

I love those long, flowing, chapel-length veils. They make for gorgeous wedding photos and are SO dramatic. The super short birdcage ones are super cute, and the fingertip veils are the perfect in-between. But every veil comes with a few challenges. First, wait until you are done driving around (if you can) to put it in. The material clings to EVERYTHING. The longer the veil is, the harder it is to control outdoors (think wind, hugs, etc.). And be sure to ask for a few extra bobby pins from your hairstylist to anchor the clip to your head. That will help the veil stay put through all the hugs and in case dad steps on it while walking you down the aisle.

Wedding Day Disaster 2: The Drunk Bride

I am a strong believer in a glass of bubbly to help you relax on your wedding day. It’s a celebration after all, so, let’s celebrate! But with all the nerves you might forget to eat… or worse yet, forget to drink any water… Plus, wedding dresses are not known for keeping you cool. So, be sure to have a few bottles of water– even in the cooler months to help you avoid any embarrassing comments or behavior at the ceremony and reception.

Wedding Day Disaster 3: Trip Down the Aisle

Every bride fears tripping on her gown as she walks down the aisle. And even with the best seamstress and remembering to wear THE shoes to your alteration appointment, sometimes those gorgeous heels catch the edge of the dress with every step. My advice is to practice kicking up a little when you walk which will help the dress float up a little (and away from your toes) and is not usually noticeable. Plus, it can actually look nice by adding a nice little flow to the front of your dress.

Wedding Day Disaster 4: Wardrobe Malfunction

Whether you spent thousands of dollars or got a bargain at a consignment store, we all want to look AMAZING on our wedding day. So for brides and grooms, there are a few things to watch out for when it comes to your carefully selected wedding attire.

Guys — check your rentals at the store! I cannot tell you how many times the sleeves are too long or the pants are too short. Or worse, the shoes were too tight.

And ladies — try to have your dress done months ahead of time so you can try it on beforehand and check how it fits. While not ideal, you still have a little time to make adjustments if necessary. If you have straps or sleeves, use the hanger strings until the last minute so you don’t stretch them out and cut off the strings before walking down the aisle. The last thing you want to see are white strings in your armpit (and no, most photographers will not edit that out of hundreds of photos). And don’t worry, if you miss them you can always have new ones sewn back in.

Wedding Day Disaster 5: Weak Bustle

For those of you new to the term, ‘bustling’ is when the long train of the wedding dress is shortened. A bustle is created by sewing in a few hidden ribbons or loops and is typically used before the first dance to allow for tangle-free dancing. My advice? Ribbons hold better than loops. So, if you go with loops, MORE is better. I always advise my brides not to bustle before getting in a car, since scooting across the seat can tear them. But someone stepping on the dress on the dance floor can do the same thing. You can also tear your bustle simply dancing a lot! For a lighter destination dress, at least 3-5 loops is best. For heavier dresses and long trains? Go for the ribbons.

Tips from a Wedding Pro on How to Avoid Wedding Day Disaster

Like most couples, I had a few things go wrong on my wedding day. I thought it would be different since I had been photographing weddings for years. I had plenty of wedding planning experience and I worked with wedding pros for years, so I was better prepared. Right? Wrong.

Many times, the things that go wrong have nothing to do with plans made ahead of time, and despite them. Over the last 17 years working as a wedding photographer I have seen brides and grooms deal with wedding day disasters in different ways. And I’ve picked up a few tips to help avoid a few common and recurring problems. It’s my hope that these tips will help others avoid a few of the most common mistakes.

Get Help to Avoid Wedding Day Disaster!

Professional wedding coordinators really can make your day run more smoothly, come prepared with emergency kits for when things do go wrong, and eliminate a lot of stress before and on your big day. Here are a few in Hampton Roads that I have worked with and know do an AMAZING job:

Antonia Christianson Events | 757-541-8ACE

Cherry Blossom Planning Factory | 757-228-5494

Emily Weddings, Inc. | (757) 751-9336

Events by Truly Yours (Christy) | (804) 728-0667

Happy Hour Hostess | (757) 773-5351

The Main Event by Emily | (757) 357-2814

Wedding Co. of Williamsburg | (757) 719-0108

Vivid Expressions | (757) 802-3199

Heather Hughes Photography Studios

733 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Newport News | (757) 870-4006 | 5560 Foundation St., Williamsburg

- by appointment only -


Voted the Knot’s “Best of Wedding Photographers” | WeddingWire’s “Couples Choice” Award 2008 - 2020 | Virginia Living Magazine's "Top Wedding Vendor" 2015- 2020 | VA Small Newspaper Photographer of the Year | Wedding Photojournalist Assoc. Blue Medallion Award