Handling Event Crises

By:  Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events Group

Picture this nightmare scenario: The wedding reception is going smoothly, and you are about to slip out the door for a quick bite to eat. Then you hear them – the words no planner ever wants to hear coming from the other room: “Someone call a doctor!” You immediately make eye contact with the receptionist who places the call. In the meantime, you hear “never mind,” but you know the emergency responders are still coming. It’s the tallest building in the city – they have to show. Thankfully, they arrive, check out your victim, and give you the “OK” as they head off to address more serious issues.

You, on the other hand, are left wondering, “what if it had been a more serious issue?”

What if the grandmother of the groom had broken her wrist on the dance floor? What if a vendor didn’t show up, or the venue lost power? These real life situations have happened during my weddings! A planner has to be prepared for anything. So, what did I do? 

In the first scenario, a family member escorted the groom’s grandmother to the emergency room and I kept the guests calm and the event going. I now check the dance floor after it’s assembled at every event to make sure there are no seams sticking up, and that the floor is event. It is essential that you use your emergency situations as learning opportunities to help future events run more smoothly.

When a vendor doesn’t show up, you need to assess your resources. If a baker no-shows, for example, you could try to call in a favor, or find out if the venue has an in-house pastry chef who might be able to step in. You could also send your assistant to a local store to purchase a cutting cake and sheet cakes. You have to think creatively and understand what is, and what is not possible as a solution.

If any other vendor no-shows, you can again try to call around and see if one of their colleagues is able to step in. If not, what other acceptable substitutions could you try? For example, if the florist does not arrive and none of your florist buddies can help, can you go to the floral department of the nearest grocery store and try to replace what is missing? Could a local restaurant help with food and service if your caterer doesn’t come? Can you solve the problem by thinking out of the box?

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Even in the case of a power failure, you can keep people calm, find candles if you know that there is no gas leak, and keep everyone updated with the latest news.

In case you ever needed a good reason to network, the above scenarios give you all the reason you need. If you get into a wedding day predicament, it will be very helpful to know what your fellow local wedding professionals can do!

Ultimately, weathering crises as an event planner boils down to staying calm, cool and collected, and making sure that you are sharing that vibe with others. You are the planner – the leader – and everyone else will turn to you. If you are calm, they will be calm, and that is really all that matters.

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