By Kevin Dennis, Fantasy Sound Event Services
Nobody likes to talk about event crises – they’re as unwelcome as an excessively boisterous great-aunt taking up the dance floor.
Just like any great-aunt though, it’s important to discuss these matters in order to ensure that they get handled quickly and efficiently if anything were to happen.
If an emergency were to happen during a wedding, the only way to properly control the situation is to have a plan set in place beforehand.
Tip #1 – Begin crisis aversion before the event.
Communication is key when it comes to planning for event crises – without a team mentality, an event can derail without any way to pick it back up. If there is strong communication between all of the vendors, however, it’s much easier for a crisis to be resolved or even avoided.
Building this type of rapport doesn’t start on the morning of the event. For a wedding to truly go off without a hitch, it’s important for all of the professionals to be in contact with each other throughout the planning process.
For example, one of the biggest risks when planning a wedding is the uncertainty of the day’s weather. A rain plan is essential to any outdoor wedding, but it will only run seamlessly if everyone is on the same page.
That means the planner needs to coordinate with the caterer, the DJ, the lighting specialist, the officiant, the florist, and everyone else on the event team. Otherwise, deliveries will be left in the rain, people will be confused as to where to go, and the wedding will come across as disorganized – all bad things!
Tip #2 – Have an old-fashioned phone tree.
The number one tip for smooth communication is to develop an old-fashioned phone tree that lists all of the members of the wedding team and their day-of contact number. They won’t be in the office that day, so it’s imperative that everyone shares the best number to reach them on the go.
On that note, you’ll also need to grab a day-of contact for the couple if they don’t have a planner. This could be a family member, a close friend, or anyone they designate to make decision since they’ll surely be busy with preparations.
Tip #3 – Don’t tell the couple until you have a solution.
When something doesn’t go as planned, the ultimate goal is to have a solution in place before alerting the couple to the issue. If you can hold off until you come up with an answer, it will go much smoother when you let the couple know that you already have a plan to resolve the problem.
From there, it’s up to you and the rest of the team to get everything into place – try to avoid bothering the couple unless it’s with good news. They have enough to worry about to begin with!
With that said, have a plan to keep the couple updated as you make progress and once everything gets worked out.
Tip #4 – Consider sharing the bad news of cancellation for the couple.
As for when an event is cancelled—the most dreaded of crises—it’s generally up to the clients to reach out to all of their vendors to tell them the bad news, but it can be a nice practice for the planner to reach out with a heads up. Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news, but transparency is always the answer.
When it comes down to it, crisis management comes down to two things: planning and communication.
These are integral parts to an event’s preparation – with some diligent planning and effective communication, your wedding day team can bounce back from virtually anything.
How do you plan for a wedding crisis?
Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.