A Survivalist Guide to Weddings

How to handle a variety of worst-case scenarios you might encounter while planning – and hosting – your wedding

Reception Sticker Shock

Typically, the first hurdle you must clear during your wedding planning decathlon is booking a venue. Because vendors often avoid sharing all the details of their pricing plans until after couples have toured their spaces (or neglect to include service fees and taxes in their initial quotes), it’s easy to find yourself obsessed with a space that stretches your budget. To avoid this problem entirely, you can ask upfront for an out-the-door cost breakdown – and a detailed list of exactly what is included in that breakdown. But even if you’ve forgotten to do that, you still have options. See if the venue offers discounts for off-season or weekday weddings. “Choosing a Thursday could allow you to extend festivities into the weekend, as many guests will stick around for a few days,” says Megan Potter, owner of Dare to Dream Weddings. An added bonus? Other vendors, like caterers and photographers, may also charge less for those dates.

Illustration by Lauren Marvell

An AWOL Officiant

“Plan for the worst but hope for the best” is a good mantra to have for the big day to manage potential disappointments. That also ensures you’re prepared for whatever might transpire on your dream day. Make sure to ask your officiant to have a backup. Judge Derek Mosley performs over 100 weddings a year, scheduled up to 12 months in advance, so he always has a stand-in should he become ill so that the marriage will still be legal. “If you fail to have a backup or prefer someone nonordained to perform the ceremony with your guests, your marriage still can be legal if you have a judg.e perform the ceremony within 30 days of getting your marriage license,” explains Mosley.




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Pandemic Pitfalls

Many scientists and government officials now expect the era of social distancing to stretch well into the spring or summer. So if you’re planning a 2021 wedding, be sure to ask all of your vendors about any pandemic-related policies they may have in place before booking them, in case you need to change your plans. And note that outdoor spaces may be safer for the time being than indoor ones. Though Tiara Gamez, owner of Events to a T, says that “it’s important to discuss the Plan B options prior to officially securing an outdoor venue. … That way, you know what that scenario looks like and can be happy with it.”

Illustration by Lauren Marvell

Guest List Guilt Trips

The guest list might be the most delicate – or heated – conversation you will have during the planning process. Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for a large part of the wedding. But what are you to do if the one footing the bill doesn’t have a big family and the groom’s father has 10 brothers? Consider allowing a fixed number of invites for everyone who’s involved in the planning process or alter your celebration to accommodate your budget by cutting back on the hosted bar. “The key to keeping everyone calm and on the same page is to communicate your expectations early,” Potter says. “Don’t wait until the week before you mail your save-the-dates to tell people that they have to condense their list.”

Illustration by Lauren Marvell

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s Weddings issue.

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Jenna Kashou is a writer, storyteller and journalist specializing in lifestyle and culture feature writing for print and web. She is a frequent contributor to Milwaukee Magazine, MKE Lifestyle Magazine, The Business Journal and more. She was chosen as the fifth writer in residence at the historic Pfister Hotel where she wrote about and photographed guests and events. A Milwaukee native, Kashou has lived abroad and visited far-flung locales like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. She has always had an enormous sense of pride for her hometown and spreads this Milwaukee love everywhere she goes.