Any mishap at a wedding or special event, from my perspective, is a disaster. I want everything to be perfect. But, over 15 years, of course not everything has been. I’ve put together a list of my top (bottom?) ten wedding and event disasters. Looking back, I can laugh at most of them. Not all of these are poop-level disastrous. Some are merely close calls (I doubt I would be in business if I had ten complete failures – flower work isn’t that hard). I’m to blame for some. Some are just bad luck. One was deadly serious. But none of these are what we want on a flower delivery day.

1. Free Solo Losers

Sugarloaf Mountain is a beautiful spot for a wedding. So beautiful, my husband and I couldn’t resist a scenic walking trail beckoning us after we set up the chuppah for a fall wedding near the summit. We had a couple of hours until we needed to take the chuppah back down, so we decided to get some steps in. Now, you need to understand the ceremony site was also the location for the dance floor installation. We needed to get our stuff out in short order after the ceremony so the catering crew and DJ could set up. No biggie, unless you’re ignorant city-folk wearing sandals exploring a mountain.

Our nature walk turned out to be more of an expert hike/rock climb on which, somehow, we got turned around. It felt like we had hiked in a big circle. At one point we could see the venue at a (long) distance below us, but had no idea how to get back to it. We had no map and no cell service. I was trying not to panic, but every time I looked at my watch the deadline was closer and our destination farther.

We made a drastic decision and went off-trail. We knew the direction of the venue, so -fastest way between two points, right? Well, without appropriate gear (or really any gear) I wiped out. My Chacos and skirt provided no protection. My entire leg was brush-burned and bleeding. I didn’t even care. I just needed to get back to the venue, disassemble the chuppah, pack up and get home.

Well, we did make it back on time. I held back the tears until we pulled away in the van. There was some laughing too. Minor disaster.

2. What the Tweet!

We’ve all seen wedding announcements on Twitter. Couples like to share their news with the Twitterverse but don’t want to be taken out of the moment to pull out their phones. The solution: pre-schedule your tweet to publish when you say I Do! 

Great idea, unless you don’t realize your scheduler is on PST when your wedding is in EST (three hours later). So when my phone on the table next me flashed a “We did it! We’re married!” notification from the bride whose bouquet I was blithely wrapping with ribbon while humming along to some Brandi Carlile in my studio, I left my body. Complete dissociation. How could she be married? Her bouquet is right here in my hand. Her centerpieces are in my cooler. I was still standing, but I didn’t feel anything. I could hear a muffled “I’ve been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends.” There was a reorientation of sorts. I told myself everything was ok, but I didn’t believe it.

I put the bouquet back into the vase. I don’t think I was breathing. I floated over to the desk where the contract was printed. I picked it up and moved it closer, then farther from my eyes – zoom in, zoom out. No focus. Full pupil dilation. I put the contract back down, held the desk for stability and just scanned for numbers formatted like time. Oxygen must have returned to my brain because the first cogent thought formed since the tweet: If I had missed the wedding, there would have been a call.

I found the key data on the contract: Ceremony time: 5:00PM. I looked at the clock on the wall: 2:02PM. Ok. But, maybe I got the contract wrong. But, everybody signed it. Nobody called. I needed to call somebody. I dialed the planner – straight to voicemail. I dialed emergency contact list number one – straight to voicemail. I dialed emergency contact list number two – straight to voicemail. What to do? Finally, a text. It’s the planner. “Sorry vendors who saw the tweet. Scheduling error. Not married yet. Ha Ha.”

Hilarious. We now have an automated defibrillator in the shop. Just in case.

3. Ice, Ice, Bouquet

There is an annual marathon that completely encircles my studio each fall. I learned the hard way that street closures and detours make wedding deliveries during the race nearly impossible (see disaster 6. Marina’s Marathon Walk below). I don’t want to miss out on any wedding income at the height of wedding season, so we work around the marathon. One year, a wedding couple picked up their bouquet and boutonniere on Friday night for photos the next day during the marathon. We delivered the centerpieces for the reception to the venue at 5pm after the race.

The couple was outside taking pictures when we arrived. The photographer called me over with a concerned look and said the bouquet could use some “freshening up.” I looked at the flowers. I was dumbfounded. What had happened? I needed both hands to keep what had been the bridal bouquet constituted. The stems looked, and felt, and smelled, like the forgotten, left over, far past-their-prime flowers that never sold in the back of my cooler. They were limp and gross. My beautiful bouquet had become a pulpy mess in less than a day. But, how?

My husband, who was assisting with the delivery, shook me from my stupor of incredulity by quietly speaking in my ear: “Fix this in the van.” Fix this? I don’t know how to Benjamin Button a bridal bouquet! I brought the sadness wrapped in ribbon back to the van and took it apart. It was cold. There was ice around the stems. Ice? The couple had been at the venue for a while. It was October. The air wasn’t cold. The only thing I could surmise was that the bouquet had been inexplicably frozen solid and was now partially thawed. I took more of the bouquet apart, kept what little was salvageable, pilfered a few stems from each of the centerpieces and remade the bouquet the best I could. When I returned to the couple, I noticed the groom’s boutonniere had also been subjected to arctic temperatures. He said he liked how it looked, that it matched his tie and didn’t need it changed. Alrighty.

As tactfully as I could, while also attempting to indemnify myself, I mentioned the ice to the bride. She told me she had the hotel staff store the bouquet and boutonniere in their freezer overnight to preserve it for the wedding.

Good looking out. Cut flowers need to be stored cold, just not that cold!

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