Sunday 20 January 2019

So, guess what happened on our wedding day. . .

From collapsing bridges to missing chefs, anything can go wrong on the big day, writes Deirdre Reynolds

Sealed with a kiss: Michael and Yvonne Healy as they arrive at their wedding reception
Sealed with a kiss: Michael and Yvonne Healy as they arrive at their wedding reception

Lost in translation: This couple was in for a shock when they renewed their vows in the Maldives last yearSealed with a kiss: Michael and Yvonne Healy as they arrive at their wedding reception, and inset, the bridge that collapsed as they were having photos taken. Photo by Michael McSweeney/ Provision

Kate Middleton and other blushing brides-to-be look away now -- because sometimes even the best-laid plans won't stop a dream day turning into the stuff of nightmares. As newlyweds Michael Hickey and Yvonne O'Leary know only too well.

Last Saturday, instead of seeing their dream wedding plans go swimmingly, the happy couple ended up going swimming, after the picturesque wooden bridge they were posing on with their wedding party for photos collapsed, sending them into the muddy stream below.

Happily, thanks to the generosity of a local boutique in Midleton, Co Cork, the day was saved with the bride and co decked out in new togs, but suffice to say the event put something of a dampener on proceedings.

However, Yvonne's not the first bride to find herself taking the plunge in more ways than one on her big day.

A YouTube clip of an unfortunate bride falling foul of her clumsy best man and ending up in a lake became one of the biggest internet sensations of 2009.

The 44-second YouTube clip of Chloe and Keith's wedding showed not just the bride but also their unlucky minister ending up in the water after the best man takes a tumble, and scored 30 million hits before being revealed to have been a set-up -- much to the relief of brides around the globe.

"I've never had a bride end up in the water, thank goodness," says top wedding designer Peter Kelly from Weddings By Franc. "I think taking wedding parties off the beaten track for photos means there's always an element of danger that something could happen and also it takes them away from the reception that they could be enjoying."

During his years in the wedding business Peter, who is also a trained chef, has found himself having to cook, re-wire and reorganise travel arrangements as couples' nuptials hit unforeseen hiccups.

"At virtually every event there's going to be something you can't predict and as wedding planner you have to leap into problem-solving mode," he explains.

"There was a car crash on the road to one wedding. No one in the party was hurt but the car carrying the cakes had to swerve off-road. It was an American wedding and there were three cakes -- and every one of them was damaged. I had to set up an accident room in the hotel to try and repair them.

"Another time I had to roll up my sleeves and make dessert for 250 guests after a pastry chef took ill. I've had to rewire a sound system when the power went out and deal with 160 people trying to get into Ireland when the Icelandic volcano was erupting," he laughs.

"There's always going to be something but it's how you deal with it that counts."

Sometimes just getting to the church can be a problem. Take bride-to-be Maria Tierney and her husband Ollie Finnegan who last year had to draft in a four-wheel drive and a six-wheel golf course vehicle to make it 12km from Waterford city to Faithlegg House Hotel in -12C and thick snow for their winter wedding last December.

"There are some things you can't control, like the weather," says wedding planner Rosemarie Meleady from Theweddingplanner.ie.

"Childbirth is another one. My photographer's wife decided to go into labour 14 weeks premature on my wedding day and he didn't have a replacement so I have two snap shots of my wedding.

"Also, somehow all the cars took off to the ceremony and forgot me, the bride, and I had to travel with my old aunt who wouldn't go above 30mph. That was 14 years ago and the reason why I became a wedding planner -- to stop such disasters happening to others."

If cars can cause transport issues then horses are even less reliable.

"I had a bride who was being taken from her hotel by car and then transferred a few miles to church by horse and carriage," remembers wedding planner Judy Mullins from 'I do' Weddings Ireland.

"The first problem was that there were 12 bridesmaids and at the point where the horse and carriage was waiting for the bride, all 12 bridesmaids decided they needed the toilet, so I had to knock on some poor woman's door and beg her to let us in.

"I went on to the church with the relieved bridesmaids and waited for the sound of hooves bringing the bride, her mum and her brother -- but nothing happened. Five minutes later a car skidded out and the brother, in a deep southern drawl, told me 'The goddam horse refused to move'. He was a marine and not exactly small so the poor horse had obviously decided not to carry three people. I still don't know how I kept a straight face."

Wedding forums are rife with hair-raising tales of disaster certain to send any bride-to-be into a cold sweat. Bridesmaids' dresses catching alight on candle-lined pews, broken-down cars, food allergies and ripped gowns are all there.

Ciara Crossan runs a blog for Irish brides and grooms at weddingdates.ie, and says wedding mishaps are a perennial favourite.

"A lot of the stories I hear or post on the blog would be funny or disaster-type stories from around the world.

"They range from small problems with transport to more serious issues like the couple who were married in the Maldives recently and found out that the translation of their service was not what they would have hoped for."

She adds: "I think it's a subject most people can identify with, everyone has a story. I have a friend who was bridesmaid at her uncle's wedding and just when the priest said 'I now pronounce you man and wife' my friend fainted, right at the couple's feet. They had to continue with the service while she was laid out in the back and then taken to hospital."

Even celebrities aren't immune to the odd bit of wedding day drama. Hilary Duff chipped her tooth on the morning of her wedding to NHL star Mike Comrie after biting into a bagel.

"My tooth fell out in my hand," said Duff. "I burst into tears, then I started laughing at myself and then I really burst into tears."

Thankfully disaster was averted by her wedding planner, who secured an emergency dental appointment and still managed to get her to the service in time.

"There's always going to be something that you can't predict," says Peter. "But if you're looking for perfection then that raises the amount of things you're trying to control and increases the potential for something to go wrong."

He adds: "My advice to brides and grooms is to enjoy the day. The couple who fell into the stream in Cork had the best attitude because they didn't let it ruin their wedding.

"All you can do is plan before hand and then let what happens on the day happen. If someone falls or the food comes out wrong, then it's happened -- and getting stressed about it isn't going to help.

"Besides, anything that's over-planned is laborious and boring, sometimes the moments of magic are in the things you can't predict or schedule."

Irish Independent

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