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Contingency Plans - How to handle unforeseen events during a ceremony

running late for your wedding

So, there you are smack bang in the middle of a ceremony and something goes wrong….what do you do.  I'm sure that there are many, many more, but let’s look at just a few things that could go wrong.

Today's Blog is written by Celebrant Susie Roberts from Grafton

1. A mistake on the legal paperwork. 

What do you do if there is a mistake on the Form 15 Marriage Certificate?

As this actual Marriage Certificate is the only document that can’t have lines drawn through and then
re-entered, many celebrants carry a spare Form 15 Certificate in their bag, just in case of this very scenario. 

If the mistake is made on any of the other paperwork, then a line can be drawn through, and initialled. 

2. Your PA fails. 

We all dread this nightmare happening. And most of us will have had PA situations. 

So, check 

  • that it is turned on properly, 
  • check that the right channels have been selected, 
  • check the Bluetooth connection, 
  • check with your plug-in microphone,
  • if there is a musician playing, see if you can borrow their mike
  • If all else fails………take a huge drink of water to lubricate your throat, and put on your BIG VOICE, so everyone can hear. 

3. Your car breaks down.

So, there you are, almost at the wedding and your car breaks down. 

  • Ring the groom and see if he can send someone to collect you and your equipment.
  • Ring a taxi/Uber if that is easier and get them to pick you up. 
  • Ring your spouse/friend and ask them to come and help. 
  • Let the wedding party know of your ETA.

4. Late special guests.

Mother of the bride hasn’t arrived? Or the rellies from Brisbane are caught in traffic…..do you wait for them? 

Well, that is a discussion you need to have with your couple, based on their bookings with photographers and caterers, and your commitments for the rest of the day. 

5. One of the wedding party bolts.

The bride suddenly doesn’t want to get married? The groom is having second thoughts? 

As the celebrant, we have a legal obligation to ensure that both parties want this marriage to go ahead, so we need to talk with each of them separately, to ascertain if it is just pre wedding jitters, or something more serious. 

If you are satisfied that it is just jitters, then perhaps offering a different way for the wedding to go ahead, might be the solution……..like the couple not facing the guests, or them sitting down, or even getting married with just their witnesses.

If it is more serious, then you will need to make the call as to if the wedding can go ahead. 

6. One of the bridal party is under the influence. 

This is my nightmare one! 

As we are not authorised to marry anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we need to make sure that we talk with our couples before the wedding, advising them that if either of them are under the influence, then the wedding will not go ahead…….you can offer to do a commitment ceremony, and a legals only wedding when they are sober. 

7. The heavens open.

There you all are……..out in the open, and a sudden rainstorm hits. What do you do? 

You need 

  • to get your PA covered and out of the rain ASAP. 
  • to stash your legal paperwork into you bag and keep it dry. 
  • to get the couple to shelter. 
  • and then compose yourself and your couple, and finish the ceremony. 

8. Kids.

Ahh, the kids……..

  • the kids that scream for their parents and insist of being picked up. 
  • the siblings who are being bribed with lollies and then have an all-out lolly brawl for all to see.
  • the toddler who wedges his face in his mother’s bottom, before planting himself in a large pot plant.
  • the sulky teenagers who don’t want their parent to marry (that was my daughter!)
  • the kids who NEED to help with the rings.
  • the kids who just want to play.

My advice…….just go with the flow. If the couple wanted children at their wedding, then they will have seen all of this behaviour before, so, relax and work the kids into the ceremony. 

Then there is the medical stuff. 

9. Heat stroke

Heat stroke is a very serious condition and it is important to call for medical assistance. In the meantime, get the person to a shady place, or into air conditioning if possible, cool them off with some damp cloths and make sure they are rehydrated. Restrict sugary or alcoholic drinks, and make sure the fluid isn’t too cold. 

Speak with your couple about ensuring there is shade for their guests. 


If someone is feeling faint, then sit them on chair in the shade and place their head between their knees. 

If they do faint, and they haven’t sustained any injuries in the fall, lie them on their back, elevate their legs above heart level, and loosen all ties and belts etc. Do not let them stand up too quickly. 

If they are still unwell, call for medical assistance. 


Vomiting can be a sign of several different illnesses or conditions. The person will need a seat, some fresh water, a damp cloth and if it persists, then seek medical help. Ensure that they avoid food. 


Speak with your couple before the wedding and really ensure they are on board for a water station for their guests if it is a summer wedding. 

Always make sure that you carry a freshly charged water bottle for yourself, and drink before the ceremony starts. 

There will be many other situations that need our immediate attention. We would love to hear from you as to sticky moments you have been in. 



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Sunday, 25 February 2024

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