What to do if… the best man’s speech falls flat, family tensions simmer, or you drop cherry red lipstick onto your wedding dress?
Emma Deeley has hosted hundreds of weddings at Tythe, seen every impending problem and helped avert them all. This is her best advice for a drama-free big day.
‘The first thing to remember,’ says Emma, ‘Is that most feared problems never actually happen. Worrying about them is natural in the run-up to the big day, but they are an absolute rarity. In twenty years, I have never seen a bride fall on the aisle or a best man forget the rings, so strike those from your worry list immediately.’
The fear: A guest has one too many
To avoid: Arrival drinks are a great way to loosen everyone up, but don’t go too strong too soon. Think jugs of fruity Pimm’s on the Tythe lawns and save the Espresso Martinis for after dinner. If you have cocktails, make sure the canapés are circulating too – and it helps to make them substantial. It’s also advisable not to have too much drinking time between your ceremony and the main meal – an hour to an hour and a half is plenty. If you know who is most likely to go overboard, try to occupy them with a job to limit their drinking time and have a go-to person you can alert if things look like they could get out of hand.
To fix: Have a nominated person who can deal with trouble quickly and discreetly. Usher them from the main party area to somewhere more private. Call a taxi if needed. Walk it off around the grounds – the beauty of Tythe is the huge amount of space, after all!
The fear: The best man’s speech falls flat
To avoid: Think about your choice beforehand. Only some people are naturally suited to the task. If someone is reluctant, don’t force them. Are they used to public speaking? Even if they are, keep it short, a maximum of ten minutes. No one ever leaves a wedding saying they wished the speeches were longer. Brief the people giving speeches before and after him so they can introduce and thank him in a way that garners a good feeling from the crowd.
To fix: If all doesn’t go to plan, move on quickly in the moment, but take them to one side afterwards and thank them so they don’t spend the rest of the day dwelling on it. Have a couple of other well-placed people do the same. Wedding guests can have very short memories; if they’re thinking anything, it’s probably, thank goodness it wasn’t me!
Fear: You’ve forgotten your wedding shoes
To avoid: Have a wedding pack tick list that you run through before you leave home. If there is time, send someone back. That’s what your massive wedding entourage is for! If you stay the night before the wedding, you have even more time for this.
To fix: Most female wedding guests will pack more than one pair of heels; canvas among the more fashionable for an appropriate pair to borrow. Another massive advantage of marrying at Tythe is that you are opposite Bicester Village, where there are more than 150 fashion boutiques a ten-minute walk away!
The fear: Your photographer is a no show
To avoid: Before hiring them, check their contingency plan should they be sick or injured on the day, while remembering this is highly unlikely. How many assistants do they typically bring? And could they shoot the entire day in an emergency? Do they have a roster of emergency stand-ins should it become necessary? Can one of them be on call for your wedding date?
To fix: Speak to your venue or your team at Tythe as soon as you know. Venues will usually have many trusted suppliers they can call on if needed. If you have a videographer, ask if they can take stills from film footage. If appropriate, push for your original photographer to attend at least some of the celebrations or find someone else for you who can. If all else fails, find the guest with the latest smartphone and charge them with recording as much of the day as possible.
The fear: You spill something on the dress
To avoid: Ensure you have eaten and had something to drink before you put the dress on. And leave dressing until the last possible moment, after final make-up touch-ups. Have portrait photographs done immediately afterwards so there is a record of the perfect look. Once you’re wearing it, it’s clear drinks only. Keep excitable children at arm’s length and banish pets at this point. Know the nearest dry cleaners in advance in case there is time to seek professional help. Tythe can help with this.
To fix: Make sure you know the fabric you’re trying to clean in advance, and research it before the wedding weekend – silk and chiffon will need a different treatment to satin, for example. In all cases, ensure the cloth you use is white to avoid colour transferal. Dab, don’t rub to avoid making the stain bigger. A highly diluted clear dishwasher fluid with water is usually best on make-up and wine stains. If all else fails, use your flowers strategically. If the stain is central, you can get up the aisle, at least without it being seen.
The fear: Family tensions start to simmer
To avoid: If there are deep-rooted problems, let those you are concerned about meet before the wedding to clear the air. Be considerate with the seating plan. There’s no need to thrust them together if they don’t usually socialise. Place peacekeepers strategically on their respective tables. Consider important roles for them so everyone feels equally included. If they cannot be in the same room together, consider having them attend different parts of the day or weekend.
To fix: Have a nominated person explain to them that your one wish for today was that there wouldn’t be any unpleasant family politics – and if they continue, they are in danger of placing a cloud over your day. Have a cooling-off space where one or both can return away from the crowd. Assign siblings or close friends to keep the drama as undercover as possible. Good news: Tythe’s setting offers plenty of space (our large farmhouse has bedrooms at opposite ends of the property to give everyone the room they need).
The fear: You’ve forgotten the first dance
To avoid: Think about how choreographed you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be. And you don’t have to do it solo, either. You can have 3-4 other couples join you for it. Don’t be overly ambitious with lifts and dips. Save that for the last dance of the night. Consider a track that’s more fun than serious to lessen the pressure.
To fix: No one knows what the routine was supposed to be, so now’s the time to freestyle it. All your guests are relaxed with all the formalities out of the way. They want you to have fun. This is a great time to learn to laugh at yourself. If you are going it alone, signal to a nominated person that they need to get other people onto the dance floor. Ask the photographer to omit these images from the edit!