When it all goes wrong …

Oct 3, 2016

Things do go wrong. Even at weddings. Even when you’ve done everything possible It’s just the nature of the thing. Everything may not run smoothly. S**t happens, as they say.


So what can you do about it?

When something goes wrong (through negligence), you may want to sue. I’m a civil celebrant, and not competent to comment in this area, so I’ll leave it to you to consult an expert, if you can’t resolve your issue amicably.

Of course, prevention is the best cure. If you start your planning early, and are diligent in your choices, you reduce the chances of catastrophe considerably.

The areas most likely to cause problems are:

Dresses; videos; photos; venues; flowers; rings; cars; make-up; catering; suits.


When choosing your suppliers, it pays to go by recommendation. However, this is not always available. You can look and see if there are complaints against your supplier. Search their name plus “complaints” on Google and see what comes up. It might be instructive.

Their fan page on Facebook may also tell you something. As may Twitter.

Otherwise, a meeting may help to reassure you (sometimes gut feelings are very helpful). Ask plenty of questions and watch out for any answers that don’t feel right.


When dealing with your suppliers, make sure you ask them:

  • if they can guarantee delivery of your product on the desired day and time (or in a reasonable time-frame)
  • if they can guarantee the product will be fit for its agreed use
  • what back-up arrangements are there (and what are their terms for refunds?)
  • what their full contact numbers are (e-mail, phone and emergency phone), especially for the big day
  • what the payment and delivery terms actually are

It is wise to check terms and conditions before you pay the deposit. Go through these carefully (or get a well-disposed and intelligent friend to do this for you!).

Your Civil Celebrant

Although many UK Civil Celebrants may belong to an association that regulates their conduct (such as the Association of Independent Celebrants or the UK Society of Celebrants), there is currently no obligation to do so. In exceptional cases, they may not even have been trained (properly).

If you can’t get first-hand referrals or locate independent reviews, have a look at their website. There may be video evidence of their competence. Social media may help you get a picture of them. A face-to-face chat, a Skype conversation or, failing that, a phone call is a wonderful idea, because you will then get a feel for their personality. You need to trust your celebrant and have the sense that you will get on well with them.

As a civil celebrant, I believe in working professionally throughout (and with humour, when appropriate!).

Once I receive a deposit (usually £100) and your signed booking form, your date is secure and I start work shortly after. I always consult you, so that your needs are understood and met.

I aim to respond in reasonable time to enquiries etc., deal appropriately with any complaints – which I hope will never happen! – and work efficiently and effectively so that any ceremony I prepare meets (or exceeds) my client’s expectations. I aim to arrive on the day an hour before the scheduled start time, and promise to conduct any ceremony to the best of my ability.

Your side of the bargain

You have responsibilities to the supplier too.

  • Make sure you pay your deposit and/or balance on time
  • Respond to e-mails/calls in a timely manner
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute to make demands or changes
  • You have a share in ensuring that your relationship is a civil and pleasant one

If you are careful and start planning early, you can significantly reduce the risk of things going wrong – perhaps, not quite to zero, but very low. And you can also be pleased with yourself that you have done all that you can.

Good luck with it all!