Dealing with Disaster

Dealing with Disaster

With a never-ending checklist that includes picking the perfect dress, finding the perfect venue, designing the perfect invitations, creating the perfect menu, and determining the perfect seating arrangements, you might wind up buried underneath a pile of ‘perfects’ without feeling perfect. Then add in extra worry about anything else you might have missed during planning, the heavyweight of others’ opinions, and anxiety about something going wrong, you might even find yourself asking, “If this is the wedding of my dreams, why doesn’t it feel like a nightmare?”

Don’t let yourself get to that point before deciding to steer away from a spiral of despair, take it from an expert in the industry who has been there, done that, and still goes back.

As a veteran in the event planning business, Amber Sironen-Massey knows all about avoiding– and occasionally working with– disaster. Her job as a director of a bed and breakfast as well as being the head of her own business, Epic Elopements, has supplied her with many experiences of the joy and the anxiety that big events like weddings come with.

Her first wedding through Epic Elopements serves as a memorable one. Though, the fact that it didn’t go the way she thought it would, was a good thing. “I remember during the first wedding I did through my personal business, I was terrified it was going to rain. Of course, we had a plan B, but the venue had decided that they didn’t like plan B—a week before the wedding. Now, we had talked about plan B and I didn’t have a plan C because plan B was, like, a brick-and-mortar space, so we had to get a tent and stuff. Anyway, it kept saying it was going to rain, and I was in panic mode.”
“I remember buying every umbrella I could possibly find,” she laughs. “It actually ended up being the hottest day of the year, and we baked… all… day.”

“But you know, I’ve worked in hospitality for a long time and there’s always a chance that some things are not going to go right—and you always have to have that in the back of your head. But you learn from those experiences, you learn how to pivot. I’ve been doing this for so long, I don’t even think twice about it anymore.”

She also recalls another memorable event that involved chairs, flowers, and the unforgiving force of gravity.

“We had a wedding that had close to 2,000 dollars’ worth of flowers. I have a trailer that I take with me [to each venue] and I took chairs and everything with me. Everything was tied down, and we set the flowers on the floor of the trailer, thinking it was fine. Well, when we opened up the trailer, all the chairs had fallen on top of the flowers.”

“And my aunt, who works with me as an amazing stylist, still tells me she will never forget how my face looked and how I turned to her and said, ‘It’ll be okay.’ Because, what do you do, you know? You’re on sight, two to three and a half hours out, and you have all this set up to do… thankfully, we made it work by rearranging the flowers and styling them differently.”

“The extra flowers we purchased beforehand, as we usually do, definitely came in handy. It is always better to have too many than not enough—especially in this case. But, yeah, that was a terrifying moment.”

Despite her experiences, Sironen-Massey doesn’t see disaster as something to be scared of, just something to be prepared for.

“I don’t necessarily see stress as a bad thing. I came from a background where your job was stressful and when you were stressed, you were busy. So, I don’t necessarily correlate them as bad things. If I’m the bride though, I don’t want to be stressed out on my wedding day,” she laughs.

“Because as soon as you panic, everybody else panics. And realistically, panicking doesn’t get you anywhere, right? It’s like, I take a moment to process, and then I think about how I can fix this as fast as possible, so it doesn’t interfere with anything else. And sometimes, you have to forgo the plan you had and go with another one, but that’s okay.”

Her advice for brides dealing with stress is pretty simple. “Ask for help, be clear about what you’re asking for so you get what you want, and trust your vendors because if you can’t then what are you paying for?”

While Sironen-Massey continues to be a level-headed coordinator who doesn’t shy away from the impossible and instead uses her event-planning skills to fix even the worst of situations, others may not have as easy a time adapting and overcoming such hurdles.

So, how do we deal with the psychological side of perfectionism and its high expectations? For those of us whose anxieties may be a bit deeper-rooted, we asked a professional for their input.

Texas-based Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Brittany Saldivar explains that there is a difference between perfectionism and high standards, though both can be unpleasant to live up to.

“Perfectionism involves being highly critical of oneself and being unaccepting of the idea of error along the way. Having high standards or striving for success is not always the same as striving for perfection. When we’re striving to meet extremely high standards and leave no room for error, we can put an immense amount of pressure and stress on ourselves.”

Saldivar also warns that a mind full of worry and a heart full of expectations can turn into a habit that may be harder to shake off later.

“If we’re aiming for flawlessness and fearing anything but, anxiety can come into play in the form of persistent or unrealistic worry. When we’re looking at the world through a lens of perfectionism, we’re more likely to be focused on the idea of failure as we’re constantly trying to avoid it. As you can imagine, this can be an unhealthy mindset to adopt and can lead to experiences that are less fulfilling or disappointing. This would be due to having no grace for life’s common and sometimes inevitable mishaps.”

Her solution is a change in mindset. “Challenge your thought process to shift your mindset– make room to focus on the positive and focus on meaning rather than flaws. Set more realistic and reasonable goals. Being successful and accomplishing what we set out to do can be a great feeling. Set yourself up for success.”

As weddings are a day of joy, they also serve to remind us of the pleasures in life and how we only live once. In regard to enjoying those fleeting moments, Saldivar urges us not only to remember our humanity but to embrace it, mishaps and all.

“Allow yourself the grace to make mistakes, this is part of being human.”

Author: Emily Saldivar