Illustrations by Ashley E. Sanchez

I got married a few months ago, and I’m here to tell you that it’s not the pastel- and fondant-covered dream that bridal magazines would have you believe. This shit is stressful. From managing in-laws to dealing with vendors who chirpily upcharge you 200% for chargers (still not sure what those are), planning a wedding is taxing.

Of course, the wedding day itself was lovely. I drank champagne surreptitiously in a cab at nine in the morning (bridesmaids rule), ate cake (and drank more champagne) in bed at four in the morning, and in between, danced, cried, and celebrated my marriage to a man from the south who gamely wore four different Indian outfits and rode in on a white horse.

But there were mishaps. Oh boy were there mishaps. Here are the three biggest wedding-day disasters I experienced, and all the ways I dealt with them.

We Invited Too Many Guests, And Had Too Little Seats

Indian weddings come with their own customs and traditions (see horse). Along with enduring a two hour ceremony and being pelted with brown sugar midway through, I had to deal with an ever-expanding guest list including people I had never met. Someone literally RSVP-ed the day of the wedding. My mom also refused to combine her guest list with mine, so I had to cross-check two different spreadsheets in two different programs when writing the invitations, creating the seating chart, and sending out thank you cards.

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That also meant that during the cocktail hour, a frantic day-of coordinator whispered in my ear that one couple didn’t have a seat. Two days earlier, I would have cried. But this was my wedding day, and honestly, it didn’t matter. I took a deep breath, gulped down some gin and tonic, and told her to figure it out herself. And she did! She told them to take the spots of a no-show couple at Table 19, and I stuffed my face with cocktail samosas knowing everything would be fine. The lesson here is to delegate. There are troves of people — paid for or otherwise — who are willing to help out a bride. Use them!

We Forgot Almost Everything

During the weeks and days leading up to my wedding, I was frantic, adding unnecessary tasks to my to-do list and buying rainbow-colored paper straws on Oriental Trading like some kind of crazed art teacher. But on the day of the wedding itself, I was way more concerned about dancing to Otis Redding in never-been-worn-before shoes while 250 people watched. Anything that wasn’t directly related to a) getting married and b) drinking French 75s just wasn’t on my radar.

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Naturally, there were a few things that we just straight up forgot to do. While we had been diligent about delegating certain things to responsible friends, there were other tasks that required us and us alone. For example, it was 10:45pm and our day-of coordinator ran up to us telling us that we still needed to light up the 400 sparklers. And it wasn’t until two months following the wedding that I realized that I had never told our photographer to get some shots of the floral arrangement. I had spent hour and hours trying to find the perfect magenta-hued peony, and you would think I would have remembered to ask for a picture or two. Of course I didn’t. Weddings do weird things to your brain.

The solution here is to let go. Learn a few breathing techniques to keep in your back-pocket. My favorite is alternate nostril breathing, which basically just involves breathing out of each nostril, one at a time. Most of all, though, remember that your wedding day is supposed to be fun. And it will be fun, no matter how bad the calligraphy on your chalkboard sign looks. If you notice something off, just forget it, grab yourself a drink, and have fun. Odds are, no one’s even going to notice.

Or just avoid all of that by using Zola’s checklist. You’ll stay on top of everything leading up to the wedding, so that on the big day, you can enjoy yourself.

We Couldn’t Find The Checks

My mother had set up a pearl-colored foldable box, ostensibly for people to throw their checks in. Did that happen? Of course not. People were handing my husband and me checks left and right. My personal solution was to shove all of these envelopes in the bridal suite and forget about them. That worked great, except for the fact that two months after the wedding, my parents had to mail me an envelope full of cash that they had forgotten about.

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Avoid this by setting up some cash funds, and directed people to contribute to those instead of bringing checks (or worse, sending you some DIY nightmare).

Oh, and register! Register for way more than you think you’ll need. Register for a wide variety of things that you think you may not need, from museum tickets, to that knife block you’ve wanted for years. Do not take things off your registry because you decide, in a fit of stress-induced minimalism, that you have no need for more forks and knives. You can never have enough utensils. And even if you do, you can always return them. Case in point: We returned most of what we got in place of fewer, more expensive, higher-quality items. And Zola makes that process simple by letting you return things before they even ship, so you won’t spend your commute lugging home a 3,000 lb cookware set.

Readers — have you been married? Or are you currently planning a wedding? Share your own wedding-day disasters and the solutions you used in the comments below.

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One last piece of advice: The solution to all your wedding-day woes lies in Zola, the wedding company reinventing the wedding registry and the planning experience. Their free suite of planning tools includes free, gorgeous websites, a kickass registry, a customizable checklist, and a guest-list manager. It’s the all-encompassing solution for avoiding stress before, during, and after you say your I Dos.

Nandita Raghuram is the Content Director at Studio@Gizmodo. She tweets here.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Zola and Studio@Gizmodo.