Not to give you more wedding nightmares, but the truth is that sometimes you’ll hire someone and they won’t hold up their end of the deal. It could happen for lots of reasons and to any kind of vendor — maybe they had a family emergency, got very sick, or the business went bankrupt. Or, maybe they just weren’t trustworthy to begin with and wanted to take your money and run.Photo via HalfPoint/ BigStock.

Before we tell you how to deal if this happens, we want to talk you through how to avoid this at all costs. First, ask every vendor you hire what would happen if they can’t be there on your big day. Most businesses should have an assistant or another team member who can step up to the plate. Second, if you’re able to hire a planner, it’ll save you lots of stress. The planner will have connections in the wedding biz and can help you find a replacement if need be. And finally, consider buying insurance to protect yourself.

Without further ado, here’s your month-by-month guide:

1. If you have 6+ months till your wedding… Don’t freak. You have tons of time. People plan entire weddings in just six months all the time. Your game plan is to go back to page one. Start your vendor search again — just turbo-charge it so you can hire someone ASAP. Who was your second-favorite cake baker? The next-in-line DJ? Start with those businesses, and if they’re not available, ask for their recommendations. Just remember, though, that you might have to be a little less picky this time — especially if you’re getting married in prime wedding season.

2. If you have 3-4 months till your wedding… You can try to go back to page one, but between researching, meeting, and getting organized with a new vendor, you’re losing a lot of time. Instead, expedite the process by asking your other wedding vendors for ideas and recommendations. You never know if your caterer has a favorite florist who can jump in and help at your wedding! Wedding vendors are a tight-knit industry, and they’re always willing to help out each other — and you!

3. If you have 1-2 months till your wedding… You might not be able to find a professional who’s available on your big day, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the service entirely. Consider hiring someone who’s not a professional. You could hire a freelance photojournalist to take your photos, for example. A really good place to start is at colleges and universities. Culinary school students can whip up your cake and music students can play during your ceremony or cocktail hour. Even though they’re new to the biz, chances are they will work extra hard to help you out. The quality might be a little less than a professional’s work, but, hey, it’s better than nothing.

4. If you have less than one month till your wedding… It’s time to use your own connections to find someone to step up. You might have a friend who’s secretly really great at doing makeup — she can do the bride and bridesmaids’ makeup. Can’t think of anyone in your circle that can help? Ask friends and family about their connections — someone’s got to know someone who can step in as a videographer. Try to make the best of the situation by making it fun. If your florist bails, take your nearest and dearest to a farmers market to gather fresh blooms and arrange them into bouquets.

5. If it’s your wedding day… Hopefully, you won’t even know something happened. Ideally, on your “I dos,” there will be a point person (whether it’s a day-of coordinator or a parent) to corral all the vendors.

Your first step is to turn to your current vendors for support. Ask if they know anyone who’s available to help today. You never know!

But, if you do hear of some bad news, it’s time to get creative. Ask your wedding party and family and friends to pull together to find a solution. The photographer bailed? Have them run to the nearest convenience store and buy a bunch of disposable cameras. The cake didn’t show up? Ask a few to run to the nearest grocery store and buy all the cupcakes, sheet cakes, and cookies they can find.

6. If it’s after the wedding… Yep, it can happen! Especially with photography and video — sometimes the shooter just never delivers a final product. Maybe they lost the memory card or maybe they just won’t email you back. Whatever the case, if they signed a contract (which they should have), you can take legal action. Hey, those photos are important!

Oh, and if you feel your vendor was really in the wrong, certainly file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and write reviews online. You’ll save future couples lots of headaches.

By Kristin Doherty