Fast Fixes for 7 Wedding-Day Wardrobe Malfunctions

Photo: Emily Steffen

These common fashion emergencies will be no problem thanks to some expert-approved tips.

01 of 08
Emily Steffen

When your wedding finally arrives, you're on the ultimate cloud nine. Unfortunately, nothing can bring you crashing down to earth faster than a wardrobe malfunction that threatens to mar the vision you've come so close to executing. Think: a broken bustle, stubborn zipper, stains, tears, and everything in between. Freaking out? Don't—not just yet. There is likely a way out of every little wedding dress-related disaster you encounter on the big day—plus some handy tools you can pack ahead to prepare for the worst. Here, wedding planners and stylists describe some of the most common fashion emergencies they've seen, and how to handle them if they come up on your big day.

02 of 08

A Broken Bustle

Joseph Katz

Your bustle has an important job—holding up all that tulle, organza, or whichever fabulous fabric captured your heart is no easy feat! "Bustles typically break toward the end of the night after a lot of dancing and partying," says Kelli Corn, founder of Kelli Corn Weddings and Events in Bluffton, South Carolina. When searching for your dream dress, consider the fact that ribbons hold up better than buttons, says Corn. Jacqueline Weppner, owner of the bridal-styling company Merci New York, advises brides to ask their seamstresses to reinforce the bustle beforehand with monofilament. This will help give it the strength to hold up against snags and kicked-up heels.

If your bustle does break during your wedding, large safety pins or a sewing kit (all hail needle and thread!) can save the day. "At the end of the night, it doesn't have to be pinned perfectly," says Corn. "The point is to pull the layers up so you're not running the risk of tearing the dress."

03 of 08

A Stuck Zipper

Nancy Ray Photography

Or worse, one that decides your wedding day is the perfect time to bow out. If your zipper is in the stuck phase, first check to make sure you're not accidentally dragging any fabric in it. If you are, slowly ease the fabric free with your fingertips. After that, take a clear wax stick like Zipper-Ease (or even a white crayon), and wax the zipper to help ease it up or down, says Amy Mancuso, owner of Amy Mancuso Events in Phoenix, Arizona. If your zipper is plain broken, that's where needle and thread come in handy. "Sometimes I've had to sew a bride into her dress," says Mancuso. That needle and thread can also help in a pinch if you've got any torn seams that need fixing.

04 of 08

A Stained Dress

Alixann Loosle Photography

Whether it's a dribble of foundation or a smudge of lipstick, even the teeniest of stains are unwelcome. We suggest investing in the Madame Paulette Personal Stain Remover Kit, which comes with three targeted solvents to treat various stains and a distilled-water rinse and absorbent cloth. "A Tide to Go Pen or Shout Wipe can work if the stain is smaller," adds Corn. If a splash of red wine has made its way to your dress, Corn suggests this brilliant hack: "Pouring white wine on top of a small red wine stain can help pull it out." If you're nervous about risking that DIY method, consider turning to chalk. "There are so many different shades of white, so you have to be careful because you could just draw more attention to it," says Mancuso. But if you have just a small stain and a stick of chalk in the right shade, you're golden.

05 of 08

A Dry Cleaning Disaster

Catherine Mead

Wedding planners often double as superheroes, as evidenced by the time Corn saved a bride from a huge fashion catastrophe. The bride sent her dress to get pressed the day before the wedding, but didn't check it until before dawn on her wedding day during a fit of excitement-induced insomnia. Her dress originally had a train with buttons all down the back so the fabric would gather into billowing poufs, but the dry cleaners pressed the poufs out. The result was deep pleats that had the bride calling Corn in a panic at 5:30 a.m.! Corn had a dressmaker pop all the buttons off, a dry cleaner re-pressed it, then the dressmaker re-made the back of the dress. "The bride started crying when she saw it because she was so thrilled," says Corn. The takeaway: It's a simple move, but always check your dress after any last-minute alterations or dry cleaning!

06 of 08

Slippery Shoes

Amelia Johnson Photography

Brand-new shoes are a joy—and a hazard. Prevent slips by gently abrading the bottoms with 50-grit sandpaper, focusing on the front two inches. And keep those new kicks from blistering your feet: Apply a few dabs of waxy Solemates Blister Blocker. "The nongreasy formula won't stain," says Weppner. If fabric shoes get scuffed, cover the marks with white chalk. For leather, owner of Cacky's Bride + Aid, Cacky Rivers, swears by a dab of correction fluid for white, or permanent marker for black.

07 of 08

Unsightly Smudges

Katie Stoops Photography

White marks from deodorant/antiperspirant aren't visible on most wedding gowns, of course, but they can mar your bridesmaids' dresses or groom's rehearsal-dinner look. Lift them away with a clean pair of nylons or Braza Wipe Out sponges.

08 of 08

Damaged Hem

Heather Payne Photography

The bottom of your dress can take a beating. Brush dirt away with a clean, white terry-cloth towel. For more stubborn soil (as long as the fabric is dry), try sweeping briskly toward the edge with a clean makeup wedge. If a hem has fallen, use a thin snip of double-sided fabric tape to secure it in place.

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