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Tales of Disaster from the Big Day
By Elissa Stein, Daniel Mailliard, Chris Murphy
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1999 Elissa Stein and Daniel Mailliard
All rights reserved.
a guest with a ringside seat
My friend Marie's daughter got married several years ago. They had a lovely wedding and a huge reception — I believe there were over three hundred people there.
During the ceremony it was hard to miss one of the bridesmaids carrying on with one of the ushers. They walked down the aisle together, holding hands, whispering and giggling. During the ceremony they kept smiling at each other and when we got to the reception, they sat next to each other on the dais. We all thought they were an adorable couple, they must have been newlyweds.
She was. He wasn't. She had been married to someone else for five months. By the time she and the usher got up to dance together the husband came storming across the dance floor, ready for a fight.
Marie's great-aunt Sophia quickly got up and ran over to intervene, but instead of stopping the fight, got in the middle of it — she caught the punch intended for the usher and crumpled to the floor, out cold. Someone called 911 and an ambulance arrived, whisking Aunt Sophia to the hospital.
She suffered a cracked cheekbone but recovered pretty quickly. Not as quickly as the bridesmaid and her husband. They got divorced.
a guest who thought you really could wear it again
I've been a bridesmaid several times, and while all the brides say "I hope you get to wear the dress again," we all know it's not likely to ever happen. Except once. ... I had been dating this guy David for about three months when he asked me to go with him to his cousin's wedding in New Jersey. I barely knew him and figured I'd never see these relatives again, so I decided to wear a bridesmaid's outfit from a wedding I was just in. I swear, I've never done this before — it's just that I really didn't want to spend money on a new dress. It was a long, fuchsia, two-piece outfit and I didn't think I'd look too bad.
As the ceremony started and the first bridesmaid walked down the aisle, I thought I'd die. She was wearing my dress. Same color. Same everything. Then five more girls came down the aisle, looking just like me. I just sat there, mortified, knowing the rest of the night was going to be an embarrassing disaster.
We had no choice; we had to walk down the reception line. Several of the bridesmaids giggled when they saw me, but the bride was not amused. Here I was, a total stranger, looking like I belonged in her wedding party.
For the rest of the night I had to fight the photographers who kept insisting I was needed for photo sessions.
Not only that, I ended up marrying David, so I see these people regularly. It's a story that will never go away.
a bride on pins and needles
My bridesmaids were late and I was getting really pissed. It was the morning of my wedding and I was sitting in the basement of my church, frantically pacing up and down, cursing and blowing cigarette smoke out of one of the stained-glass windows when the first one finally showed up. After I screamed at her for five straight minutes, she explained to me that the woman who was making their dresses never finished them — she had to redesign all the dresses for a wedding that took place before mine and never caught up.
Susan, the first girl to show up, had her hem pinned. Molly, the next girl to arrive, had her hem and right sleeve pinned. Kelly, girl-number-three, had a pinned hem and two pinned sleeves. The next two bridesmaids were even worse. They showed up to church ten minutes apart, each dress with more pinning and less sewing.
While they were trying to get dressed, my mother ran around with a box of Band-Aids, helping the girls who cut themselves and making sure there were no bloodstains on the pink satin. She had the photographer stop taking pictures of me and start taking evidence photos of the dresses for the lawsuit I was surely going to file after the ceremony.
Things didn't get much better at the reception. The more we all drank, the more we all danced. The more we all danced, the more the dresses fell apart. Several of the men at my reception danced for the first times in their lives, hoping that a vital part of a bridesmaid's dress would come unpinned during the song. By the end of the reception, the bridesmaids had to borrow T-shirts and boxers from their dates because their dresses were in pieces on the floor.
And on the way home, they all piled into a limo and went to the bank, stopping payment on the checks to the dressmaker.
a finicky guest
I wasn't going to go to this wedding reception because I was on a diet and didn't want to be tempted to eat. But the bride caught my eye at the wedding and I knew she'd kill me if I didn't go to the reception. It was a catered affair and everything looked great, but I vowed I would not eat. And it was a good thing I did because, toward the end of the reception, over 75 percent of the guests had to be taken away in ambulances because of food poisoning. A pasta salad with fish oil was the culprit; there were so many victims that they had to be taken to several hospitals throughout the city because one emergency room couldn't handle them all.
a bewildered guest
A friend of mine from work was getting married in Chinatown and I decided it would be a nice gesture if I went. I was given directions to the wedding hall and schlepped all the way down to Chinatown with present in hand. When I got there I noticed that I was the only white person in the entire congregation. The congregation also noticed that I was the only white person there, and whispers and rumblings in Chinese went rolling through the chapel. I didn't see anyone from work, but then again, I was new to the department and didn't know a lot of people.
I also didn't know my friend's bride, so when an unfamiliar Asian woman came walking down the aisle I didn't think anything of it. In fact, I didn't think anything was wrong until the groom stepped out from behind a screen. It was not my friend. I was in the wrong wedding chapel at the wrong wedding and the only way out was down the center aisle.
I waited until the bride got to the end of the aisle, and the bridesmaids all got situated, then I excused myself, climbed over the three people at the end of the pew, and walked down the center aisle to the back of the chapel.
Whispers and rumblings in Chinese again filled the chapel, and only got louder as I began rummaging through the gift table looking for my gift. Finally I found what looked like my present and walked out of the chapel just as two big guys were walking toward me. I'm sure they thought I was stealing the present.
I reread the directions my friend had given me and decided if I couldn't find the right chapel, I'd just go straight to the reception. I was thirty minutes early, but that just gave me more time to drink. As the guests arrived I got nervous because none of them looked familiar, but finally some people I knew started showing up and the reception went off without a hitch.
A couple weeks later my friend and his new bride sent me a thank-you note for the lovely Tiffany candlesticks. ... I laughed out loud as I read the note, thinking to myself that I must have picked up the wrong present — what I had bought them was a cheese plate.
a bride with a controlling jewish mother
It's a Jewish tradition: When you get married, the groom breaks a glass. It symbolizes good luck for the couple. Instead of a glass, most people use a lightbulb, so that it'll break easily on the first try.
At my wedding, it took six tries for my husband to break the glass. When the cloth around it was removed, we saw it was a solid highball glass, not a lightbulb. To this day, I think my mom wasn't thrilled I was marrying him and this was her way of putting a jinx on things.
in the movies
The day Judy married Yale she got everything she ever wanted: a big house, a live-in maid, two walk-in closets, and a successful businessman to take care of her. Too bad she only had it for six hours. On her wedding night, after already being serviced by Judy in the back of the limo during the reception, Yale dies while going back for seconds (and we're not talking about the buffet).
The distraught Judy, unforgettably played by Goldie Hawn, doesn't know what to do. Her first marriage lasted only six months and her second only six hours. Miserable, and sure she is being punished by God, rich-girl Judy disappears from her dead husband's funeral and hides out in a hotel suite.
Alone for the first time in her life, Judy calls a radio talk show for advice. Unfortunately for Judy, Frasier wasn't on the air then, and she ends up talking to an army recruiter, who apparently gets paid by the numbers. He cons Judy into joining the army with the promise of yachts, condos, and $428 per month.
But green doesn't seem to be Judy's color. She screws up and screws around until she gets her entire platoon punished — marching in circles during a rainstorm with Judy announcing, "I want to wear my sandals again, I want to go out to lunch, I want to be normal."
Sadly, Judy isn't normal. Because when her father and mother come to break her out of the army, she suddenly doesn't want to go. Despite her controlling father and horrific drill sergeant, Captain Louis, Judy decides to stay in the army and be all she can be.
Finishing basic training at the top of her class, Judy gets assigned to an elite parachute force, the Thornbirds. But on the day of her big jump, she can't make the leap of faith and backs down. Her commander, "Thorny," lets her off the hook, informing her that there are other ways she can serve. He then pops off his parachute and starts unbuttoning his shirt. Judy's only escape: out the plane and into the wild blue yonder.
Back on ground, old Thorny tries to exile Judy to Greenland so she can't ruin his reputation. "Penguins," Judy replies, "I don't think so." Guam means malaria and the South Pacific means her hair will frizz. So where does Judy end up? Paris, and in the arms of Henri (Armand Assante).
They had met in New Orleans while Judy was on leave, and after Judy pops in on him in France they quickly become lovers. ... Well, Henri, Judy, the maid, and Henri's last girlfriend (oh, those French). Despite Henri's wandering eye, Judy moves in with him, and when forced to choose between him and the army (Henri was a Communist for a short time) she chooses him (and his really big house).
Once on track, Judy slips back into her old ways. She becomes more of Henri's maid than his lover, taking his car to the shop, picking up his dry cleaning, and having his dog neutered (she should have taken Henri instead).
But this is what Judy has always wanted, right? Maybe not. As she walks down the aisle in a pilgrimlike wedding dress, her once-blond hair now flaming red at Henri's request, Judy begins to flash back to her marriage with Yale. As Henri says his vows, Judy flashes to her controlling father, and as Henri is about to slip the ring onto her finger, Judy snaps out of it.
"Not so fast," she says, and, admitting that the timing is bad, she breaks up with Henri. It's not what she wants after all. She doesn't need a man to make her whole. And when Henri says she's stupid for feeling this way she punches him in the face and walks out of the ceremony.
Once outside, Judy rips off her veil and lets it fly in a sudden wind that can only be described as a cleansing breath. Judy spins on her heel and walks defiantly and independently down the driveway (hopefully to the nearest drug store to get some Miss Clairol for that awful hair).
an overheated guest
My husband's boss invited us to his super-expensive, posh, celebrity-studded wedding at a fancy New York City hotel. We got there half an hour early, were served champagne, and seated in a room absolutely filled with beautiful white and yellow flowers. I noticed that the flowers were starting to wilt and the room was stifling — someone said there was an air-conditioning problem.
The ceremony started late and by the time the first bridesmaid started down the aisle, we were all dripping wet. Suddenly there was a murmur and then a commotion behind us to the left. An older man had passed out. A waiter rushed in with ice water. When the old man came to the ceremony started again. Then, (I swear this is true) another old man passed out. This seemed to be more serious: He didn't revive right away and the room got a little out of control. Hotel security came rushing in, knocking over a huge flowered arch that framed the entrance. It went crashing down on the three back rows of people and they all started screaming.
Then the groom crumpled. Really. The paramedics arrived and split up to aid the old man and the groom. The old man was taken away on a stretcher (he turned out to be okay) and the groom had an oxygen mask strapped to his face. Everyone ran out the back, to cooler air and away from disaster.
Finally, with things somewhat settled down, dinner was served and the reception began — only, someone realized that the ceremony had never been completed. After the main course the rabbi grabbed the band's microphone and concluded the ceremony. He then led the horah, announced the cutting of the cake, and sang a couple of songs with the band.
We had never seen anything like that before. Although, to tell the truth, we had never seen anything like that entire wedding before either.
a pooper-scooping bride
It was the second marriage for both of us so we decided to have a wedding that would really make us happy. We loved the water and planned our ceremony to take place at sunrise, on a dock, by a lake in Maine. We invited only close friends and relatives, and our beagle, Molly.
The sun started to rise; the reflection over the water was beautiful. As the ceremony was about to begin, I noticed the priest looking a little concerned. He looked at me and then back down at his feet: There was poop all over the dock. Molly had made herself right at home.
My father found a shovel in a shack back at the beach, cleaned up the mess, and kept Molly on a leash for the rest of the morning.
a scorched DJ
I was a DJ for a Long Island wedding hall for several years. I saw several crazy things, but nothing more outrageous than when the bride's dress caught on fire.
The dinner plates were just being cleared when the waiters at the hall brought out dessert: flaming cherries jubilee. The crowd was really impressed and began to clap for the waiters; then the one serving the bride and groom got a little cocky. He stopped and bowed to the crowd before putting his tray on the table, and while he was bowing, his arm caught on fire. He panicked and threw the still-flaming dessert into the bride's lap and her dress caught on fire.
The groom put the fire out by pouring a pitcher of water onto his new wife. The waiter was fired, no one ate their dessert, and for the first song of the night we were tempted to play "Burning Down the House," but instead we went with the bride's selection of "Sunrise, Sunset."
The Brady Bunch
Here's a story of a lovely lady, who was planning a wedding of her own. ... You know the story, but do you remember the ceremony?
Carol Martin, who has three girls of her own, is marrying Mike Brady, who has three boys and a dog. What we don't find out in the opening credits is that Carol had a cat and that Fluffy and Tiger would be attending the wedding.
In the middle of their beautiful ceremony (Carol's lemon-yellow dress matched the tablecloths), Fluffy meowed, Tiger escaped from the car, and a chase ensued. The two animals, followed by Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, Cindy, and Alice, ran down the aisle, through rows of guests, and across the buffet table, knocking over food, drink, and finally the wedding cake — right on top of Mike and Carol.
The ceremony ruined, Mike and Carol (even though they had taken tranquilizers before the wedding) yelled at the kids for bringing the animals and then left on their honeymoon. But these were America's perfect parents, and neither one could enjoy the honeymoon knowing that they yelled at their kids.
So what's a newly wedded couple to do? If you're the Brady bunch you go home, get the kids, get the maid, get the dog, get the cat, and invite them all to go on the honeymoon with you. No wonder there was never a seventh Brady.
a nervous bridesmaid
My sister got a phone call from a high school friend she hadn't spoken to in years, asking her to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. Ellen, caught totally off guard, said yes. She regretted her answer as soon as she hung up, but it was too late. So she dealt with it by not dealing — she went to her dress fittings but that was about it. She even blew off the rehearsal dinner.
The morning of the wedding, she got dressed in her peach-satin, hoop-skirted, to-the-floor gown with matching gloves and hat. I have to say she looked pretty ridiculous and she knew it. She begged me to come to the church with her for moral support.
Excerpted from Awfully Wedded by Elissa Stein, Daniel Mailliard, Chris Murphy. Copyright © 1999 Elissa Stein and Daniel Mailliard. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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