When Wedding Disasters Strike

Greetings all.

Twistie here. You may remember me from when I had the honor to fill in for the amazing and glorious Never teh Bride in May, while she was off making her handle inaccurate. Well, from now on, I have the great good fortune join NtB as the weekend blogger here at Manolo for the Brides. I look forward to sharing with you all I have learned through my lifelong fascination with weddings and marriage and my experiences as a proud DIY bride who created a superfantastic wedding with nearly no funds.

But for now, let’s get down to brass tacks.

I’ve heard many old saws and superstitions about weddings over the years, but only one has held absolutely true at every wedding I’ve attended in more than forty years: something always goes wrong.

It may be large, it may be small, but it will happen.

Rings get lost, the wrong flowers or cake get delivered, someone loses or rips a piece of wedding finery, vendors fail to come through, it rains when the happy couple have no plan b for weather, personal grudges between guests lead to small acts of violence…and the list goes on.

Whatever the disaster that strikes you, there are ways to minimize the damage.

1: Don’t panic. If you lose your head, everyone will remember your panic attack and forget how you solved the problem. Before you scream, cry, throw something, or decide to get drunk, take a deep breath and try to put things in perspective.

2: Have a disaster pack and a couple plans up your sleeve beforehand. Will you need it all? Probably not. But it does no good to only have antacid tablets when what you require is duct tape, and vice versa. Have you invited two people who have been feuding for the last six years? Detail someone to keep an eye on the situation and defuse any potential battles. Put someone you know is good in a crisis on standby to be in charge if something goes wrong with a vendor.

3: Remain flexible. One friend of mine wound up with the wrong cake delivered to her wedding reception. While it didn’t look anything like the cake she’d ordered and she had no idea what flavor it was, she decided to just go with the flow and serve it. It was roughly the same size as the cake she’d ordered, the white and gold frosting worked with her color scheme, and she decided to take it as a positive sign for her marriage that it was originally intended for a fiftieth anniversary party. Nobody noticed a thing wrong. Sometimes a disaster isn’t a disaster as long as nobody knows about it.

On the other hand, I once attended a wedding where the bride managed to leave her throwing bouquet in the church dressing room and the door was locked when she went to get it for the reception. She held up the reception for an hour over the bouquet rather than either throw something else or just get the party started and quietly send someone to get the key. In this case, inflexibility created a much bigger problem than actually existed.

4: Keep your sense of humor handy. So the ring bearer got stage fright and ran screaming back up the aisle to where his mother was sitting. Or perhaps the DJ mixed up the tracks and you find yourself dancing with your new groom to Your Cheating Heart. Or maybe (and this one happened at my wedding!) the groom has failed to familiarize himself with the wedding ceremony as written and breaks in to say ‘I do’ four times before his cue. Laughter is the only possible reasonable response in these cases. The more you laugh, the better time you have, too.

5: Be Zen. Remember in the end the only thing that can truly ruin your wedding is if something manages to prevent it happening. If you get through the ceremony, it’s amazing what you can survive.

6: Whatever goes wrong at your wedding, there’s someone out there with a much, much worse wedding war story to tell. Chances are your story can help another lady out there feel better about her wedding, too.

So what went wrong at a wedding you attended? Took part in? Let’s hear your best war stories!

Sad Bride

24 Responses to “When Wedding Disasters Strike”

  1. Melissa says:

    At my friend N’s wedding, her husband’s uncle was videotaping the ceremony with a hand-held camera. Five minutes into the ceremony the chair he was sitting on broke and he crashed to the ground, camera and all. Needless to say the ceremony ground to a screeching halt while everyone made sure the uncle was OK! He was fine, and I think the bride and groom are considering submitting the tape to America’s Funniest Home Videos.

    Later, N told me that thirty years earlier, her aunt (the matron of honor) had actually fainted at the altar because she’d been too busy prepping her kids (the flower girl and ring bearer) to eat breakfast. She figures every wedding disaster after that one is fairly minor.

  2. dr nic says:

    At my wedding (three and a half years ago), there was the incident of the Unity candle. See I picked out this beautiful set made of Waterford Crystal. The time came for my husband and I to light the one candle. I gripped mine by holding both the candle and the holder. He only held the holder. As we were trying to light the candle, mine kept pushing the wick down and it wouldn’t light. My husband in an attempt to make in light, had tipped his candle upside down. It promptly fell out of the holder, onto the unspoiled white altar cloth, putting out his candle and leave a scorch mark large enough to be visible on our wedding photos. So what did we do when this happened? He picked up his candle, put it back in the holder, re-lit it off the now burning Unity candle, and we continued on with the wedding. It’s captured for all to see in our wedding proofs (the photographer got a great shot of the candle falling) and our video. And we love telling the story.

  3. Annalucia says:

    About five summers ago the Annalucia and the Tedesco were invited to the wedding of the very young coworker of the Tedesco, and his even younger bride. The ceremony was at a country club of some sort, out on a concrete piazza with many folding chairs, a makeshift altar, and no shade whatsoever.

    The guests took their seats and waited. And waited, and waited a little more. No explanation from anyone , just heat and discomfort. Even the minister spent an unpleasant hour or so looking at his watch and pacing about the altar. We began to wonder if the groom had got the cold feet.

    At last, over an hour late, the bride and her principals appeared, and the wedding went forth as planned, but still there was no apology or explanation.

    Afterwards the Annalucia heard that the florist had been late in delivering the y oung lady’s bouquet – and she was determined that she would NOT walk down the aisle without her flowers. And so she did not, but at the price of great rudeness and inconsideration toward her guests.

  4. Kim says:

    When I went to pick up my wedding dress, my soon-to-be-husband and his groomsmen were all at the shop picking up their tuxedos in the middle of a thunderstorm. So, I just grabbed my dress bag and left. After my rehearsal dinner, as I was on my way to bed at the friend’s house where I was staying, my friend looked more closely at the bag and said “why is there something green on your dress?” We opened the bag and discovered the dress inside was NOT my dress. Not only was it not my dress, it was ugly and a size 2. I am very much not a size 2.

    Everyone in the vicinity panicked. I, exhausted and needing a good night’s sleep to not look like death warmed over on my wedding day, picked up the phone, called my mom, and let her deal with the crisis.

    Luckily, the shop had not given my dress to anyone else so my mom picked it up right at 9 the next morning when it opened.

  5. Never teh Bride says:

    Yay, welcome aboard, Twistie! My own wedding day disaster simply involved someone being mean, so isn’t quite as interesting as a cake tumbling over in the wind or a crazy dress mishap. In fact, I’m not sure anything truly wedding-y did go wrong on my wedding day — and thank goodness for that.

  6. Cassie says:

    I was part of my cousin’s wedding, as a junior bridesmaid, when I was 12. The morning of, some of the bidal party decided to get fast food. Everything went fine, until they got back. One of the bridesmaids got out of the car, shut the door, and took a step. Her dress, was, naturally, caught in the door, and the skirt ripped away from the bodice from hip to hip in the back.

    We got her pinned back together, and everything went on as planned. By the time the reception had started, however, the FRONT of her skirt had come unstitched, and her dress was held together by safety pins all the way around. On top of that, of course, the flower girl, who was dressed in a miniature replica of the bride’s gown, was running around and sliding on her knees in the hall, which naturally tore HER skirt off as well.

    Those, btw, are the two biggies. I was the only one who didn’t have trouble with her dress. I maintain it’s because I didn’t use the dress shop’s seamstress, but rather let my mother do it.

  7. Sarah says:

    My father had an emergency apendectomy 36 hours before my parents’ wedding. He had paid for an expensive breakfast at a fancy hotel for the entire wedding party, but he and my mom missed it, as she was busy checking him out of the hospital. Between the wedding and reception they went home and he slept and she made chicken soup and jello (I’m guessing she changed out of the dress for that.) The reception wasn’t a sit-down affair, but they didn’t eat the food there, and didn’t even get to cut the cake! My mom drove my dad home early, before all the guests had arrived, and put him to bed. They were miraculously able to get a refund on their non-refundable Carmel, CA honeymoon cottage rental, but they had no honeymoon.

  8. Toomanyshoes says:

    Where to start? My fabulous, sparkly, princessy shoes were discovered to be still at the bridal shop the morning of my wedding (thank you, God, for my sister). My father brought his girlfriend to the wedding, which wouldn’t have been a bad thing except that, apparently, he and my mother had recently been discussing getting back together and bringing “her” was just the icing on my mother’s cake. She promptly went into a funk, announced to my sister that she was “not gaining a son, but losing a daughter”, didn’t get to the church when she was supposed to, and was pretty much zero fun the entire time. She wouldn’t participate in the bouquet catching, but my father (of course) had fun with the garter catching ritual. And (of course) he caught it (married the girlfriend not too long after). It was a great day. The fun does continue. We’ve been married 19 years and the only conversation that is ever had with my mother about my wedding is about how “unfriendly” my husband’s parents were. Unrelated but still sort of fitting…two years ago, my husband lost my wedding ring. Its whereabouts are still unknown.

  9. QuiteLight says:

    Long, but worth it, in my opinion.

    I went to a small wedding for a young couple on a limited budget. I barely knew either of them, so I was free to spectate without feeling bad. The 3 year-old ring bearer had been promised a Super Soaker (huge water gun) if he behaved for the ceremony. He made it down the aisle OK, but 5 minutes into the ceremony, he got bored & took off right out the back door of the small chapel, which was right beside the altar. One of the groomsmen took off right after him because a) he was 3, & b) we were at the chapel of the local psychiatric hospital (it was affordable and actually quite nice, all wood). But he couldn’t catch the little guy fast enough, since juniour was too small to see over the cars in the enormous parking lot! They made it back in time for the couple to exit the chapel.

    Then they gave the ring bearer his Super Soaker anyways. Unloaded, at least.

    I’m standing off to the side, chatting with the few people I do know, and notice the little guy taking off again, by himself. Not wanting to scare him, since I’m a stranger, I go after him slowly & ask where he’s going; to fill his Super Soaker, of course! I don’t remember how, but I talk him into heading back to his mom, who hadn’t even noticed he was gone. Pysch hospital, remember. Count your kids.

    It gets better. Reception was fine, lots of weird comments from family (bride’s family didn’t like the groom, but they’d just had a kid together, so there was LOTS of weird passive-aggressiveness), good food.

    Bouquet tossing time. I HATE this ritual, so I stood at the back, well away from the chaos. For some reason, it took a really long time to start, so I start talking to the really pretty blonde in the short dress next to me, who’s using the delay to have a smoke. I ask her how she knows the couple, and she says:

    “Oh, I don’t. I’m an escort. I’m with the groomsmen.”

    Yup. As in, the groomsmen HIRED an ESCORT to party with ALL of them. And brought her to the reception. I wasn’t sure I heard that right, but over the course of the evening, sure enough, I saw her rotating through the laps & paws of most of the groomsmen.

    I’ve never seen that topped.

    Oh, and the bouquet toss hit the ceiling fan, picked up velocity, & whanged off the head of one of the waiting women, where it ricocheted into the waiting hands of my shrieking, normally sane friend who refused to relinquish it to the victim. Good feelings all around.

    The marriage didn’t last a year.

  10. JaneC says:

    I am a harpist and singer, and I volunteered my services to a bride I’d been friends with since seventh grade. I had done weddings before, and she was very organized, so it seemed like it would be easy–that is, until the bride called me in a panic, two weeks before the wedding, and told me that the organist from the church had never called her back, even though she had called him every three weeks for the last five months.
    I called him, and asked if he would rehearse with me. Three days later he called me back. Eight days before the wedding, the organist finally met with me and, since he had never bothered to speak with the bride, saw the music choices for the first time. Even though all the music was pretty standard, he confessed to me that he was a self-taught musician, and had never heard of the march the bride had chosen, and wouldn’t be able to learn it in one week’s time!
    Rather than ask the bride to pick new music just a week before the wedding, I played the chosen processional music myself (my two years of organ lessons being more than sufficient to get me through). I don’t think anyone was the wiser, but God help me if I ever work with that so-called organist again.

  11. Gigi says:

    As my new husband and I were announced and entered the reception hall, we noticed that our cake was collapsing – it was a Leaning Tower of Cake ready to topple at any second. By then we were just happy to have made it through the stresses of the past six months and simply laughed it off. The quick-thinking country club staff disassembled the layers until it was time for the cutting of the cake. Sadly, the bakery manager’s big boss was a guest at the reception causing him to be fired the following week. 🙁

    The highlight of the evening was my boss and his tipsy wife getting into a major argument which resulted in her storming out of the reception, having him paged for “emergency” phone calls and subsequently filing for divorce while I was on my honeymoon!

    All in all, a good sense of humor will served us well!

  12. Willi says:

    I was a waitress at a wedding reception that was held in a small meeting room. It typically seated 25 comfortably but there were at least 45-50 guests in the room. It was beyond tight. The waitresses were trying to figure out how we were going to serve the meal when we could barely squeeze through the aisles.

    Just then the bride’s father showed up unannounced. He had changed his mind and decided at the last minute to come to the reception after all. And he brought his new wife. There was absolutely no room for two more guests. None. Then mother of the bride did the most lovely, graceful thing I have ever seen. She stood up and greeted the two like they were welcome guests. She gave the new wife her own place of honor at the head table and asked us to find a chair for her ex. We were able to shoehorn one more place at the head table to fit the new arrivals and the reception went on as if nothing had happened. It was her daughter’s day and nothing was going to ruin it.

    What about the mother of the bride? There was no room for her anywhere. So she spent the next hour moving from guest to guest, chatting with them, thanking them for coming, etc. She was in our way, of course, and apologized to us but we were so in awe of her cool and her class that it didn’t matter. If she was willing to make that sacrifice without complaint we weren’t going to complain, either.

    It’s like Twistie said – keep your cool, don’t panic, remember what the day is really all about and it will be okay.

  13. Poochie says:

    My wedding was, all in all, pretty great. But as you say, with so many details there are a few things bound to go wrong.

    In my case, the night before the wedding, my maid of honor and I were trying on the dress for fun. Well, I broke the zipper! I think I started hyperventilating at that point – “What am I going to do, Where can I get a dress tomorrow, I can’t tell my mom, What am I going to do, etc. etc.”

    Anyways, 8am the next morning I am down at the fabric store (thank God I had my car there!) and bought a bunch of thread and hooks and eyes. While my husband-to-be and his best friend were blissfully unaware off lying in the sun, I was trying so sew about 40 hooks and eyes up the back of my dress. The fabric was so thick my fingers were bleeding trying to get the needle to go through. We did get the zipper to work, but did the hooks and eyes just in case. Needless to say I had perfect posture throughout the car ride and ceremony. My hubby at one point put his hand on my back during the ceremony and I hissed at him: “Don’t touch my back! I’ll tell you why later!”

    To make matters worse, my Dad came in the limo to pick us up from the hotel. I was in my dress and trying to get all of our stuff (me and my m-o-h’s) out the door. He was yelling at us to hurry up, blah, blah, blah and I got so stressed out that I decided to just leave all of our stuff in the room – including my purse! Even though I didn’t have the room for another night. Luckily when my husband and I came back after the wedding, all of my stuff was still there. They just charged us for another night.

    The final straw was when we were in the limo driving to the ceremony. My m-o-h decided that she was not going to be able to do the reading during the ceremony that she was suppossed to do. Which she had known about for a year. Then here and the other bridesmaids were arguing over who was going to do it. This went on until we were in the back of the church getting ready to walk down the aisle. Finally I had to say: I don’t care WHO is doing it, but someone better be up there!

    Can you believe it! In the end my sister go stuck doing the reading.

    Other than that, it was great!

  14. Twistie says:

    Wow! You guys have some great stories! Willi, that MOB gets my nomination for sainthood!

    So now it’s time to open wide my wedding closet and tell what went wrong on my big day.

    You already know Mr. Twistie said I do about four too many times, but there were two other small glitches, as well.

    The first was that a friend of ours who had written a poem for us he was going to recite in both Gaelic and English (my background is largely Scottish and I was emphasizing that in a big way) didn’t show up in time. I held things up for him for about five so minutes, but then decided to go ahead. Weddings always seem to run a bit late, but I wasn’t going to let it turn into one of those events where people are whispering and wondering if the bride has changed her mind. It was easy enough to just skip the poem. By the time we got through with the receiving line and were ready to join the party, he’d gotten there after all. I forget whether they got lost or got stuck in bad traffic somewhere, but the important thing was my friend and his wife had appeared. In the end, he recited the poem after the Best Man gave his toast.

    The other was that my poetic friend wasn’t the only latecomer. The wedding was held in a redwood grove. There was a small amphitheater set up on a low hillside, and down below (where guests entered) there was a picnic area with tables and a small dancefloor. In the middle of the ceremony, I learned that sound travelled perfectly from the party area to the ceremony area. Right in the middle of the ceremony, we heard someone down below saying quite clearly “I thought there was a wedding here today.” Everybody laughed too hard to hear the response. To this day, I’m not sure who it was, but it remains one of the highlights of the day…and the wedding video provided by a camera enthusiast of a guest.

  15. The Brittness says:

    My string quartet played an outdoor wedding last summer at a local park. Everything was going lovely, until the wedding started and the grandparents were escorted down the aisle.

    One elderly gentleman was in a wheelchair, and a younger relative was pushing him. His wheelchair hit a pothole/depression in the ground, and the old man came flying out of his chair! He was fine, but I don’t think I ever laughed so hard at a wedding before in my life!

  16. Phyllis says:

    Well, this is not a disaster really, but more in the “best laid plans category”: our reception was in a historic property, and so the only restroom on the same floor as the reception happened to be in the ballroom where we assembled for dinner. The door also opened directly into the ballroom, and every guest pretty much knew who was in the restroom at any given time.

    So when yours truly, the Bride, had to use the facilties, what do you suppose greeted me when I emerged? Yup – a blinding flash of paparazzi-like activity because everyone had to get that pricesless shot of the Bride coming out of the bathroom in her Big White Dress.

  17. Toni says:

    My personal story:

    I hired my friend Tina to DJ at my wedding, and we borrowed the necessary equipment from my husband’s church (which was not the church we were getting married in). Apparently, while Tina (with the help of some friends) was setting up the sound equipment, they heard a *pop* and it started to smoke. They freaked out, and miraculously managed to get some spare parts from a Radio Shack and get the whole setup working, all while the rest of us were busy with the ceremony. I didn’t find out any of this until after the wedding. Hooray for friends that keep their cool and get things fixed.

    When we returned the equipment to Chris’s church, felling horrible about possibly breaking some of it, the pastor laughed and said “why, that stuff is really old, I’m just happy it worked for you!”

  18. Toni says:

    Now for a friend’s wedding from this weekend:

    The couple is Cambodian, so they had a cultural/religious ceremony with their large families on Friday, and just had a quickie ceremony for the rest of us on Saturday, before the large reception. During the Saturday ceremony, their officiant, who was reading from a sheet printed off the internet, proceeded to ask:

    “Do you, Sophorn, take Vereak to be your wife….. I mean husband? Man, and I’m not even drunk yet.”


    The funny thing was that the reception was a large 400+ person affair in a huge ballroom with a 9-course meal. Plus, every since table got their own bottle of Hennesey.

  19. Jules says:

    We had a mishap at our reception. We had hired a band to play at our reception and gone over all the music with them ahead of time, including our first dance song, which was the only song of the evening that we preferred to have played via CD, not live. As the cocktail hour ended and people began filing into the ballroom for the reception, I was informed that the band still needed the CD with our first dance song it from me. Our first dance was to be immediately after our introduction, followed by dinner, and they didn’t have the CD! They thought I would bring it, I thought they would bring it, ayyy! Our wedding coordinator quickly rushed into the kitchen and asked everybody on the hotel staff if they had our song on CD in their cars, and somebody did! A mere 10 minutes later, everybody was seated, we were introduced, and our dance went off without a hitch, with only a few folks the wiser…whew!

  20. La BellaDonna says:

    Ah, where to start… my grandparents, for reasons which remain unknown, did not attend … even though the rest of my family, from the same area, did – and would presumably have been willing to drive. No one from the groom’s family attended – his sister-in-law was in the hospital being gutted; they thought it was appendicitis, but it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy (BIG scar); and his mother’s husband was ALSO in the hospital, said mom, not unnaturally, in attendance on her husband. And as my FI was getting dressed, in the breeches he’d been pulling on and off for months, the buttons started pulling off the shanks, like machine-gun fire! Twenty-three pearl buttons strafed the room, and the breeches were semi-buttonless. Semi, because the shanks remained firmly sewn on. My mother thought the marriage was going to end then and there, but safety pins saved the day. The only other thing that concerned me was the thought that my something borrowed – my mother’s hoops – were going to make their appearance halfway down the aisle. Turns out they weren’t coming down after all; the gown was so heavy, it crushed the hoops against my legs!

  21. Jane says:

    We had an evening wedding. After having dinner with our families and the wedding party, they all headed off to the wedding hall and I went home to meet my hairdresser. Hair and makeup took longer than I had planned, so I was in a hurry as I drove down the road to the wedding hall. (To this day I don’t know why I drove myself — little flaw in the planning there.)

    It was April in Maine, and it had rained all day, hard. As I went down the main road to the hall, I was feeling a little weepy and wishing my late mom could be there and turning off sentimental music on the radio for fear of ruining my mascara.

    And then the power went out. I could see the street lights and signs flickering out in order down the road. At that point, it all became funny.

    Fortunately, there were lots of candles, and it was a really beautiful atmosphere. And the power came back on in time for the catering crew to clean up. But the photographer still refers to it as the wedding he shot in “available darkness.”

  22. Kit says:

    Great stories! A few of my own…

    – The wedding of a friend where the candles stuck in the greenery burned a little faster than anticipated – the MOH kept her cool and calmly patted out the little fires while the Bride and Groom were blissfully unaware

    – Best friend’s wedding where one of the groomsmen missed his flight and the wedding. Fortunately one of the groom’s oldest friends surprised him and flew in from another country to be there and he fit in the rented suit – just a little hemming and no one knew!

    – Not an out-and-out disaster but good friend didn’t have any sort of list of what family members needed to be in what photos so the entire wedding party commpletely missed the casual reception as different family groups (all uncles with birthdays in August! Now everyone who’s ever owned a green car! Ok, not that bad but close) were thought up then rounded up. I swear, I spent a full hour sitting on the side almost able to smell the food but everytime I got up to get some I was told “not yet, bridesmaids next!” We were NEVER next. Lesson learned – my photographer got a full (and very short) list of what formal shots we wanted and NO additions were allowed the day of unless they spontaneously formed themselves and used their own cameras.

    – The wedding reception that took place at a hotel I was staying in – it was apparently a case of too much alcohol and too little sense. At about 1 in the morning one bm said or did something that set off another and a catfight ensued which turned into an all-out barroom style brawl. This was in one of those hotels where the rooms all overlook the courtyard where this was happening so all the guests were out on the balconies adding to the din. At about 2 am I called the frontdesk asking what the heck they were doing about it and in a muffled voice (I suspect he was hiding behind the counter) he said something about waiting for a second squad of police to show up. After that I figured nothing that happened at my wedding could compete!

    – Fortunately my biggest disaster was loosing my earrings as well as my backup pair. Only two things I lost, go figure. And no one made sure that all my bags made it into the getaway car so we had to hit a Walmart on our first day of marriage. And I said “I do” too early – but that was just part of the fun. No fainting, fights, or life-threatening situations so I’m thankful!