5 Women’s Wedding-Bell Blues

From “Do I?” to “I don’t think so,” five women share their strangest tales of wedding days gone horribly awry below. Heed these stories if you’re planning your own big day, ladies…

By Dave Singleton

ome women spend much of their lives dreaming of a fairy tale wedding. What will it be like? Will there be a handsome groom, luminous setting, and sheer perfection when it’s time to walk into the reception?

Well, hopefully. For some happy women, everything will go off without a hitch, but others aren’t quite so lucky. Recently, I spoke to a few
You can’t always control how sensitive information gets spread amongst the masses.
women who experienced their own wedding day disasters to find out: “What almost kept you from the altar?” From fire alarms that left their guests freezing outside the church to wedding dresses taken in two sizes too many to suddenly becoming the subject of “pregnant and walking down the aisle” rumors (despite homeland security-worthy measures that were supposed to prevent such intel leaks), these women made it down the aisle, despite facing a host of obstacles.

Their experiences had me howling with laughter — and, at times, cringing with fear. But in the end, “happily ever after” won out. For each of these five cautionary tales, I’ve added some helpful tips from brides who’ve “been there, survived that” on how you can avoid some of these wedding-day pitfalls:

1. Overcome with emotion… or food poisoning?
“Late morning on my wedding day, I felt absolutely ill, but was determined not to let it impact anything,” says Maryland resident Ann, 33. “I attributed my upset stomach to nerves, but it turns out that I actually had food poisoning from breakfast. I was in complete denial. By the time I accepted the truth (which was only after several trips to the ladies room and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol), it was too late… the ceremony was about to start. I kept praying, ‘Just let me get through the vows.’ I was almost through them, but then I had to clamp my hand over my mouth and race down the aisle to a bathroom. I lost it — and unfortunately, my gown was a casualty. It was like that bridal shop scene in the movie Bridesmaids (oh, you know the one!), except we were outdoors without easy access to restrooms, which were back at the club,” says Ann.

“My maid of honor finally knocked on the door; I explained what had just happened, and we spent 20 minutes cleaning me up and getting me ready to re-walk down the aisle. And let me tell you, that was the hardest walk I’ve ever taken! I was mortified. I knew that everyone knew. But, you see this ring? I am married — happily, I might add. My husband was a prince,” says Ann. “He told me after the ceremony that kissing me was like kissing a barf bag, but he’d do it again in a second. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!”

Tip for coping on your own wedding day: If you’re not feeling well, don’t ignore the signs. Delay as much as you need to (or can, if possible). And plan for contingencies like this, such as how you’ll get to a bathroom and who will help you with your wedding dress. “My bridesmaids and I are forever bonded over our newly created last-minute bathroom contingency plans,” explains Ann. “Our motto now is, ‘Save the bride at all costs,’ even if we have to surround her as all of us make a beeline for the ladies’ room.”

2. “Here’s the blushing mom-to-be… uh, I mean bride
“We were expecting a happy, sunny wedding,” says Californian Jill, 36. “We weren’t expecting a loose cannon to go off prior to the wedding march, alerting guests that the bride-to-be is with child!” But that’s exactly what happened to Jill and her husband Tim, who’d hoped to keep the news that they were expecting quiet — until Jill’s mischievous six-year-old nephew spilled the beans and loudly told a few members of the unsuspecting congregation that she was, in fact, pregnant (oops!). “The news spread like wildfire through the church pews,” recalls Jill. “Of course, it completely altered the tenor of the reception, which ended up feeling more like a baby shower. I had distant relatives trying to touch my belly through my wedding dress and saying things like, ‘Congratulations to the new parents!’ Speaking of parents, I hadn’t even told mine, who were in shock — especially to get such news in front of a crowd.”

Tip for coping on your own wedding day: You can’t always control how sensitive information gets spread amongst the masses. But to the extent that you’re able to act as your own PR agent, be careful what you say, where you say it, and to whom — especially if you’ve got big news to announce, or anything controversial that you’d like to keep from impacting your big day. Beware both adults and kids alike saying things that they shouldn’t in mixed company. Little children are notorious sponges who may not have a clue of the importance given to whatever they’re repeating to others. “At the rehearsal dinner, I talked about the baby with my maid of honor in the hallway,” says Jill. “But just for a minute — and we didn’t think anyone was around. Big mistake!”

3. “My wedding and husband were both thrown for a loop — by a horse”
“I spent a year planning a fabulous, fairy tale countryside wedding at a gorgeous estate in the fall when the leaves would be in full color,” says Virginian Jane, 37. “I’d bought an expensive Vera Wang dress. We had the best restaurant in town catering the
People keep telling me I’ll laugh about it one day… I’m not there yet.
event. My favorite local band was going to play. To top it all off, my husband and I were going to ride to the ceremony on horseback from two separate hills. We love riding, and it seemed so romantic to come together like that on this sparkling spot where we’d spent many fun days.” (Talk about a grand entrance!)

“As my fiancée, Christopher, was riding over the hill, a truck loudly honked its horn on a nearby road and startled his horse. Christopher was thrown, and I rushed to his side (as did one of our guests, who happened to be a doctor). We took Christopher back to the house and kept an eye on him. He hadn’t broken anything and didn’t appear to have a concussion, but the doctor advised us that he should rest. It put into perspective for me that all of the fancy stuff isn’t really important. We didn’t marry that day; he was in too much pain. Instead, we went ahead and held the reception for our guests… but without us. Fortunately, our wedding was small and almost all of our guests were staying over until the next afternoon. So we turned our ‘day after’ brunch into our wedding. The whole weekend was thrown for a loop, and nothing went as planned. But the only important thing to me was becoming Christopher’s wife.”

Tip for coping on your own wedding day: You can’t plan for an unforeseen event that derails your day, but you can keep up your good attitude, and remember what’s really important. And it doesn’t hurt to host an extended party weekend so that you have multiple opportunities to visit with everyone — and get things right — should your initial nuptial plans go awry.

4. “Here comes the…FIRE!”
“We were about to get married on the upper west side of Manhattan,” says New Yorker Leslie, 46, about the freezing Saturday in March she and her 52-year-old partner, Pam, had planned to exchange their vows. “There we were, both in the church and getting ready to start, when a fire alarm went off. Talk about chaos! It took an hour for the firefighters to arrive and clear the venue. Turns out it’d been a small kitchen fire in a restaurant next door. Meanwhile, we all stood outside the church, since there was nowhere for us to go just yet. The reception was at a restaurant in Soho. The only problem was that, by the time we got married, we were a little rattled from having calmed all of our guests down. Now I know why people hire wedding planners!”

Tip for coping on your own wedding day: Designate someone in your wedding party to head up your big day’s crisis management division. Whether it’s a paid planner, a member of the wedding party or a designated friend/relative in whose debt you’ll always remain, it’s smart to have someone else be put in charge of handling any “issues” that arise throughout the day so the happy couple don’t get mired down in dealing with problems when their focus should be on themselves and their commitment to each other.

5. “The only problem was that I just couldn’t breathe…”
“I had a bridesmaid pick up my wedding dress right before the rehearsal dinner, and it sat in my hotel room until an hour before my actual ceremony,” says New Jersey native Linda, 37. “Big mistake! My last fitting had been three weeks before, and the tailor suggested she take the dress in a little bit (which I agreed to), although it felt like it fit just fine to me. When I went to put the dress on in full makeup and hair — with no time to spare — it didn’t fit. The dress had been taken in at least four inches, and I panicked. I tried lying down and sucking everything in, then taking off all my undergarments to see if I could somehow wiggle my way into it. I finally squeezed myself in and felt like a statue. I couldn’t breathe! I barely uttered my vows. I felt so nervous. I heard the rabbi speaking, but all I heard in my head was, ‘This dress is going to split, it’s going to split right down the back…’ The photos are a disaster. My husband looks cool as a cucumber, but I look like an uptight sausage. The day passed, and I changed into a more comfortable outfit for the reception. But I am reminded of my ‘breathless’ wedding every time I look at the photos. People keep telling me I’ll laugh about it one day… I’m not there yet.”

Tip for coping on your own wedding day: Never wait until the day of your wedding to try on anything. Make sure your things that are old, new, borrowed, and blue are all in good working order the day before the ceremony, at the very latest. “I didn’t take enough time with what I considered to be all the little things, including scheduling an actual fitting immediately before my big day,” says Linda. Of all days in your life, you want to be comfortable on your wedding day, ladies.

Tune in next week for the other side of this story, 5 Guys Who Beat The Wedding-Bell Blues.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit his website and send your dating questions and comments to him at
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