Wedding-Day Fiascos

Weddings: Love ’em or hate ’em, they often make for a good story—especially when things go wrong! To celebrate Marla Cooper’s entertaining debut mystery, Terror in Taffeta (in which things go really, really wrong) we’re sharing a few of our favorite real-life “I do’s.”

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

My daughter is a traditionalist, and she’d dreamed of a wedding on the lovely island of Martha’s Vineyard, a two-hour ferry trip from the coast of Cape Cod, since she was a kid. She chose the perfect groom, the perfect dress from Priscilla of Boston, and the perfect spot for the ceremony: a remote, ivy-covered inn overlooking the water, with climbing roses everywhere. All the wedding plans came together swimmingly, and the photographer arrived an hour before the limo was due to take those oh-so-candid getting-dressed photos.

That’s when we discovered one of the teenaged bridesmaids (a relative) had left her full-length, satin J.Crew dress–and her custom-dyed pumps–back in Boston. All she had with her were the tee-shirt and gym shorts she’d just worn to the beach. The only thing that fit her (sort of) was the casual sundress my daughter had worn the night before to the rehearsal dinner barbecue. Oh, and the girl’s own sandy flip-flops. The bride’s paternal grandmother had to be sedated, but all else went well and we did get some unique bridal party photos for the wedding album.

Keenan Powell

(Author of the Maeve Malloy mystery series)

What a great premise! I must confess, I was once the Mother of the Bride. I had a lovely wedding planned in an elegant venue here in Anchorage, Alaska. The groom and bride got so wound up they called the wedding off, canceled the venue and then reconciled. So — I’m not making this up — we had the wedding in a soccer field edged with brown bear scat and in the middle of the reception, a baby moose came screaming through with eyes like saucers. Everyone’s heads swiveled to the direction from which he came, waiting for the bear that was chasing him. It didn’t come. And the cake showed up five hours late. There’s more, but discretion is the better part of something…

Marla Cooper

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So if you know anything about Austin, you know it’s hot. Like melt-your-face off hot. So when a friend of mine said she was getting married — outdoors — in July, I knew we were going to be sticky and sweaty, and I was just relieved I wasn’t a bridesmaid so I could wear a cotton sundress. The wedding took place in a park known for the beautiful peacocks strolling the grounds, and right when the minister asked if anyone knew any reason why the couple should not be wed, the peacock let out an ungodly screech. Then another. Then another. We all laughed nervously, but the wedding continued. Later, when we moved to the patio where the reception was set up, the frosting on the cake had started to liquefy and was sliding down the side of the cake. On the upside, I bet they got a really good deal on the venue rental!


Ellen Byron


My mother’s family is Italian, and Italians love their weddings. There was a period in the Eighties when the family seemed to compete to see who could throw the most over-the-top, lavish celebration. Mom’s cousins Pauly and Ralphie owned the Astoria Catering Manor at the time, so when Pauly’s daughter got engaged, she and her fiance sat at the head of the room in heart-shaped thrones as mimes danced to the song “Memory” from Cats. This was followed by a fifteen-minute set from a comedian and a blessing from the Pope. And this was an engagement party.

But the prize goes to my cousin Franky and his bride Lynn, whose wedding was such an extravaganza that I actually wrote a play about it, The Quando Si Sposa Fund, or, So When You Get Married… The bride’s dress was at least thirty pounds of sequins and rhinestones, and would have been deemed too gaudy for a Vegas showgirl. The cocktail hour went on for two hours and featured an oyster bar and omelette chef, in addition to I don’t know how many carving stations. We waddled into the main banquet room, where the first course was introduced by the singer of the umpteen-piece wedding band announcing, “Ladies and Gentleman, it’s time for… the Caesar Salad!” At which point, a dozen waiters came out juggling peppermills alone and together in various routines to the theme from “Rocky.”

The main course was served at midnight, followed by wedding cake, followed by… Viennese Hour. Which, like the Cocktail Hour, lasted two hours and in addition to an endless table of pastries, featured an ice cream sundae bar and a cotton candy machine. My mother muttered, “What’s going to happen next?”  To which my uncle responded, “They’re going to shoot the bride out of a cannon.” He wasn’t far off. The evening ended with a fireworks display over the Bronx marina that rivaled the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks in grandiosity.

I really, really miss those weddings.

So, readers, we know some of you probably have some pretty good stories of your own. Let’s hear them in the comments below!

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9 thoughts on “Wedding-Day Fiascos

  1. Our wedding day was decidedly low key, but it got even “lower” than we planned.

    It was the second marriage for both of us, and we had a city courthouse “I now pronounce you man and wife. That’ll be $25 please. Next!” wedding.

    We went home, had dinner. A friend was babysitting my kids. She went to the grocery store and got a “birthday” cake where they scraped off the “birthday” and piped in “wedding.”

    Then I fed the baby and got the kids to bed. We had a bottle of wine.

    The doorbell rang. A friend of my new husband was distraught. His wife had left him. And taken the cat. Did we think she was coming back? He was a basket case, and it was obvious that he shouldn’t be left alone.

    Finally, a little after midnight, I went to bed. By myself. I had to get up with the baby in the morning.

    Despite that dubious start, we are looking at celebrating our 41st anniversary this spring.

    Kathleen Rockwood
    Jesse Damon Crime Novels

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love this, Kathleen! And the best part is, it has such a happy ending. (Hopefully for your friend, too.)


    2. I think that *is* the most low-key wedding I’ve ever heard of! And proof that you don’t need a fancy wedding to have a long, happy marriage. Congratulations!!


  2. I was reading Ellen’s when I realized I could match it. No, not my own first wedding or my second. Not my son’s big Jewish wedding in New Jersey, but his big Catholic wedding in Manila (same son, same bride). First, we flew to the Philippines (6 months after 911, a story in itself). It was a traditional wedding, The Works, with added local touches–matching bridesmaids and an equal number of older “sponsors,” all dressed in periwinkle…bride and groom wrapped not only in a lace shawl but in a silver chain at one point to symbolize the bonds of matrimony…a pair of white doves released–they were supposed to fly, but they had other ideas… And when we were all seated for dinner (at the swank Manila Hotel, which you’ve probably seen in movies), there was a clash of cymbals, and a loudspeaker announced: “The Soup Parade!” And in came a procession of waiters in black tie bearing tureens… I love my daughter-in-law, she’s a wonderful mother to my two precious granddaughters, and she’d be appalled if she knew the memories of her wedding that I cherish most are the parts I still find hilarious.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I LOVE this story! We’re fans of soups and stews, so I think I should go get some cymbals to properly herald their arrival. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


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