Uh-oh! We hate to break it to you, but whether your bridal bun is more Bride of Frankenstein or the wedding party's limo never arrives, wedding day disasters can—and do—happen. But as the Brides October/November 2016 issue proves, brides-to-be can survive any catastrophe (trust us!). In our latest issue, real and very brave brides are sharing their wedding nightmares. These major mishaps might have you clutching your pearls, but don't worry—everyone still had their happily ever after. See? Brides can handle anything! Still don't believe us? Read one of the catastrophic wedding day tales below.
"Wow," said my cousin Jen, putting her arm around me. "How much did it cost to get a waterfall at your wedding?" Friends, it wasn't a waterfall. It was a pure, driving rain that had broken through our pristine white wedding tent and was pouring onto the dance floor, threatening to ruin the night and send 243 people out into a storm and back to their B&Bs.
Flashback to 10 months earlier: Jake and I got engaged under a weeping willow along the Seine in Paris, and I pledged to be the most chilled-out bride in the history of brides. We weren't even going to throw a wedding, per se, just a wild, carefree celebration of us, and how happy we make each other, at my in-laws' house at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains.
The day before our wedding, as I was double-checking the seating chart against the master guest list, I thought back to that Paris pledge and laughed at my naïveté. Because once we wrote that guest list, which topped 250 people, all of whom would want to eat, drink, sit, and dance, we realized we were planning not only a wedding, but a big one. And if we were going to ask all those souls to schlep out to rural Massachusetts, we wanted to make it worth their while. They deserved welcome baskets stuffed with locally tapped maple syrup and a hand-drawn map of the area. They deserved linen napkins in our signature apricot color.
The morning of our wedding was sunny. But Jake called from the wedding site, a.k.a. his parents' backyard, saying that the rental company had built a quick tent for the ceremony, just in case. "But it's beautiful out!" I protested. Jake agreed, then explained, with his typical patience, that there was a good chance of rain. "But that's not how I pictured it!" I whined.
"That's not how I pictured it" went through my head at least 20 times during the first hours of my wedding: When the caterer set up the cheese table in the dining room instead of on the patio. When guests started using the bathroom inside the house. When my bridesmaids' apricot pashminas became umbrellas against the misting rain. Every time I looked up at the ominous sky, silently pleading for a break in the clouds.
As my nerves built, so did those clouds. Just as the last guest filed into the enormous tent in the middle of the field, the sky opened up and I felt my own tension break. It was pouring. What was there left to do but accept it? I sidled up to the bar and looked around. People were laughing and smiling, grateful to be inside and dry, and talking more loudly in order to be heard above the pounding rain. The vibe, in other words, had changed from ominous to electric.
Speaking of electricity. When my brother-in-law, Teddy, started his hilarious speech, lightning struck the tent and the lights blinked. "Don't touch the poles," he said, which got a big laugh. "No, really. Do not touch these poles." As the night wore on, I spotted drenched cousins and friends and assumed they'd braved the elements to reach the rather elegant port-a-potties. Later, I learned that many guests were leaving the tent for another reason: Our friends were having sex in the barn, in the pool house, in the forest, in those (ridiculously upscale) port-a-potties, and even on the shuttle bus. The storm had made the party permissive, rendering our country-chic affair more raucous and causing people to let their (wet) hair down. Would all that debauchery have happened if the rain hadn't turned everything up to 11? I really don't think it would've.
And that impromptu waterfall? It happened somewhere around 9 p.m.—after the rustic Italian dinner but before the blueberry pie—and elicited a big cheer as everyone danced right through it. Bottoms up, I thought, and I finished my blush-colored Japanese beer (chosen to match the wildflower bouquets). We stepped off the dance floor as someone from the rental company patched the rip and mopped up the water. Aside from one sprained ankle, no harm was done.
There's an old proverb that says rain at a wedding is good luck because a wet knot is harder to undo. It poured on my grandparents' wedding day too. They lived a long, happily married life, sleeping all that time in a full-size bed; they couldn't bear being even inches apart. I wondered if my grandmother had been disappointed on their day or if the rain had made their night more fun. Because after we'd spent months obsessing over the menu, the linens, and the lemon-thyme centerpieces, in the end, it was something we couldn't ever plan—that pouring, soaking rain—that made our wedding a wild, carefree celebration of Jake and me and how happy we make each other.