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Faux Pas of the Year

Stories which earn the coveted honor of actually making Miss Jeanne bust out laughing or cause some lower mandible rug rubs.

Jan-Jun 2000 Archive
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Jan-Dec 2001 Archive

While a criminal prosecutor, I was amused one day to see on my docket an assault case that was alleged to have taken place at a wedding reception. Living in a city where cultures and traditions often cause wedding guests to drink too much, this was not too surprising - until I saw that it was the mother of the bride who was accused of assaulting the maid of honor!

At trial, we heard from the best man, the maid of honor, another bridesmaid, three wedding guests, and the father of the groom as prosecution witnesses. From the testimony we learned that the mother was not happy about the marriage as the bride was forced into getting married because of her pregnancy. The groom was the father. It seems the couple had held their reception in the groom's backyard - complete with several kegs and a few picnic foods.

After a few hours of drinking, the guests saw the "happy couple" leave for their honeymoon. The father of the groom decided that, as it was his son's house, HE now was in charge. To show his "power", he apparently told everyone that it was time to go. The maid of honor and the best man (an engaged couple) along with the groom's friends and family immediately started folding up the metal chairs, throwing away plastic cups and plates, and generally cleaning up and shutting down the party. The mother of the bride and some of her friends and family seemed to take great insult to the groom's father attempting to take charge of the reception as "it was the bride's family who was supposed to be in control".

The father of the groom's testimony showed that the mother had been drinking heavily that afternoon and was "popping pills". His testimony was that the mother of the bride began yelling at him for not showing her and her family proper respect and that she stated she would leave when she was good and ready. The father of the groom testified that he called the mother a few choice names and told her to move her (rear end) or he would do it for her. A wedding guest testified that some of the groom's family tried to get the mother to stand up and leave, but she instead lurched out of her chair and began cursing at everyone. According to this guest, the mother was approached by the best man (who looks like a bouncer) who told the mother in no uncertain (i.e. crude) terms that she had to go.

Testimony showed that the groom's side somehow got the mother to stumble over to the garage through which everyone had gained access to the backyard. From what the best man told the jury, the mother then began screaming how she was going to get even with the best man for this. Just then the maid of honor came out of the garage where she had been piling up chairs and ended up standing just behind the mother. The maid of honor testified that the mother turned, saw her, and swung her fist directly into the maid of honor's chest while screaming that she would get the maid of honor, too. Testimony conflicted as to how hard the blow was, but all the prosecution witnesses stated that it knocked the maid of honor over. The best man testified that he grabbed the mother's wrist to stop her from hitting the maid of honor again, and that he was attacked right then by the bride's family who pulled the mother from his grasp and quickly pushed her through the garage and into a van parked in the driveway.

The defense testimony was that a brawl almost broke out at that point. The mother of the bride tried to act like a victim at trial and claimed she was under attack by the maid of honor. She claimed to have swung at the maid of honor as she "feared for her life". (This is the exact statement that a police officer usually makes when justifying pulling his/her weapon on someone.) The mother claimed the maid of honor was "towering over her" while screaming and punching the mother. Her story began to fall apart when I asked that she stand next to the maid of honor and the jury could see that the mother was taller by several inches and was built much more substantially.

Frankly, by the end of the trial I was pretty disgusted with everyone involved for how they had acted, but the jury decided that the mother of the bride in fact had attacked the maid of honor and therefore handed down a guilty verdict for simple assault. After the trial I shook hands with the defense attorney (most attorneys understand that this is a job and not something we can take personally) and mentioned to him that I could not see the marriage lasting more that a few months. He chuckled and told me the bride already had filed for divorce. He told me later that they at least had not finalized the divorce until the child was a month old.  Faux0108-02

I am a pianist, and was hired to do a wedding. The bride's mother arranged the date with me, and a fee of $100 was agreed upon (I was still a teenager, so didn't know what to charge.) When I got to the chapel, I started playing a half hour before the ceremony. People straggled in, most in jeans and T-shirts. I thought this was odd, but then people started passing around cans of coke and beers.(!)

Now, this was a university chapel, with a strange layout. The altar was at the front, with two large picture windows on either side. I may have never noticed the strange layout with the windows, had the groomsmen not run around the outside of the building and started mooning the congregation. To many hoots and hollers, there were a few butts presented, but then they left. The mother of the bride was then ushered in, to many more hoots and hollers.

Enter the bridesmaids - including the disgruntled younger sister of the bride who dyed her hair fuschia to match her dress. And then proceeded to get a piercing that allowed a diaper-pin to go through her ear. Cans were still being passed around, but mercifully the ceremony was short.

When I received my pay, the mother of the bride (who had appeared mortified at the ceremony) wrote an apology letter for the behavior, and paid me double for the "inconvenience". I felt for that poor woman!

 We only seem to hear about them around Christmastime, but tacky gifts have been a part of my life for every gift-giving holiday. My relatives are the royal family of tacky gifts. There's nothing like sitting at grandma's house on Christmas morning with the family and opening up a gift to find out it's floral panties and faux pearls all in one package.

I think one of the worst offenders though is my mother. Christmas and birthdays can be a dreadful time because you know that even though you gave her a list of things, you're going to open up a gift and find it being something you're going to end up throwing or giving away. I once got, in an Easter basket, a book full of quotes of science fiction authors, on a variety of different topics, which would have been great if I liked science fiction and had a clue who the authors were.

Another time, my mother gave me pearls. I was in my late teens. Usually, you can't go wrong with pearls. I opened up the box and found a little necklace with flat pearls and pieces of pastel colored glass beads one after the other on the strand. She thought it was a choker that I would think was really artsy, but it was actually a faux pearl child's necklace that broke when I tried to put it on.

My eighteenth birthday got lost in the shuffle of a death in the family that happened two weeks before. So, on the day of my birthday, my mother rushed to Wal-Mart to find whatever she could buy me. For my eighteenth birthday, I got a Rubbermaid trash can and garbage bags - she wrapped the garbage bags! She thought, that it was at least something she could get me that I could use. The worst part is that I had to pose for pictures with my birthday trash can and birthday trash bags - which they have in a photo collection somewhere.    faux0502-02

A couple of weeks before the Presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore in November, 2002, we went to a wedding. The groom was the son of a couple -- we'll call then Paul and Carol -- who had been our good friends for over 30 years. (We met them when their son -- the groom -- and our daughter were in the same nursery school many years ago.)

Over the years my wife and I have gone from being moderate to liberal Democrats to being moderate to conservative Republicans and we knew that almost all the other wedding guests would be very liberal Democrats just like Paul and Carol. With this in mind and because the election was so soon after the wedding, my wife made me promise absolutely, positively to refrain from discussing politics with any of the other guests. I promised.

The woman -- let's call her Gail -- sitting next to me during dinner was Carol's roommate from college and she fit the liberal mold of most of the guests. She freely gave her political opinions on everything, many of which were not only opposite to mine but included derogatory comments about anyone who did not believe the same way she did. I nodded politely and kept my promise, keeping my mouth shut. Then another guest at our table asked who we were voting for in the election. Oops, there went my promise and I said I would be voting for George Bush. Well, Gail's reaction was the same as if I had said I wanted to go to her home and molest her granddaughter.

Needless to say, the conversation was a little chilly for the rest of the evening. About two hours later it was time to leave so we went to Paul, the groom's father, (remember, we were friends for over 30 years) to say good-bye, to say what a nice wedding it was, how much we enjoyed ourselves, and thank him for inviting us. But before we could say anything, Paul said to us, "I hear you are voting for Bush." (Gail must have rushed over to him after my degenerate voting confession and told him about us miscreants at his son's wedding.) We replied that "Yes, we are going to vote for Bush." Paul then got the nastiest face and in the most unpleasant tone told us, and these are his exact words, "That makes me sick to my stomach. I shouldn't have invited you to the wedding." We were so shocked that we had no reply but we saw a new view of political tolerance, long-term friendship, and father-of-the-groom etiquette.   Faux0613-02

Being from a fine southern family, we know all about how to give the best and most tastefully done weddings. It is something taught from the cradle to gentle young ladies.

Unfortunately my daughter lost her mind and married a Yankee. Thankfully he is dumb as a shovel of dirt but his mother was a different breed altogether. She suggested several months after the engagement was announced that we should get together; to talk about "The Wedding". I guess she thought we needed this because no one had mentioned doing anything for the occasion. Truthfully we were hoping if we ignored it, it would go away.

She arrived with foam flowers and balloon samples, neon blue netting, and many different favors from the Dollar Tree store. She had the beer list and wanted all of us to cook something and bring it, including the guests. I'm sure it was hard for her to see my expression through the black veil I was wearing because she never missed a beat. No matter what we said she insisted on doing things HER way. We tried to tell her that the wedding and reception were for the bride's family to arrange but she just kept on.

We suffered through all of this. Everything she bought she wanted us to pay half even though we neither liked or wanted it. Trying to keep the peace between my daughter and this woman was like running in a nightmare. Tears and polite pleadings didn't phase her.

The last straw was when we brought out the magnificent bridal portrait and put it on the easel at the reception. She loudly said,"If my son can't have been in that picture it isn't going to be here." This is while setting up the tables with our caterers and chefs on one side of the room and her home cooked food and beer on the other.

At the wedding our side all wore the appropriate attire for an after five, outdoor wedding and they all wore jeans or shirt sleeves. It was a nightmare.

This woman never misses an opportunity to tell my daughter that I tried to steal her son's wedding from her. She didn't even have a rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding which she could have gone all out on for her son.

Of course my daughter is now very sorry she ever saw this man and his family. We are careful to not say I told you so. She always has a home to come back to and she can sleep in her 258 year old four poster bed she slept in as a child. Maybe she'll dream of a nice southern gentleman.


I was 18 and my best friend, Christine, was 16 when she discovered she was pregnant. It was decided that Christine and her boyfriend, Dave, would wait until after the baby was born to be married; this way Dave (who was my age), could graduate high school and find a job, a place for them to live, etc.

Now, you must know that Dave's family was quite well off and considered Christine a gold-digger who had "trapped" their baby boy into marriage. The truth is, they were young and in love and just weren't careful. Dave's family had a real vendetta towards Christine, and tried everything imaginable throughout her pregnancy to convince Dave not to marry her. They got pretty down and dirty at times, even suggesting that the child wasn't his. Dave was adamant that he loved Christine and planned to be a good husband and father. As you can imagine, Christine's very young age, her physical size (she was VERY petite), and the stresses placed on her by his family made for a very difficult pregnancy.

Christine and Dave had a beautiful, healthy baby girl in June, three days after she turned 17. Shortly after the baby was born, Dave's "Uncle Danny" moved to our town. Uncle Danny was an odd character; there was something just "not-quite-right" about him. One day while over at the house helping Christine address wedding invitations, Uncle Danny said something particularly crude to me, out of the blue. I stood up to him and told him not to talk to me that way. As I turned to walk away, he smashed me in the head with a vase! A trip to the local ER followed, with me getting stitches in my head and suffering a concussion. Uncle Danny was arrested the following day. Turns out he had just been released from a mental hospital, where he'd spent seven years for smashing his ex-wife in the head with a baseball bat.

About a week later, Christine and Dave invited me over and stated that, while they still hoped I would attend their wedding, they thought it might be a good idea if I backed out of being MOH. Seems Dave's family blamed ME for Uncle Danny being incarcerated. According to them, I instigated the whole thing and he was blameless! They begged me, as their best friend, to attend the wedding as an "anonymous guest," and I agreed it was probably for the best. I felt fairly safe since I'd never met any of Dave's family except Uncle Danny.

The wedding and reception were held at the local Elks Lodge. Since Christine's family was not wealthy they cut a lot of corners, but it was lovely nonetheless. Christine's father, a cook by trade, did all the cooking. There was a cash bar. The decorations were simple but tasteful. Christine looked beautiful, Dave looked happy, the baby was content, all of the guests seemed to be having a good time, with the exception of Dave's family. They sat around with sour expressions, looking hateful and miserable.

About halfway through the reception, Christine went back to the "Bride's Room" to change into a tasteful pants outfit she had chosen for comfort. As she passed a table full of Dave's relatives, Dave's sister Patty (who was pretty intoxicated at that point) snarled, "Slut!" under her breath. Several other family members sitting at the table snickered.

Well, I gotta give Christine credit. She'd put up with this type of treatment for more than a year, and she'd maintained her poise and dignity up to this point. But, finally, the stresses of her young life caught up with her. She turned around, put her hands on her hips, and said, "Did you say something to me?" I was standing three feet away and saw it coming. Dave's nutty sister Patty literally FLEW out of her chair, knocking Christine backward into a table holding leftover food. This 26-year old, 200 lb. lunatic was SITTING on my 17-year-old, 105 lb. friend, trying to strangle her as 5 people tried to pull her off! The whole room was flying, punches were thrown, the cops were called...what a disaster! I slipped out, unnoticed, and called for a cab from a payphone down the street. I figured it was best, before someone figured out that I was the baddie that "framed" poor Uncle Danny and started smacking me around!

That was in 1987. Dave and Christine are still together and still close friends. They are the parents of four beautiful children, ages 15, 13, 8 and 5. Dave attended night classes at the local community college and is now a successful professional. Christine stays home with the kids. They have no contact at all with his family and, in my opinion, are better off without them.


About one week ago, I was at my best friend's house and I noticed on her dresser next to the invitation to mine & my fiancĂ©’s wedding there was a sheet of computer paper with a sunset design, and on it in quite small print was a "wedding invitation". Upon closer examination, I saw that the invitation was actually worded in a very traditional, formal way. That alone was pretty funny - I would imagine most people who chose a sheet of computer paper for their wedding invitation would probably phrase it a bit more casually. The wedding is being held in October at a local park and there is no reception listed. However, down at the bottom was a line that said "We are registered at the following: Target, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Dillard’s, the Jones Store, Famous Barr, JC Penney, K-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears & Wal-Mart" whew - this couple seems to have made registering their full-time job!

I asked my friend who these people (the bride and groom) were, and she said that she did not know them, the invitation had been TAPED to her front door! She lives in a large apartment complex and apparently the bride lives there also (my friend had noticed the woman's name on one of the mailboxes). She has never met them. We thought it might be some sort of prank. She kept it for that very reason.

Two days later, I was at the supermarket when I spotted the EXACT same sunset paper on a bulletin board there. Sure enough, it was the *same* invitation. I thought for sure it was a joke then!

Well the kicker came last Sunday. In our local paper, along with all of the usual (normal) engagement announcements, is a photo of this couple and the EXACT same words from their wedding invitation. Including the registry info. Right there in our local paper. Apparently this couple is A) crazy, B) desperate to make friends with our entire metro area - not a small town either, we're talking 140,000 people (LOL) and C) greedy.   Faux0906-02

Here is my tale of rude and ungracious behavior............

My husband and I were invited to the wedding of some friends. This is the second wedding for both the bride and groom. They are living together, and have a total of 4 children. Two are hers by a previous marriage, one is his by a previous marriage - and they share a toddler.

The wedding party will include all 4 of their children, and 8 attendants! It is NOT a small wedding!! A wedding party of 12, plus the bride and groom!

They are getting married at a stunning chapel in New England and it was my understanding that a nice dinner reception would follow. Now, please bear in mind that this wedding is in the FALL in NEW ENGLAND. This means that everything is booked for months in advance! It's nuts!

So, in July, I receive an email from the couple that directs their guests to a "wedding website". The email with the website link also mentions that there are TWO gift registries on the website. So, we find the website.....!

The website mentions clearly that the couple prefers "cash gifts" and "gift certificates" from specific stores. It also mentions that they would like "cruise dollars" for the Honeymoon cruise. In the NEXT breath, the site mentions that the "dinner guests" will enjoy a meal of prime rib (etc.) immediately following the ceremony (the wedding is at 3:00 PM and the "dinner reception "is at 5:00). The "other guests" are invited to a cocktail reception at 7:00 PM!!!

Oh, but it gets better! The couple add that if you would like to "catch some dinner", there is a "McDonald's down the way"!! I swear I am not making this up!!

So, this "cocktail reception" consists of a CASH bar and dancing.

Lets sum up, shall we? After SHAMELESSLY soliciting for CASH, this couple has bragged to all their guests that the A LIST will be dining on prime rib, etc. - but the B LIST is welcome to McDonald's if they happen to be hungry at dinnertime while they wait 2-3 hours for the cocktail hour to begin.

So, not only am I expected to show up and bring some cash for a gift, I then get to sit in McDonald's in my good clothes while the "A LIST" dines on prime rib? They couldn't even bother to provide the B LIST with food and drink! Guests get a cash bar and a DJ that was already purchased for their A LIST. But, please, everyone bring a gift!

The really amazing part is that they put on their website that they are "sorry" they can't invite everyone to dinner due to financial constrictions and that they hope we all "understand" and are not "offended'! But you had enough money for a 2 week cruise? Faux0731-02


There's more to this story!   The story contributor bought a copy of "Bridezilla - True Tales from Etiquette Hell" from this web site and opted to have me ship it anonymously to the bride just in time for her bridal shower.   I did so.    A week later I get an email from the book recipient telling me she is the victim of someone stalking her and I *have* to tell her who ordered the book or she'll contact the state police.  I call her bluff, inform the book buyer of what is going on and wait.  Sure enough, I get contacted by a Lieutenant So-and-so with the <mumble, mumble> State Police.  It seems the bride has filed a complaint claiming the book was sent by a stalker and he's been assigned to investigate. He wants me to divulge the name of the person who order the book.  

"Over my dead body, Copper!  You'll have to subpoena me for that data!" 

"Ok, I'll get a criminal subpoena!", he says.  Oh, brother, only a world class Bridezilla would view an anonymous gift exposing her bridezilliasm as some criminal threat by some evil stalker and actually get some poor lawman schmuck to believe it, too.  Maybe the book wasn't edited as well as we thought and reading it backwards reveals a sinister message of doom.

I never did have to reveal who bought the book for this Bridezilla to the officer but boy, do I wish now that I had included a few McDonalds gift certificates when I shipped that book.

I don't know how much of this is an etiquette faux-pas... we all know that each wedding should be original... however....My cousin lives on an island that is well known for hippies, flower children, and the like. In fact, there's not a razor to be seen anywhere near a leg or an underarm! She decided a few years back to get married to the father of her then 10 year-old child. He had come back into her life and wooed her but good. So she asked me to be a bridesmaid, and of course I said yes! I jokingly asked if shoes were optional... that would come back to haunt me like I had never expected.

The big day arrives. My uncle had come from the States with his wife and my cousin was studiously ignoring her future husband and her daughter arguing about breakfast when I came inside the yurt (I'm not lying! That's what they live in) and tried to stop the first train wreck. I was the only one of the bridal party there to get my cousin's daughter to have at least cereal! There was a lot of running around to do before the 3pm ceremony, so I borrowed the future husband's van, asking him if there was anything I needed to know about the vehicle before taking it away. Nothing, he assured me. Ok. Off we go to get the cake and the MOH and another bridesmaid, with the bride, her step-mother, and her daughter. We got the cake and the MOH and her daughter and went to get the other bridesmaid and her 4 year old son. We arrived at the bottom of the driveway where the hairdresser lived and being the studious driver I am, I put the park brake on so the decrepit old van wouldn't fall down the side of the mountain. We hiked up the track to the house and while the children bathed off days of grime, we ironed sari's (the dresses) and/or sarongs.

My cousin was very pretty in a navy blue tie-died two piece sarong with her grandmother's black veil on. Our hair was braided, curled, flowered (don't ask), and once we all looked like proper little flower children, we trekked back down to the van. It started, but for some reason it wouldn't budge. That's when my cousin pipes up with, "We never put the park brake on - it's broken." Uh huh. So there I am, kneeling on a knapsack in a sarong yanking on the park brake line to release it. 20 minutes later, we're on our way.

We're late getting to the house, but the groom doesn't notice. Oh, and the house is a pit. The bride had spent the previous week cleaning her friend's house and yard up to hold a wedding, but she let her 4 year-old son (who's still breast-feeding by the way!! I AM NOT lying!) mess it up again. We all arrive and take my cousin into the bathroom - a bathroom that I wouldn't be caught dead in... I'd rather go to the woods and use poison ivy on my butt than that bathroom.... when someone mentions that the groom needs someone to braid his hair for his top-knot. Wait, it gets better.

I volunteer, needing to try to yank his hair out while braiding it. He's wearing knee-high moccasins (one with a skein-dhu in it - the Scottish dirk), Kelly formal tartan kilt (he's not a Kelly), Fraser hunter tartan throw (he's not a Fraser either), a black velvet vest, and a combat bandana to top it off. He now wants me to braid in the eagle's feather in his hair. I swear I am NOT MAKING THIS UP! Apparently he had earlier shared an illegal cigarette with his future father-in-law, telling my uncle that if the marriage lasted 6 months he'd be amazed... Words fail me.

As I'm braiding, I ask him, "Do you remember me asking you if there was ANYTHING I needed to know about your van?"


"You didn't tell me everything, did you?"

"Yes, I did"

"No, you didn't."

"Sure I did."

"What about the park brake?" Of course, I'm reefing on his hair by this time.

"Oh, I would have thought your cousin would have told you."

"She's the bride! She has a few more things on her mind today, dopey!"

He apologized and off we went. The dogs were barking while the vows were being said, but that's ok - the 4 year old was playing with them. Later on, we were sitting around and I decided enough was enough. I'm a meat eater and all they had ordered for the reception was veggie pizza. I needed the biggest burger I could find! But I had to wait til the cake was cut. As my cousin went to go inside, the bridesmaid who lived at the house said to wait a minute. I noticed her cleaning up what I thought was doggie doo. No, I was wrong... it was 4 year-old son dooo!!!! Ok, bye bye!! I was outta there so fast, I didn't even have a piece of that damned cake! Thank God I wore my shoes!


At work, a number of co-workers were sharing various wedding and family horror stories. One co-worker had told all of us in the past how bizarre her husband's family was and this story topped everyone's. "Christine" and her fiancĂ© were at his mother's house and his mother told Christine that she had a gift for her. Christine opens the gift and it's a negligee. Well it would be strange enough to receive this type of gift from your mother-in-law to be, but it wasn't a new store bought piece of night wear. It was the negligee that the groom's mother wore on her wedding night!    Faux0812-02

Page Last Updated May 18, 2007