Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


Main Page/Home

The Faux Pas Archives
Wedding Etiquette

Bridesmaids and Beastmen
Bridal Showers
Bridezillas and Groomonsters
Faux Pas of the Year
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
Guests From Hell
Tacky Invitations
Wedding Rugrats
Just Plain Tacky
Tacky Toasts
Thank You Notes From Hell
Tacky Vendors
Wedding From Hell
Wicked Witches of the Wedding
Perfect Bride
Bridesmaid Dress Incinerator



Everyday Etiquette

Baby Showers
The Dating Game
Ooops! Foot in Mouth Disease
Funeral Etiquette
Gimme Hell
Holiday Hell
Just Plain Tacky
It's all Relatives
Every Day RugRats
Road Rage

Business Etiquette

Bad Business Etiquette
Merchants of Etiquette Hell
Bad Bosses

Faux Pas of the Year




Press Room/Contact



They're armed, they're unprofessional and they're going to ruin your wedding day if you aren't careful.  (And stories of victimized vendors.)

Jan-Jun 2000 Archive
Jun-Dec 2000 Archive
2000 Archive
2001 Archive
2002 Archive
Jan-Jul 2003 Archive
Jul-Dec 2003 Archive
Jan -Jun 2004 Archive
Jul-Dec 2004 Archive
Jan-Jun 2005 Archive
Jul-Dec 2005 Archive


I was married in November of 2005.  We hired a DJ who was an old friend of a family member.  We were assured that he had a lot of experience and was very good and would give us a discount as we were almost "family".  During our initial meeting, I wasn't exactly pleased.  He brought his wife to the meeting and they both were, for lack of a better term, American Legion / biker bar kind of people.  The contract was hand written with many many misspellings and he wanted the deposit in cash on the spot so he could buy some beer.  I wasn't too excited about this but we were assured that he was a great guy and would do a great job.  Next meeting comes and my worries grew.  He never wanted to listen to my opinions and would just talk to my fiancé.  I told my fiancé at that point that we should make different arrangements.  With a little more than a month before the big day, we would be cramped and out our deposit, but I didn't really care.  Once again, we were assured that it would be fine.

The day comes and as with all weddings there were issues, the flowers were dead, miscommunications with the reception hall on table placement, issues with hair and nails, the normal stuff.  Things started to settle down as we were doing our pictures (which were before the ceremony).  I noticed at that time that the DJ was nowhere to be found.  Now this was 3:30 p.m. for a 5:00 p.m. ceremony for which he was providing the music for.  In our prior conversation, he told us he was going to be there at 10 a.m. to set up.  I was in a panic.  What were we going to do!?  Finally the family whose friend this was got in touch with him and told him in no uncertain terms that if he didn't get there right away they would have him murdered.  At 4:45 he showed up.  He and his wife were in black pants and tacky Hawaiian shirts that were unbuttoned 4 or 5 buttons…very attractive on a big man.  Gag.  He then set up very quickly, doing sound check to ZZ Top "legs" as our guests were being held out in the lobby.  20 minutes late, finally we got going.  Even though we had the ceremony on a CD, dinner music on a CD and then all the music we wanted for the reception on 3 cds, he managed to screw it up. We heard songs numerous times, he forgot about our special dances..etc.  I was in horror and not the happy bride!!  He and his wife spent most of the time out smoking!!   Shows that sometimes you get what you pay for!!!


This story is from my sister's wedding.  Her wedding was the first wedding we had in our family and my parents and my sister wanted to have a black tie wedding.  So my parents are spending quite a lot of money on this wedding.  

My sister looks at photographers and finds one that has good pictures and is in the price range.  My father really likes the guy.  Also, he is a freelance photographer for the Kansas City Star Newspaper.  My sister thinks the guy is a little strange, but since my Dad really likes him she says ok since they are paying for the wedding.  My parents do make the mistake of paying the guy up-front, which we found out you should never do!!

The day of the wedding, the photographer is awesome.  He is taking great pictures.  He is taking tons of pictures of exactly what my sister wants.  It was an amazing day and so beautiful.  Actually, it ends up that the owner of the building wants to use the pictures from my sister's wedding for the advertising.  

Well, after my sister gets back from her honeymoon she gets the negatives from her wedding and framed pictures she ordered, but not the albums.  Months are going by and my parents, sister, and her in-laws still do not have the albums.  My father is calling this guy everyday and nothing is happening.  

My father gets so angry he takes the photographer to small claims court, but the photographer has to be served with the papers and no one can find him.  My Father paid a person to sit outside the guy's apartment for a week to serve him with the papers, but the guy never shows up.  Apparently the guy has skipped town.  My Dad is going crazy because he is not a man that gets taken advantage of.  I think if my Dad ever sees this guy again, he might beat him up.  

Finally my Dad writes a letter to the newspaper about his experience and to warn people about this man.  He also writes letter to all the websites and publications that recommend this photographer to tell them they should remove this guy from their websites.  My father even receives a letter from "Judge Judy" wanting him to be on the show, but Judge Judy's people could not get a hold of the photographer.  

Eventually, another local photographer saw my Father's letter, contacted him, and offered to make the albums at cost.  Finally we all received our albums, but we are not allowed to talk about this because it makes my father extremely angry.  This experience cost my Father much more money and a lot of aggravation.


Before signing a contract with a wedding vendor, it's prudent to check the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any recorded complaints against the vendor.  When searching, try every conceivable variation of their business name or real name.  One photographer  I know has at least 20 filed complaints under three different business names.  Of all wedding vendors I've dealt with personally in real life and online, wedding photographers can run the gamut from being outstanding professionals to slimy con artists who should be prosecuted for contract fraud and theft.  A slick, professional web site and hefty fee is no guarantee the photographer isn't a sleazy con who will not return your phone calls and never delivers your photos/albums.  


I have a mild horror story of my wedding that, while it pales in comparison to some others I've read, still might provide a little perspective for impending brides.   A little (okay, a lot of) backstory:  To give you some perspective, my parents were married in the local Catholic Church.  My mother wore her sister-in-law's ill-fitting wedding dress, and the only guests were her widowed mother, the priest, the sister-in-law who owned the dress and doubled as bridesmaid, and my father's brother-in-law, who was also his best man.  The bouquet was picked from the front garden.  They had a cake from the local supermarket and one bottle of cheap champagne.  And that was it.  Total cost:  $50.   

My parents' proposition for our wedding was to hold it in the local JP court--yes, in the Judge Judy-like courtroom!--and get a cake from Randall's, a local grocery store.  The reception was to be in the courthouse lobby, right next door to the sheriff's office:  cake, Coke, no decorations, and no music.  When I called my FH, hysterical at what might look like a shotgun wedding (I was and still am very proud of my hard-earned, undisputed right to wear white at my wedding), he promptly came down to our city (a long drive, as he lived in another city), visited my parents and informed them that, if their concern was money, he could alleviate it; we could hold the wedding in Maine, in his parents' front yard, and we would have a barbeque reception--and my parents could let it be known that they didn't want to spend money on their older daughter's wedding.  My husband is a "gentle giant," normally not an aggressive man, but he knows how and won't hesitate when he feels it's appropriate.   

So we were given a budget of $2,000--a very difficult budget in the city where I lived.  I'm not one to look a gift wedding in the mouth, so FH and I quietly agreed that we would cover anything above that.  That was when I started living on coffee and adrenaline.  I looked for the least expensive options available.  The ceremony took place at a local country club, officiated by my MOH's employer (a federal bankruptcy judge), and the reception was held at a favorite Chinese buffet restaurant (which is always beautifully decorated, and the owner is a doll!).  The cake came from a lady who does beautiful cakes as a side business, and the dress from an online wholesaler.  (It fit beautifully off-the-rack, which is difficult to find for a tall girl with no figure to speak of.)   The wedding and reception went off beautifully, except for one hitch.  

My co-worker "Karen", a wonderful lady who listened patiently to my exhausted complaints and panic attacks during this process, referred me to a florist/wholesaler.  Mom and I visited her shop, and we were tremendously impressed by the arrangements we saw.  I told "Sally" that my wedding colors were royal blue, sky blue, silver, and white (which wound up not happening because apparently royal blue was not a fashionable color that year), and she knew immediately which flowers to use, and even recommended ways to work silver into the arrangements and bouquets.  She totaled up the modest number of arrangements we wanted, and it came out at less than $200.  Great!  We gave her the money and told her where and when.   

Comes now the wedding day.  I'm back in the ladies' locker room at the country club, getting ready.  My hair is behaving, my makeup is good, and my dress is frankly gorgeous.  My MOH (not my sister, who begged off because of severe social anxiety) suddenly vanished, along with Mom and my sister, and my DH's wonderful sunshine-in-law hovered around me, showing me the pictures she'd snapped of my groom coming into the club.  (Those are still some of my favorite pictures!)  When the other ladies returned, I sensed the tension in the air, and I wanted to know what was going on.  They told me it was okay, don't worry about it, they'd take care of it, and all the other usual noncommittal reassurances.   Well, they'd forgotten that I can handle disasters without turning a hair, but my overactive imagination will take over if I don't know the details.  So I started panicking, and I demanded (a bit shrilly) to know.  Turns out that the flowers, intended to arrive at 9:30 for our 11:00 wedding, had not arrived.  Mom had called at 9:45, to be told that, oops, the order slip shows they were wanted at noon.  Mom told them no, that they were needed for an 11:00 ceremony.  So here we were at 10:45, still waiting for flowers, and not knowing what was happening.   

11:00 comes and goes.  My FSIL goes out to explain to the guests what's up.  11:15 passes.  At 11:30, we decide that the flowers are not coming, and we're not going to make people wait any longer.  So we proceed.   Everything is great, even though my MOH and I have no bouquets.  But fortunately, I'd insisted on putting some lovely silk florals and silver Christmas ribbons (excellent bargain for a January wedding) on a wedding arch for the ceremony, so we had those, and everyone claims they didn't notice the lack of flowers.  Ceremony concludes, with no flowers.  Receiving line; no flowers.  Signing the license; no flowers.  Guests leave for the reception while wedding party stays for pictures; no flowers.  Bride and groom get ready to leave and realize that the best man left with the car keys; no flowers.  MOH returns, having left her street clothes, and gives the bride and groom a lift to the reception; no flowers.  It is now 1:00.  

Best man and usher return to the club from the reception to retrieve groom's truck so bride and groom don't have to hitchhike to their honeymoon; no flowers.   My mother tells me she called the country club the next day to be told that no florist appeared to ask for them.  She then called the florist to be told:  "Oh, gee, we got the wrong order."  They claimed that there just so happened to be a funeral the same day, in the same area (this Texas city is comprised of many a borough with its own name), and amazingly, the deceased had the same last name as my family!  They reviewed their records and told my mother flat out that they had no order form for our wedding!  (I guess "Sally" must have thought we said I was getting "buried," not "married."  It would account for the odd looks she kept giving us...)   

What's worse, they refused to refund the money, stating that they'd never received a dime!  That was a dumb move, because my parents had paid on their AmEx card, not with cash.  I guess they really must not have kept any records, or they wouldn't have pulled that nonsense; I often wonder how the little operation dealt with American Express falling on them like an avalanche.   This all happened a little over a year ago.  I'm still good friends with the co-worker who referred me (it wasn't her fault), and the wedding was still the best day of my life!  I'm so glad I have such wonderful family and in-laws!  (And yes, we came in under budget.)   

I apologize for sending you two separate e-mails on this, but after I looked back over the story I sent you, I realized I'd left out a couple of crucial pieces of information that otherwise make me look like a spoiled Bridezilla (which I have been assured I was emphatically not by many people):   1.  My parents offered to pay for our wedding, right from the start, because it is traditional and I had no money (being tapped out from law school and without a lawyer job due to overgraduation of students).  However, they reserved all right to make the decisions in this matter.   2.  My husband's major bone of contention was not so much that they were "holding out" on us, but because most of our guests were coming down from Maine--a welcome vacation for them because it is a warmer climate down here and they'd never been anyway.  He was not about to have his family come all this way to watch us get married in a courthouse and then stand around in a courthouse lobby eating cake and drinking Coke for an hour while the police fanned by.  He wasn't going to do that to his family--MY in-laws--and was quite serious that if this was the best my parents could do, he would take me to Maine to marry me.   I realize that fitting this information into the previous e-mail will be a bear.  If you want to use the material I sent you, please let me know so that I can edit it properly--and slice it up if you like into smaller portions.  I'm very sorry for not getting it right the first time.   Thank you for letting me vent! 



My husband B. and I were married a bit over a year ago, on New Year's Eve. B.'s mother insisted that we invite all members of the church in which he grew up (she posted an invitation on the church's bulletin board). So there were many people at the reception I didn't recognize, but the more the merrier, right? Three things went majorly wrong, though.

1) B.'s mother's friends paid for the caterer as their wedding gift to us. But we still don't know why the reception ran out of food, while there was plenty of food across the hall in the kitchen. I had to give my friends vague directions to a Chinese restaurant in the town where our wedding took place (B.'s hometown, not mine) because none of them had gotten enough to eat. But the "extra" food in the kitchen went home with my mother-in-law, and there was a ton of it!

2) A family I don't know asked our wedding photographer to photograph their family. Not just one photo, but a whole series of professional shots in front of some of the decorations in the reception hall. So my wedding album (which I took apart and redid, obviously) contains an entire series of family portraits of a family I DON'T KNOW. And in the meantime, our photographer forgot to photograph us cutting our wedding cake.

3) A woman I don't know, who attends my mother-in-law's church, told my mother-in-law in the months after the wedding that she had not received a thank-you card. I can't tell you now what she gave us, but I can tell you that I kept a meticulous record of all gifts received, from whom, and their addresses, and I wrote every single thank-you within a few months of the wedding--including hers. When she kept harassing my mother-in-law, we wrote her a SECOND thank-you, which she also apparently never received. At that point, we let it go, but she didn't. Apparently she is still upset with my mother-in-law.

There you have it: a small, mannerly wedding at which the caterer, the photographer, and the guests were worse problems than my husband and myself. It does happen. But then, don't get me started about my best friend's wedding....



I'm not sure whether this qualifies as a bad etiquette story, but it was certainly painful to suffer through! It just goes to show that bad etiquette cuts across all social boundaries.

My father has some distant cousins who are rich - and when I say rich, I mean extremely, mind-numbingly, incomprehensibly rich. When said cousin's daughter got married, the FOB rented out an entire hotel for a week and flew in guests at his expense from all over the world. Although I'd never met this particular branch of the family, my parents, my three siblings and I were all invited. Even though I was a little weirded out by virtual strangers paying thousands of dollars for us to attend, I figured that I should go. My father has very little family and he really wanted to be involved with his cousin's celebration. He also wanted us kids to meet his family and celebrate with them, so all six of us flew out there for the weekend.

What no one warned us about was the ministers. You see, my cousin is not only rich, but also extremely religious. Some people collect stamps or coins - he collects ministers who he financially supports and receives religious advice from. He had about eight hundred guests for the weekend, and at least eighty of them were ministers (with at least another hundred of their family members in attendance!).

Where's the faux pas, you ask?

Well, you see, like I said, there were eighty ministers present. And they all felt like they had to give a speech. Every. Single. One.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, and from then until we left on Sunday night, we spent at least 3/4 of our waking hours listening to these ministers talk. We'd sit down to lunch (which was, to their credit, a lovely catered meal) at noon. At four, we'd be allowed to get up post-speeches. At six we'd sit down again to dinner, and at ten or eleven we'd be done. Even the ceremony featured two hours of ministers talking, while the poor bride stood up at the front of the room in her heavy dress and three-inch heels, looking increasingly miserable.

Yes, it's thoughtful to treat your guests nicely, with fancy hotel rooms and plane fare and great food. But your guests are there to celebrate with you, not to listen to eighty different ministers make the not-so-subtle case why they should stay on my cousin's gravy train. My father, who had flown out to celebrate with his family, didn't get to spend any time with them, and the guests were falling asleep at the table left and right during the endless meals. A few speeches at a wedding are not just expected, they're meaningful! But EIGHTY speeches, most of which were given by ministers who hardly knew the family except by paycheck, is just too much to ask a guest to suffer!

The worst part, though, is that in all the eighty speeches, the bride was mentioned exactly twice. (Yes, I counted.) Most of these ministers hadn't even met the groom before the wedding weekend, but in the very male-centric culture of my cousin's family, the bride was treated like she was totally unimportant. I think I was most offended by the fact that these ministers clearly thought they could please the FOB by ignoring the bride, his daughter. That's not fatherly love or pride!

This etiquette-challenged man has two other daughters, but somehow I've always managed to be committed elsewhere on their wedding weekends. Perhaps that's rude, but I'd rather be in Etiquette Hell than in Too-Many-Ministers Purgatory.


My wife and I got married in NZ (she's a Kiwi), but since we were traveling Stateside the following year, we decided to have a reception for my side of the family (only my parents, brother, and one friend from college could make the trek across the Pacific). We decided to book a local venue because it was cost-effective, but also legitimately nice, even somewhat classy for a small town restaurant and tavern--if only the owners were as classy as the facade! When my wife and I arrived in town from overseas, my parents informed me that the deal with the venue was that it was ours until 9pm, but after that the bar would be open to the locals. I thought this was a bit trashy, and I thought that since we were bringing 80+ patrons to her establishment for the weekend, she could keep out the local drunks for a single night. But that was the deal, so I just let it go. 

But on the day of the reception, we discovered the back room of the tavern full of the locals (shooting pool, chatting loudly, playing darts, etc.). This was made worse when we showed parts of our wedding video from NZ, because the back section of the tavern was where the A/V facilities were, as well as appropriate seating and sightlines. Not only did none of the locals feel compelled to exit, albeit briefly, so that we could show our wedding video to our guests, they continued to play pool and so forth so that the video was VERY difficult to hear. The owner made no effort to work out something here, indeed appearing not to notice this--on the contrary, she was one of the ones making noise by joking with the barflies! Not only was this in extremely poor taste on her part, but it made my parents, who had arranged the whole thing, appear foolish for apparently not reserving the whole facility (which they had). Luckily some of the resentment here was smoothed over later when the guests and the barflies both got very drunk and sung karaoke together, but I'm still a bit bitter about it.



Bride goes into "typical" bridal boutique, of the sort to be found in every wedding guide. Approaches the nearest free salesperson, intending to ask for an appointment. Saleswoman turns, glances, says "Plus sizes are against the far wall," and walks away.

Bride then walks over to the far wall and begins glancing through dresses, which are all wrapped in plastic. A second saleswoman walks over, states "I'm sorry, we require you to make an appointment before you can look at dresses"-- and walks away!

Bride promptly walks away herself... out the door.



I recently attended the wedding of a friend that was beautiful right up to the end.  A tad of background information.  This couple "Bob" and "Jane" had dated for several years.  They ultimately broke up because of religion - namely Bob's.  He belonged to a very fundamentalist church that believed bigotry was ok if you weren't a member of their church.  Jane didn't want any future children raised in a faith like that.   I more or less lost touch with them and was surprised to hear they had gotten back together and were getting married.  I guess they worked out their differences.  Fast forward to the wedding.  The bride and groom were beautiful and everything went without a hitch.  Until the end.  The bride and groom, their attendants, the parents and grandparents all proceeded down the aisle to exit the church.  The ushers (members of the church - they were not part of the wedding party) then proceeded to close the doors to the church and stand in front of them - effectively locking the guests in the church.  

For the next 15 minutes the preacher tried to convert all the guests to his religion.  We were told how we were going to hell because we weren't members of his religion.  How we had to accept Jesus in our lives and we were going to hell if we didn't - and only his church could help us accept Jesus fully.  The final straw was his speech on what a shame it was that bridal dowries weren't around anymore because a father deserved something for raising a daughter - the not-so-subtle implication being that women were useless and a burden to their families. I was floored!    After his speech was over the ushers opened the doors and we were allowed to leave.  Never in my life have I been subjected to something so insulting.  If he had even couched it in terms of the couple - i.e. we are obviously important to them and they deserve our support in their religious life blah blah blah I would have been fine with it.  But to assume the people in the pews were there to be converted was unforgivable.  I'm sorry to say I will never attend another wedding celebrated by anyone in that particular faith - I'm afraid they'll hold me hostage again!



On to my tale of woe--luckily, this wasn't my wedding, but my uncle's. He (and his family) were/are Roman Catholic and the (now ex) bride-to-be's was Methodist. For their wedding they decided to co-mingle their two faiths in the ceremony, having both a priest and a minister. All seemed to be going all right (some snuffiness on behalf of the priest and a fair amount of "Popery!" from the minister, but they seemed to have a handle on things), until the ceremony itself. Picture if you will a full wedding mass, this was followed by the minister being first up to bat. He proceeded to announce where the Catholic church (in general) and the priest (in particular) were totally wrong on various questions of faith. Next up, the priest, who gave his rebuttal to the minister's points and then got in a few zingers on the Methodist church and the minister himself. 

That should have concluded things, however.... The minister bestirred himself again, rebutted the priest and began painting imagery of the "Whore of Babylon," all the while staring at the priest. Priest popped back up and started in on the pains of hell for those not following, "the one true faith" and drawing unflattering verbal descriptions of Henry the VIII and the various schisms that followed his establishing the Church of England. Long story somewhat shorter, 4 hours and 45 minutes later (!) they finally announced that uncle and wife were wedded. I kept waiting for the fist fight to break out or possibly a scoreboard to drop from the ceiling to show who was ahead on points.



Page Last Updated July 30, 2007