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(Foot-In-Mouth Disease and Silly Mistakes)

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My sister Beth and her boyfriend Dan had been shacking up for a couple years when they decided to take the plunge. My sister, a decidedly non-practicing Catholic, had always wanted a big church wedding, but alas, Dan is not Catholic and he refused to get baptized or to raise the kids Catholic. At the time, that meant no church wedding. In fact, it meant that Beth could not, for love or money, find a Catholic priest willing to marry them at all! So they decided to get married in a small, private ceremony at the park, and had to hire a Unitarian minister who didn't even know either of them. 

I was not invited to be part of the wedding party, but I didn't mind. My sister and I care about each other, but are not close. She didn't have bridal showers, but I didn't mind that either, since she was already well-supplied with home basics, obviously, and she wanted to keep this as simple as possible. So simple, in fact, that there weren't any invitations -- she just said "it's at the park at 2pm on such-and-such date". I wish I'd thought to ask which park she meant! I thought I knew which park, but as I drove to her neck of the woods, and got to where I thought it was at 1:30, nobody bridal-party-looking was there, at all, anywhere. I panicked. There were 7 other parks in town and I didn't know where they all were. I went to the only building there, a warehouse-looking civic center, and opened the door. Nobody was inside, but the tables were decorated with lavender and silver bows and white tablecloths -- there were few other decorations, but I thought that looked like a color scheme my sister would like. But it was now 1:45 and nobody was in sight! I drove around for more than an hour, with a map, and found every single park in that suburb. Nope, nobody there either.

In desperation I went back to the first place, since at least it'd had a reception laid out. It was now almost 3:30. I got lucky -- I spotted Dan's mother and some other people I knew. I got out of the car and came over. Turns out the wedding had not yet begun. Why, you might ask? Because my parents, who were from out of town, didn't know where "the park" was either, and were also very lost! They'd split up in separate cars, hoping SOMEONE would get there. Luckily, my sister flatly refused to start till they got there. Mom showed up about 15 minutes after I did, and she called Dad, who showed up about a half hour later. Turns out they'd both been to this park first as well, within 5 minutes of when I had apparently, but since Beth and the rest of her bridal party were "running late", they'd thought they had the wrong park too.

Finally, at almost 4:30, we had the ceremony. The ceremony was held on a rickety wooden pier over a swampy lake, with trees around. I guess Beth had seen the place around summer and fallen in love with it, but now it was October -- the trees were naked branches, and the lake wasn't what one would call scenic. Also, Beth's dress was this pure white fairy-princess gown with a huge skirt, train, veil, flounces, lace, the whole nine yards -- plus high heels. On a pier. I told her I wished she'd go barefoot or borrow some more sensible shoes, so she wouldn't break her neck, but she politely refused (after the ceremony, she borrowed Dan's shoes, because she had, indeed, almost broken her neck in those heels). It was a bit weird to see such a stunningly expensive, traditional, formal dress in such surroundings, with her almost-informally-dressed attendant, parents, and guests, and with her decidedly non-traditional ceremony. Sorry, I never got pictures! Despite the snafu caused by the lack of addresses, everything worked out all right in the end. The good part was that we were able to laugh at the problems -- they certainly didn't overwhelm the occasion despite how bad they seemed at first. Beth and Dan are still married and in love, 10 years later, with a handsome son. Ooops0210-03

When my husband and I were married five years ago, a couple -- great friends of his -- gave us an iron. I had one going into the marriage, and thought, "Well, I'll just keep the iron in the box until mine goes on the fritz. That way I won't have a new iron and an old iron to lug around when we move." I wrote a thank-you note, conveying how much we appreciated the iron, and for their thoughtfulness and kindness in choosing a gift we certainly would need. Shortly after the wedding, we moved to another town and rented his grandmother's house while we built a house ourselves -- which took three years. As we knew we'd be moving, we stored all of our wedding gifts. It did not make sense to unpack and take them to his grandmother's house, which was fully furnished. Three years later, shortly after we moved into our new house, my iron broke. I thought, "Great! Now I'll get to use that new iron!" Imagine my embarrassment when I opened the box and there was no iron -- rather, a wonderful lead crystal pitcher and stirrer. I promptly wrote another thank-you note, and apologized for my faux pas. The funniest thing is, and I guess it's a testament to this couple's manners, they never mentioned the gift/my faux pas when we had seen them over the summers during visits to our town!

I recently attended a wedding of one of my cousins. The event was a very tasteful, high-class black-tie affair, and the bride and her family were attentive to every detail, especially as far as etiquette was concerned. I was therefore surprised when at the Catholic ceremony, the intercessions included (I presume at the bride's request) thinly-veiled anti-abortion and pro-war rhetoric. I don't remember the exact wording of the intercessions, but somewhere between the prayers for departed family members and my absent grandmother, who was unable to travel because of her health, we were called to: 1) Pray for our brave members of the armed forces serving overseas (Catholic leaders, including the Pope, have clearly stated that they do NOT consider the US's proposed war in Iraq to be a "just" conflict, but I guess that's beside the point). 2) Pray for the frail, especially the unborn, that our society will adopt laws to protect them (not surprising, considering the bride comes from a large Irish-Catholic family, but is a wedding ceremony really the place to bring this up?) I don't know if Emily Post has made any definitive statements about discussing politics at family gatherings, but I've observed that at most social engagements, bringing up subjects that may cause arguments or discomfort is generally considered to be in bad taste. Furthermore, it seems to me that a wedding ceremony, being a celebration of people coming together, is no place to bring up such divisive issues, no matter how strongly you may feel about them. While I disagree with the bride I certainly respect her right to her opinion. However I do think it was distasteful of her to use her wedding ceremony as a bully pulpit for her political agenda. I realize in the end it was her wedding and her choice, but she and the priest who presided over the ceremony really should have shown more consideration for all of the guests, regardless of their faith or political views.   Ooops0212-03

I had a very small, intimate wedding in the posh wine cellar of a local restaurant. The ceremony was limited to only immediate family and very close friends, so there were no more than a dozen people there, including myself and the groom - the reception later would host close to 200 people, but this was our special time to be shared with people to whom we were closest. Well, my horror story involves my best friend at the time, chosen to be the matron of honor and my sole attendant. She was a bit wild, and my family and his are highly religious and somewhat uptight; her (the MOH's) entire contribution to the conversation of the evening was a single "joke", well after she had imbibed too many. It involved a snow man and his excitement when he heard that the snow blower was coming. I shan't elaborate, but suffice it to say the entire excruciating moment was duly recorded by the videographer, and to this day I can't watch the tape without my eyes tightly closed at that precise moment, in memory of how classy THAT selection of attendant was.


I am the youngest of three daughters, and was the last one to get married. I had my wedding last August. We had a very simple, but beautiful wedding. After the ceremony, my Mom welcomed my new Husband to the family. Her words were, " We've never had a son in our family and we'd like to welcome you to it." My one BIL was a groomsman and the other BIL was videotaping the wedding. Right after my Mom said that, you hear BIL (groomsman) clear his throat, and everyone started laughing. What Mom was trying to say was that she only had three girls and no boys. We have it all on tape and still bug her about it, and now both BIL's tease my Husband and call him #1 Son! Ooops0215-03

My husband and I attended the wedding of a couple of high school friends several years ago. When the MOB was seated, I noticed that she was wearing a white dress. Unusual but I didn't pay much attention, until later. The ceremony was very nice. Pretty church, beautiful music and flowers and the bride was lovely. Then we get to the reception at the local fire hall. We had just taken our seats with the other friends of the bride and groom when the MOB came running past (and I mean running, she could have been in the Olympics). No greeting to anyone, she didn't say a word, even to family members. It seems that someone had forgotten to put all the condiments on the tables so she was in a panic. She ran by and flung a handful of butter pats at us and kept on going. It was as she ran away that we all noticed that she was wearing, under her white dress, white and black polka-dotted underwear. No slip, just underwear. None of us ever said a word to our friend, the bride, but the polka-dots were even visible in the wedding pictures. Ooops0301-03

Fortunately, I was not the victim of this, but am submitting it in order to prevent it from happening to someone else. Several years ago, I attended a rodeo (my kid wanted to go) at the local civic center. So far so good. Now this civic center is attached to a rather nice hotel. We left the arena via a skywalk that runs through the hotel. Unfortunately a large number of rodeo animals had been corralled in a parking lot under the skywalk. The smell was quite obvious. To cut to the chase, there was a wedding reception being held in a hotel ballroom which also was off the skywalk. I felt bad for the people at the wedding. If there's a moral to this story, it's be sure to find out what other events are going on at the premises where your reception will be held. Ooops0302-03

I am getting married a year from now but since I will be graduating from graduate school 2 weeks before my wedding, I've started the planning ahead of time. I was looking in the paper one day and found out that a Bridal Show was going to be at the local convention center. Thrilled at the idea of going to one and maybe winning some freebies, I called up one of my bridesmaids (my best friend "Dani") and my FMIL. Now I know it's strange to want your FMIL there, especially since this woman has a tendency to drive me nutty but she had expressed interests in helping me plan since she had never had a I was being NICE and letting her come with me. Well we are watching a fashion show and she starts talking to my mother about what to wear to the wedding and in the middle of describing what she wants to wear, she has the nerve to say, "Randy (her husband) says it's my day to shine." Whoa, that floored me...I thought it was MY day to shine since I'M the bride. And just as I was fuming, knowing that it would be safer to just be quiet, my loving outspoken Dani replies, "Your day to shine? Hell, I guess I'm just traditional but I thought it would be the BRIDE'S day to shine." Needless to say, I don't think my FMIL likes my best friend too much.... Ooops0414-03

Love this site! I don't know if this qualifies as an etiquette violation, or just an oops, you'll have to be the judge. In any event, it made me laugh then and still does now. My husband and I got married at Christmas time several years ago. It was a church wedding, and the church was festively decorated. We made an effort to include the celebration of the holiday season in our wedding with decorations, attire, the whole nine yards. We just got a little bit more 'festivity' than we bargained for! 

Towards the end of the ceremony the Reverend of the church included a wedding blessing for us. My husband and I were at the altar, hands clasped, having recited our vows; everyone else had their heads solemnly bowed. The Reverend was about three words into the blessing when something electronic, like maybe a cell phone, began playing 'Jingle Bells' somewhere in the front of the church. I found out later on that my sister, the matron of honor, started giving the evil eye to the groomsmen, wondering who had forgotten to turn off their cell phone, while the men were looking at the women wondering who had managed to hide a phone in her bouquet. Most puzzling to them was why whoever it was hadn't turned it off yet. The acoustics of the church made it very difficult to figure out where the noise was coming from. 'Jingle Bells' finished and transitioned right into 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer', and that was followed by 'Let it Snow' which played out in all its glory. 

There were only three people in the church who figured out where it was coming from before it finished - me, my husband, and the Reverend, because the sound was coming _from the Reverend himself_. We found out later that he had chosen to join in the spirit and wear a holiday tie under his robes for the occasion, and he had forgotten that it was musical! He had accidentally bumped it when he started the blessing, setting it off, and nothing could be done but let it run its course. The Reverend knew immediately what had happened, and tried to make up for it by raising his voice to drown the music out. The longer it went, the louder he got; by the time 'Rudolph' started he was positively shouting. My husband and I didn't dare look at each other for fear of laughing. We were both biting our lips, hoping to get through with some semblance of decorum. Had it been a cell phone or pager in a guest's hand, we might have been upset, but this was just too funny. The Reverend is a very sweet man, and certainly hadn't done it intentionally. After the ceremony, all of the attendants were determined to find the source of the noise and have a few words with them - they all thought it had been another attendant or guest, and my sister was particularly livid about it. Once they found out the truth of what happened, well, it's something we all still giggle about. For better or worse, it has become the yardstick for wedding gaffes in the family. Ooops0429-03

My then-fiancé Doug and I are invited to the wedding of Jim (one of Doug's childhood friends) and Carol. Since Jim and Carol lived in another state, Doug and I planned to fly down on Friday, attend the wedding on Saturday and fly home on Monday. Jim and Carol graciously invited us to stay in their home for the weekend.

The wedding itself was actually very lovely. And we had a lovely visit with Jim and Carol Sunday and Monday as well. But what happened on Friday night... Most of the guests were from out of town. Jim had been previously married, but he and his first wife eloped, so he had not had a bachelor party. Jim's numerous brothers (all out-of-towners) and several of his friends decided to take him out for "a drink". Of course Doug was invited as well, and I was left with Carol and several of her lady friends, who were all busy preparing the wedding favors. As the hour grew later, most of the ladies departed, leaving me with Carol, her MOH and one or two other ladies. Around 1:00 a.m., Doug called me, and told me that he was the only one of the men sober enough to use a telephone, that no one was sober enough to drive, and that he had no idea how to get back from the bar to Jim's house even if he were sober enough to drive. Carol and her friends went out to the bar to collect their drunken husbands/boyfriends, leaving me -- a total stranger -- to baby-sit for Jim's kids and a few of the other children. I didn't mind, considering the circumstances. But I really resented it when they returned to the house several hours later and rather rudely woke me up! Ooops0506-03

My fiancé and I were invite to an old colleague's of his wedding. We had just recently moved to the Midwest, and they were having their wedding in New Jersey. So anyway, I packed my dress and grabbed my shoebox. (I always keep my nice shoes in their boxes to keep them from getting dusty). Well I made a really big mistake and didn't open the box until we were getting ready for the wedding over 1000 miles away from home. My shoes weren't in there...only my black dressy clutch. The only other shoes I had were tennis shoes. I was horrified...we had 30 minutes until the wedding started...and I didn't have any shoes. Luckily my fiancé is an incredibly patient man, and being that in Jersey there are malls everywhere, it was easy to find a department store. I don't know if you have ever been to a Jersey Mall on a Saturday, but I've never seen such chaos. In the shoe department of Lord and Taylor's there were literally piles of shoes everywhere. The sales people who were working there were running around with their heads cut off. It was insane. I finally found an available sales person, and asked her to bring me any black dressy sandals in my size from the back. Thank God she had taste, and we arrived to the wedding with barely a minute to spare...and what an amazingly beautiful wedding it was...glad I didn't show up in Tennis Shoes. Ooops0507-03

Seven years ago, I was a bridesmaid at a cousin's wedding. She and her now-husband came to me very excited because they had just found this really inexpensive fabric for our dresses at a discount store. The fabric seemed to me a little too stiff and not soft at all, and it had a pattern of flowers of different colors, but I didn't mind. It was a summer wedding in a tropical location, anyway. The dress did not look good in me, and the hat I had to wear was not very flattering either, but being a laid back, fashion-challenged person at the time, I did not mind. It was a lovely wedding, although I got a little disappointed when realized that the groomsman that would escort me was about 11 years old -I was 18 at the time. (Since I am very short and look younger than my age, when we walked down the aisle I could hear people commenting on how lovely we looked together and some dare to refer to me as his "little girlfriend".) Six years later, as a young professional living out-of-state on my own, I was looking for new furniture for my apartment. Although I was looking for a plain color sofa, I found myself buying this cute couch with flower patterns. I was not until days later that I realized that the fabric of my new couch is IDENTICAL to that of my old bridesmaid dress! No wonder why it did "catch my eye". Ooops0512-03

My brother, who was 19 at the time, was asked to be the usher for the bride's side at my cousin's wedding. The usher for the groom's side was to be the groom's friend. I was to greet the guests as they entered the church, and also sit at the register at the reception. My brother and I were the only cousins on the bride's mother's side, so any relatives other than my parents were vaguely known to me, and, we discovered later, totally unrecognizable to my brother. Before the wedding, the two ushers had a discussion about how they planned to seat people, as both were new to this. The groom's usher suggested that they leave five rows empty at the front of the church, and my brother agreed. I assumed that they were using this as an area for the closest family. The church was huge (the guests only filled 1/3 of it), and since I was busy greeting people, I had no idea what was going on up front. The wedding was Ukrainian Catholic, where the parents and wedding party enter from the back at the time of the ceremony, so no one in a position of authority was aware that as the people came into the church, both ushers began seating them on a "first come, first serve" basis. Since my parents had come with us, they were in the fifth row, but people such as the bride's grandparents ended up in middle of the fifteenth. The groom's usher had apparently meant that the empty rows should stay empty. The bride's sister is the same age as me, and she had recently begun to date a new man who was invited to the wedding, who I was anxious to meet. As he came into the church, he introduced himself and I greeted him with much excitement. My brother witnessed this, and then the man jokingly said to him, "Your cousin said you're supposed to give me the best seat in the house". My brother apparently did not realize this was a joke. As the wedding couple, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and parents came down the aisle, they were shocked to find their relatives in a jumble, and the first five rows of the church vacant except for one lone man in the front row - the new boyfriend! Ooops0713-03

My cousin got married a few years ago in Houston. We stayed at a hotel that was across the street from a large mall called the Galleria, which has several hair salons in it. My mother is always complaining about my shaggy hair, so I asked her several times throughout the day of the wedding if she wanted me to go to the Galleria and get my hair done. She turned me down each time, saying my hair would be fine. That evening, we were in the bride's hotel suite watching the pre-wedding preparation. My cousin (the bride, you recall) was sitting in the middle of the room, with her hairstylist working on her. Suddenly my mom asks the stylist, "Would you be able to do something about her hair?" and points right at me! I was mortified! The stylist smiled and said, quite correctly, "I think I have more important things to work on right now." I got my mother out of the room and reminded her of my repeated offers. She could only sigh and say, "I know, you should have gone." And of course, I was self-conscious about my hair for the rest of the night. Thanks, Mom Ooops0729-03