Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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My husband's cousin got married recently. None of us had spent much time with the bride-to-be prior to the wedding events. She looked absolutely gorgeous floating down the aisle on their wedding day. Imagine our surprise and horror when she turned around with her veil lifted at the end of the ceremony to reveal an enormous dragon tattoo (with flame shooting from its nostril) sticking out over the sweetheart neckline of her beautiful, white wedding gown! I don't mind tattoos, but I think this occasion called for either some body makeup or a higher neckline. Eeeww!

Ooops 0813/03

This is an account from a family friends' wedding back in 1995. My sister had known the groom for about 10 years at that point. I had known him since I was 7 years old. Quite a long time! She had introduced "Derek" (the groom) to a college friend of hers at a very large and prestigious college named "Lily". "Lily" and "Derek" hit it off quite well and soon got engaged about a year and a half after meeting in 1992. We were all invited to the wedding up near Chicago and my sister, "Maggie" was a bridesmaid in that wedding. Now, my mother, "Lana" is normally a very sweet and genteel Southern woman who usually doesn't mess up, etiquette wise.

However, with that being said, I happen to overhear her talking to close friends of Derek, Lily and Maggie. She said, and I quote, "I had always hoped that Derek and Maggie would get together but Lily is a good girl for him." Ok, first of all, you don't go telling people at a wedding that you had wished for the groom to have married your daughter instead of the bride! I was completely mortified and I was just pleading to God not to have anyone else know about that comment. If my sister had heard that, she would have been completely floored. I don't think she knows about it to this day even. Derek and Lily are still married and they are all still close friends. My mother is know married again herself to my stepfather after my own dad died in 1995, just about two months prior to that wedding.

Ooops 0826/03

The coordinator at our church told us this story. A bride and groom wanted to release butterflies as they left the church. The box was handed to them, but the butterflies had died in transit! They opened the box. Nothing. They turned the box upside down and shook it. Dead butterflies tumbled out. Not an auspicious beginning to their marriage...

Ooops 0828/03

I recently got married and I’m not sure that these are etiquette faux pas, however r I think that they are pretty funny.

My flower girl (5 1/2 years old) was so scared about walking down the aisle, despite the fact that she had been practicing for months and the proper way to disperse her flowers, she forgot to drop her flowers. She gets about half way down the aisle and her mother (my cousin) instructs her to go back, so she turns and runs down the aisle and starts over, this time remembering to drop her flowers.

About half way through the ceremony the priest asks for the rings. Simple enough request so we thought. The best man gets my husbands ring off no problem, my ring on the other hand was stuck. My aunt had tide my ring backwards causing it to knot when the strings were pulled. I am doing everything in my power not to laugh, as my entire family is shouting, I have a knife, I have scissors, would some one just cut the ring off already. So my stepfather to be, comes up to the altar and cuts the string freeing my ring. My husband and I spent the rest of the ceremony trying not to giggle.

These 2 incidents truly took the tension away and I just wanted to share them with the brides to be.     Ooops 0830/03

The wedding was a lovely, small scale, very elegant affair at a historic house in New England. We were all milling around in our semi formal attire, enjoying the hors d' oeuvres when a guest caught our eye. She was wearing a very trendy black dress. The bodice was sheer black. Here's the problem. She wasn't wearing a bra! Yes, it was all there for everyone to see. A few of us nervously giggled for a few minutes before someone decided that maybe it wasn't on purpose. So a kind hearted (and brave!) woman went up and told her. It turned out it wasn't some new style and she wasn't aware of the show she was giving. She went into the ladies room and reappeared later without the strip tease effect.     Ooops 0830/03

This one is short but sweet. My good friend had a lovely small wedding in a local park. It was a very sweet ceremony in front of a picturesque lake, with just close friends and family and it went off without a hitch. Only problem was the woman who came off of the nature trail, walking her dogs.

She saw the ceremony taking place and, instead of turning her dogs around, walked them right behind the couple as they were finishing their vows!! I took this picture of her. Enjoy!

I don't consider this a faux pas by the dog walker.  The nature trail may have been the only avenue for her to get from Point A to Point B.  If you have a wedding ceremony in a public place, it's just the nature of the beast that other people enjoying the same public space may inadvertently become part of the ceremony background.

Ooops 0830/03

A few years ago my husband and I received an invitation to a vow renewal ceremony for our friends. I had been friends with them as long as they had been married, so I was very much looking forward to the event. On the night of the ceremony, we drove to the church indicated on the invitation to find it completely dark without another person in sight. Being completely baffled, I grabbed the invitation (which luckily I had grabbed on the way out the door in case we had trouble finding it) and began reading to my husband "Yes, this is the church, yes this is the address, yes this is the weekend..." then I noticed that it was the previous night's date. I had somehow assumed that the date was a Saturday, since most events such as these occur on Saturday. Their wedding anniversary fell on Friday, so we had missed the ceremony. I still feel horrible every time I think about it.

Ooops 0924/03

Dear Miss Jeanne,

I had always hoped to remain a follower rather than become a contributor to your fabulous website. Alas, this was not to be. The story concerns my recent engagement. My fiancé and I had a very private engagement - basically an exchange of rings. We strongly believe that this is something personal, and although we shared the good news with our families and friends, we had no parties and no formal celebrations. My mother was gracious enough to take us out to dinner with the family, a night which we enjoyed and deeply appreciated.

Now all this happened while I was on leave from work. Both families were happy and so were we. Both my fiancé and I have been brought up to respect other people's wishes, especially vis-a-vis something as personal as an engagement or wedding and we thought (hoped) that others would do the same in our regard.

Well, that was not to be. When I went back to work, my boss asked to see the ring, said congrats etc. Then he said, "So where was the announcement in the paper?" I politely informed him we had no such thing, it is not something we deemed necessary and we wanted to keep the whole thing private. "So who blessed the rings?" was his next question. Might I add I live in a religious place (although I do not adhere to any of the beliefs) and blessing of the rings by a priest is fairly common, though not as much as it used to be a couple of decades ago. I replied that we had no such ceremony, no parties, nothing. "Well then," he thunders self-righteously, "then you have nothing at all."

I was floored. I forced a smile, muttered something about different views and marched out for a walk around the building, fuming. This is not the first time the dear man has blundered. He's made frequent remarks about my weight, happily ignoring the fact that he's at least four times bigger than I am. Not that size matters, but his attitude reminds me of the story of the pot and the kettle.

Thanks for letting me vent, I just needed to get this off my chest. Incidentally, my fiancé and I are very happy together and we are planning a no fuss wedding - I wonder what the boss' reaction to that will be ;-)    Ooops 1004/03

Love this site! Thought I'd share the one thing that made our day less than perfect. It was a small wedding, so I handmade all the invitations, programs, place cards, etc. (hand-embossed, gold-edged.. a pretty nice job, I thought). Instead of a Guest Book, I decided to do a large page that guests could sign, which would later be framed as a keepsake. It had our names, the date, a carefully hand-deckled edge and embossed roses. It was on a stand near the door, and unfortunately, I did not think to appoint someone to stand guard over it. Sometime during the reception, someone (a friend) decided that it was appropriate to add a small cartoon by their name. Others (presumably children, by the style) added additional cartoons in sort of a goggle-eyed Simpsons' style. The most notable looked like a devil or demon. Not the kind of thing you'd want to frame! They were all pretty ugly, and only the one by our friend's name was at all acceptable to us. In addition, there were names that we did not recognize - it seems children from a banquet in another room stopped in to our reception, and signed the paper!

To make matters worse, I tried to elicit an apology from my young cousins, who had admitted to drawing some cartoons. This only resulted in making their father, my uncle, defensive and upset that I would suggest they were out of line. His reasoning is that since I had invited children, I should expect and accept that they will do childish things. Perhaps he's right, I've learned the lesson to be prepared!

Ooops 1005/03

One of my acquaintances from high school was getting married during the summer about ten years ago. My best friend from high school was going to be the bride’s sister-in-law, so I was invited to her "bachelorette party" which was going to be a Jack and Jill keg party in the woods. That should have set off alarms in my head, but I felt sorry for the bride because she didn’t have many close girl friends, so I agreed to attend. During the drunken keg party at which I was the only person sober, she gushed that she'd love it if I could attend her wedding. My friend begged me to go to keep her company and convinced me that a night of dancing together would be great fun. I went home to tell my boyfriend, but he refused to attend the wedding. He reminded me that the guys who would be at the wedding were horrible people who constantly got into fistfights, got arrested, and generally acted like jerks each time we socialized with them. He was right--we stopped hanging around with them after high school because they had a different idea of fun than we did. He urged me to skip the wedding, but I felt obligated to attend.

The day of the wedding was miserably stormy. The bride and groom were getting married in a private ceremony and the reception was being held at a local VFW hall. I bought a card and put a generous check inside. I arrived at the hall about 30 minutes after the designated start time, placed my card in their card box located near the door, and then realized that the lights were out. The storm had knocked down power lines. I waited to see if they would get a battery-powered boom box, or if we would just hang out and talk. I walked over to get something to eat from the buffet while I waited for my friend to arrive. To my surprise, the mothers had packed up all the food and were carting it out to the car. I figured we must be moving to somebody's house. Nope. The mothers thanked us for coming and said that it was too bad the lights went out. Nobody was even offered a plate to take home, and the bride and groom went home to take a nap.      Ooops 1103/03

I very much enjoy your website and the stories. My wife and I were married nearly 8 years ago and the wedding and reception was perfect. One item that does stick in our minds however concerns my wife’s grandmother, who is now over 90 and unfortunately has dementia and does not recognize any of her family. 8 years ago she was much better, but still did not really now where she was or who was getting married. She enjoyed the day though as did we all.

The moment came at the reception during one of those moments when the room suddenly falls silent for no apparent reason. My wife’s grandmother had been chatting away when she spotted our DJ, who was of Indian descent. Suddenly into this general lull of conversation (during dinner so the music was quite low as well), came the exclamation, "Look, there’s a darkie over there!". General conversation resumed almost immediately.

(Please don’t think we are laughing at someone who is suffering an illness – at the time she could still carry on a conversation, and came from a generation in which comments and terms such as that were not considered offensive, although if she were not ill, she probably would have only thought it, rather than said it out loud. My wife’s grandmother is English, and I am writing from Australia where she spent all of her adult life).    Ooops 1115/03

If there is a musicians' code of conduct, this must be against it. The summer before my freshman year of college, my cousin asked me to play my violin at her wedding. Now, I am certainly no prodigy, but I play the same difficult repertoire as others in my age group. In any case, Schubert's gorgeous Ave Maria is well within my means. At the rehearsal, after having played this particular piece, I was approached by a young woman I had never seen before in my life. She proceeded to inform me that I "might want to tune it a little higher." This would have been acceptable if:

a) she were my teacher -- a wonderful lady who trained at Juilliard or someone else I trust

b) I had asked for her opinion

c) it had not become obvious that she was more concerned about drawing attention to herself than she was with my intonation d) she were not speaking to me in a tone of sugar-coated condescension, as if I were a small child. I was practically speechless. She didn't say another word to me for the remainder of our stay, which suited me just fine. I still have no idea who she was. My cousin was happy and that's really all that matters.

Ooops 1204/03

In the country where we live it is customary to give money as wedding presents. A box with an opening is placed at the entrance and people drop in envelopes with checks. My friend’s mom (a lady in her late 60s) walked into the hall holding an envelope in one hand and a credit card in the other, and then proceeded to drop the credit card into the SEALED box. Well, she raised quiet a racket till she got her card back. (The event was videotaped and shown on local TV). Ooops 0925/03