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Wedded Bliss?

The ugly side of saying I do

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Face it, we all secretly love it when the bliss hits the fan. That's right, all those embarrassing, uncomfortable, unbelievable and hysterically funny wedding moments that everyone spends the next year retelling to the great amusement of friends.

Whether it's drunk groomsmen, inappropriate toasts, backroom hanky panky or a groom with a broken foot after the ball and chain is literally dropped on his foot by his new bride, we love to hear tales of chaos.

They invade popular culture, serving as the premise for entire comedy movies filled with tents collapsing, rival brides duking it out, heinous bridesmaid dresses, bitter mothers-in-law, controlling mothers, falling cakes, bad wedding singers, and grooms with cold feet. And we eat them up, rolling with laughter, not just because of the absurdity of the situation, but because of the touch of reality in each slapstick moment.

We solicited Boise Weekly readers to send us their tales of wedding woes, and we weren't disappointed. Here is a selection of some of our favorite, well, we won't call them wedding disasters, but rather lifelong memories.

Mobile Reception

Boise resident Araminta Self and her husband made some serious memories 12 years ago when her aunt decided to take it upon herself to relocate the reception without telling anyone.

Self was thrilled when the parents of her soon-to-be husband's best man agreed to let them hold the wedding in their picturesque back yard that came pre-decorated thanks to a wedding held there not long before. But throughout the event, her aunt was less than gracious to the hosts and seemed to be upset that Self was getting married on her aunt's wedding anniversary--a marriage that had ended quite bitterly.

After the ceremony, the couple made the rounds, greeting guests, and the five-months-pregnant bride was relieved to finally get a moment to get a bite to eat. She turned toward what she thought was a well-stocked, potluck buffet for 50 only to discover the buffet table had been cleared--$600 cake and all.

"We didn't even get to cut the cake," Self said, laughing.

Apparently, when everyone else was occupied, Self's aunt had loaded up the food and hauled everything to a downtown hotel, where she decided she wanted the reception to be.

Faced with the need to catch a plane in a few hours, Self and her new husband, Bruce, said goodbye to their guests (and Self's mortified mother) and made a pit stop at McDonald's--still in their wedding duds.

"I had some smiles when I walked in," Self said of hitting the fast-food chain while in a big white dress, adding that she ordered a salad.

Four years later, Self and her husband finally got their reception on a family cruise--sans aunt, of course--but to this day, any family gathering is kicked off with the phrase, "hide the food."

Find the Wedding, If You Can

Amanda and Brian Anderson's challenge was just getting the ceremony to take place. The couple had been together since high school, and when they decided to make it official, they planned their perfect rustic mountain wedding, renting out Warm Lake Lodge for an October ceremony.

And while she bought her dress to complement the color of the fall aspen trees, there wasn't anything Amanda could do about the raging forest fires of that summer. In July--despite Amanda's best encouragement of her wildland-firefighting fiance to save their venue--the fire burned all the way to the edge of the lodge. Scorched aspens probably weren't what she had in mind.

Try as she might, Amanda couldn't reach anyone associated with the lodge (or her deposit) and then heard on the news that the lodge was closing down for good. The news came as she was sitting in Bardenay, and the otherwise laid-back bride admitted she kind of lost it at that moment. It wasn't until September that she was able to reach anyone and reclaim her deposit.

While a hasty change of venue moved the event to her uncle's back yard, that still wasn't why the Andersons had a hard time getting the word out. Not long after she had sent out the invitations, Amanda started receiving empty envelopes, then entire boxes from the Post Office containing bits and pieces of her invitations. Turns out, despite the extra glue she had added, her invitations dissolved in the mail, leaving various bits of paper floating through the system.

While the couple has been happily married for more than two years, they still hear comments from family members who think they weren't invited to the wedding.

Where's the Bride?

Amanda Sandmeyer might have just been happy to have been included in the ceremony at her wedding.

Turns out, the minister performing the ceremony was an old family friend who might have been a little bit nervous, considering he had dated Sandmeyer's cousin years before and that cousin's mother was sitting in the audience.

As Sandmeyer and her father were on the sidelines, waiting for the music to start, she realized the minister was talking. Her father assured Sandmeyer that the minster was just greeting the guests, but he kept going.

The minister had gone on for five minutes before Sandmeyer could get her sister's attention, at which point the maid of honor leaned over and told the minister, "I think the bride might want to be here for this."

Pro Disasters

But in the wide world of possible wedding disasters, no one has seen more craziness than wedding coordinators. These are the professionals we amateurs turn to in order to predict all those little things that can go so terribly, terribly wrong.

But no matter how much experience a wedding coordinator has, things are still going to happen--that's what you get when you mix high emotions, stress, family and alcohol.

Most wedding coordinators were reticent to talk about any of the crazy, chaotic or unbelievable things they have witnessed. But, with a whole lot of coaxing, we finally got a few to spill the beans ... with promises of confidentiality.

Covering a source's identity is a small price to pay to learn about the wedding cake that never showed up and had to be replaced at the last minute via a trip to Costco, or the entire bridal party whose dresses were made in the wrong sizes, a fact that was discovered the day before the wedding.

We did feel a little bad for the bride who, thanks to a stress-induced diet, hadn't eaten much of anything all week and nearly fainted during the ceremony, then spent most of the reception lying down, away from her guests.

Some disasters sound more like things pulled directly from the script of a really bad soap opera. Take, for example, the couple whose best man and matron of honor (who were married) announced their divorce just a few weeks before the wedding. While some last-minute adjustments were made to keep people apart as much as possible, no one could have predicted that the reason for the split was that the best man had been fooling around with another woman, who just happened to be one of the other bridesmaids. It might be safe to say that the communal feeling of good will and love was a little overshadowed at that reception.

Or, there was the instance of the bride who got a little too tipsy at the reception. That in itself is not entirely unheard of, but when she failed to get the response she wanted to the money dance (during which guests fork over some cash to dance with the bride or groom), she grabbed the microphone from the DJ and started berating the guests about how much money had been spent on the wedding, then blackmailing specific guests, pointing out how much she had spent attending their weddings and demanding more cash. Unfortunately, the DJ kept egging the situation on, undoubtably leading to the painful hangover/shame spiral combo.

One wedding coordinator found herself in a very delicate position after chairs broke under the bride, her maid of honor and the bride's uncle. Turns out, each surpassed the chairs' 350-pound weight limit, leaving the coordinator wondering how to possibly broach that topic in the future with other brides-to-be.

But even those who make it through the ceremony and the reception aren't necessarily in the clear. One set of happy newlyweds headed out to their car after the reception, surrounded by friends and family who wanted to give them a big send-off. The bridesmaids had even decorated the car but, unfortunately, they failed to remember to lock the door when they were done. As the bride and groom were about to make their grand exit, they discovered that a homeless man had decided their back seat looked like a good place to take a nap. It took a call to the police to get him to relinquish his resting spot.

Avoiding Disaster

So, how do those planning their own weddings avoid the type of craziness that lives eternally in the believe-it-or-not files? The pros advise using their services. While some DIY projects may sound appealing, those in the biz say they might not be worth either the expense or the stress. Also, plan ahead, don't start any project less than three weeks before the event. And remember, usually you get what you pay for.

We suggest just going with the flow because regardless of how much planning goes into the event, something is going to happen. Your challenge is to be able to laugh along with everyone else, because sometimes you're just going to end up cakeless with a stranger in your back seat.

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