Photography by Aspen Zettel.
From misplaced rings to over-imbibed groomsmen to delivery of 300 wilted roses (true story), there’s nary a wedding that doesn’t see a snag in the tulle. It’s when that snag spirals into an all-out run, or gaping hole, that things become memorable.
The big day is imbued with so much build-up, so much pressure of family and future, that those everything-should-be-perfect notions don’t always work out. These are your “it’s funny now” stories – our readers delivered some zingers, and we thank you.
Christine McCourt-Reid and Stuart Reid threw a stag/stagette party three weeks before their wedding. It was a “bridal revival” party; everyone wore old wedding or bridesmaids dresses or tuxes. At 100 guests, it was a wedding-sized party itself. There was a dancefloor. And a photobooth.
As she hammed for the camera with her pals, Christine heard the DJ start playing “We No Speak Americano,” and couldn’t resist. She sprinted to the dance floor with such fervour, that she ruptured her Achilles tendon.
“I’m a klutz, so it’s not news to anyone that I would fall down,” says McCourt-Reid, a member of Avenue’s 2012 Top 40 Under 40 class. “There was a doctor at the party, two physiotherapists, and a nurse. They put my leg up on a chair and on ice and I kept enjoying the party.”
As it turned out, her recovery from a torn Achilles tendon would take emergency surgery and months to heal. It dawned on her that she wouldn’t walk down the aisle at her wedding; she wouldn’t be on her feet at all.
But, thanks to help, she made it work: The wedding planner started emailing pictures of brides in crutches and wheelchairs. Her sister-in-law embellished Christine’s cast with antique brooches. The florist made a wreath to hold a “Just Married” sign made by the wedding designer, complete with clanking pop cans, to tie to the back of her wheelchair. It was the groom who had to bear the brunt of extra work.
“He was having to wait on me hand and foot because I was bedridden for a while,” McCourt-Reid explains. “Literally, when we said our vows for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, we were pretty much living it at the time.”
The only thing missing was the couple’s first spin on the floor together, but they made light of it.
“As I said in my speech that night: We all know what happened the last time I tried to dance.”
Erin and Duane Clipsham got rained out of their outdoor venue back in 2005, when Calgary was socked with 65 millilitres of rain in a single day. It was a complete deluge from the early hours of morning, when one bridesmaid’s car was swallowed by water in the salon parking lot.
The groom and his cohort hurried to a community hall to set up an impromptu chapel. Just as the ceremony was about to begin, fire alarms in the hall started to go off. Loudly. The officiant advised them to get on with it.
“So down the aisle I went with fire bells and a harp playing,” Erin says. Just as she took a breath to say “I do” – alarms still blaring – the fire department burst in.
“The rain had started to leak into the building’s alarm system,” which was why the alarms couldn’t be shut off, she explains.
“Guests were running out front to take pictures of the fire trucks, and firemen were running in to make sure everyone was OK.” At least they returned later to take pictures with the wedding party. The rain continued, and the building kept leaking.
“We went to sign the registry and my wedding dress was soaked. We choose not to call it a disaster; we choose to call it memorable.”
What’s more, after waking up from their exhausting day, they discovered the baggage had been removed from their car. They had no choice but to suit up in the big dress and tux again to venture out for breakfast.
“They say that if it rains on your wedding day, it means that all of the tears you would
have cried through your marriage are now gone,” says Erin, who will celebrate her 10-year anniversary with Duane later this year. “And it’s true. We’re very, very happy.”
Steven Chaffey was tasked with emcee and groomsman duties at his best friend’s wedding in summer of 2013. Chaffey had been essentially taped into his too-small tux for hours; and between numerous beers and the stifling prairie heat, he hadn’t been able to visit a men’s room all day. As the wedding party’s limo pulled up to the reception hall, Chaffey jumped out to use the facilities before announcing the couple’s entrance.
“There was one tiny stall in the men’s room. There was only a foot of room between the toilet seat and the stall door. I backed in and had to force the door closed. I felt like Houdini escaping from a straitjacket,” Chaffey describes.
Finally relieved, he tried to open the door.
“The lock felt welded into place. I gave the whole door and frame a good shoulder ram. It didn’t budge. The gap was so narrow at the bottom of the door there was no way I could slide under. Even if I could, the toilet was too close to the door to manouevre along the floor. The same went for the gap above. I was genuinely trapped.”
He started to panic. He needed to be upstairs introducing speeches. He banged on the door and called for help. No one heard; music was already playing upstairs. In a final desperate attempt, he grabbed the bottom of the door and pulled up with all of his strength (the beers may have helped). The door snapped off its hinge and crashed onto the washroom floor.
“I took a moment at the sinks to redress and regain my composure, laughed at myself, then went upstairs and had an excellent evening,” Chaffey says.
No one in the wedding party heard the story until weeks later. Oddly enough, none of the men at the wedding mentioned that the stall in the bathroom lacked a door.
Marliss Weber and Randy Brososky had their wedding reception booked at one of their favourite theatre venues, La Cit Francophone, which was under renovation that summer.
“When we walked in it smelled really ripe, sort of like rotting fruit,” says Weber. “Wehad the tables set out with lemonade and fresh fruit. I thought, it’s really hot outside; we should probably have this fruit on ice. I hope nobody gets sick.”
But then it went out of her head. “We had dinner, the speeches were fantastic – everything was beautiful. By that time we reopened the bar and it was time for the party to start.”
That was when the emcee announced: “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just been informed that the sewer has backed up, so we ask that you refrain from using the facilities.”
“This, after we had just fed and watered 150 people,” laughs Weber. Turns out the sewer line had been punctured a day before. The smell was actually an abundance of air freshener that Weber’s mother had used prior to the reception to disguise the stench.
“What was funny for me was that the need to go just completely evaporated. Over the night, the sewer backed up more and more, and there was a point where there were several inches of sewer water expanding out into the front hallway. But honestly our friends were such troopers it did not stop the party.”
Weber and Brososky look back on it with a laugh now. “We both agree that we love the story; we love that there was a little bit of drama associated with our theatre wedding. We talk about how we made it through our first shit-storm on the night of our wedding, and now we can weather anything.”
Megan Starchuk had a definite plan for her wedding dress. As a very petite person, she wanted something simple and elegant that wouldn’t drown her small frame. She worked closely with a designer on a concept and shopped for the fabric – it should have been perfect.
“When it came time to do my first fitting, I walked right past the dress because it was so different than what I had expected. The fabric wasn’t what we had purchased. The design was not what we discussed.” And it didn’t fit, which was OK in the first fitting, right?
The second fitting came along (three days before the wedding): It still didn’t fit.
“The dress gapped so much on top that it was showing all boob, if someone was beside me they could look right into the dress.” She took it home, lamenting that her fianc was out on a relaxing golf getaway while she was left to deal with the dress mess.
“My aunt took me to Southgate Mall. We started grabbing every white dress we could find.” Strolling into Le Chteau, Starchuk found a dress she liked, but it was short.
“My aunt goes ‘No, a bride can’t wear a short dress. Brides need gowns!’ It was this glamorous but simple 1950s dress with three-quarter sleeves, and lace, it was fitted – I thought it was perfect.”
Despite its length, grandma loved it, too. So to the checkout they went. It was $100 with no alterations required.
“I look back and I’m still so happy with it. I couldn’t imagine what else my wedding dress would have looked like.”
“There’s so much to learn from this,” Starchuk laughs. “I have yet to meet a bride, after her wedding, that wishes she stressed out more about things. If you’re more caught up in your wedding dress than in the person you’re marrying, then you need to reevaluate why you’re having a wedding.”
“Everybody literally has the best of intentions and wants the day to work,” explains Maggie Baird, planner with MB & Company. “There’s really no plan B about it, plan A is what has to happen. And there’s so much love behind it that everybody tries to make the best of it.”
If things do go wrong? It sounds clandestine, but the emcee in the bathroom and the mom armed with air fresheners had the right idea.
“Try to hide things from the bride and groom as much as possible so they can enjoy their day,” says Baird. In each of these stories, there was not all that much that could have been done differently to prepare; Baird notes that she hasn’t seen an instance yet that resulted in a complete cancellation of the event. Perhaps the most important lesson of all, she says – It’s kind of like theatre; the show must go on.
“Weddings usually just have a way of working out.”