Wedding bells ring out stories of empty cameras, broken zippers and a drunken road trip to Mexico
By Dan Aznoff
Author’s note: The following collection of anecdotes are excerpts from an upcoming book tentatively titled “Notorious Nuptials.” Each of the stories have been sourced with members of the wedding party. Be advised: Some of these wedding stories date back more than 50 years.
Weddings are the source of memories that can last a lifetime.
Every marriage ceremony is unique in the collective reminiscences of the people who were involved. They generate emotions ranging from the father of the bride, who reluctantly gives away his little girl, to the maid of honor, who stands aside as she loses her best friend to a man that she has slowly come to accept as part of her own extended family.
Emily Norgaard of Mukilteo, Washington, can still remember the words of caution that her father uttered when the two most important men in her life faced off in the aisle during her own wedding procession.
“My father horrified by my soon-to-be-husband when he warned him that he was giving the bride away,” she remembered. “He (my father) made it clear that his store did not offer an exchange or return policy.”
If the shoe fits
The ring bearer forced Delores Dobson of Anaheim, California, to delay her ceremony while the mother of the 6-year-old boy rushed out on a Sunday morning to buy her son dress shoes that actually fit his young feet.
“How does a 6-year-old who wears a child’s shoe fit into a size 13 men’s shoe?” the bride asked rhetorically. His mom had to buy a new pair.
“That was not a simple task on a Sunday morning,” explained Delores. “Our wedding was 45 minutes late.”
Young people were responsible for the mess at the reception for Carlotte and Rob Larson at the home of the bride’s parents. They agreed the mishap was the result of a critical error in judgement.
“All the tables were taken up with food, drinks and gifts,” said Carlotte.
The bride explained that lack of table space eventually forced the punch bowl to be moved to a low coffee table in the living room, just out of sight of the adults in the room.
“So, it was not a surprise when the small children washed their hands in the punch bowl,” she remembered.
Her new husband was more understanding.
“It was all okay. It was something we all should have expected,” Rob said with a heavy sigh.
No Rx for dumb
As a medical professional, Dr. Larry Johnson thought he had anticipated “every possibility that could go wrong” prior to his “very expensive” wedding at the posh Beverly Hills Hotel in 1968.
Larry wanted every aspect of his wedding day to be perfect. That included contracting with a professional photographer to document intimate moments during the ceremony and at the lavish reception.
But the doctor was ready to seek legal help when he realized the so-called professional had forgotten to load film into his camera. The good doctor wanted to file legal action against the vendor.
“I wanted to sue,” Johnson said after some reflection. “But my ‘brilliant’ father-in-law said not to sue.
“He was wrong!”
Lost in translation
The third time was supposed to be the charm for Amber Palms, California, resident Joe Morris when he flew his fiancé and the entire wedding party to Acapulco for a romantic seaside ceremony in April of 2000.
The destination wedding seemed to be “muy bueno” until it came time for the bride and groom to exchange vows. That was when Morris looked down at the words he was expected to recite.
“My wedding vows were all written in Spanish,” he remembered with a sinister laugh. “I could not understand a word of what I was supposed to say.”
A quick visit south of the border was also part of the wedding story provided by Tom Margitan, who also resides in Arbor Palms. An impromptu road trip became part of the wedding plan when Tom realized his bride needed to visit Mexico together with her soon-to-be-ex-husband for a quickie divorce.
According to Tom, the husband agreed on the condition they could stop for “a drink” along the way.
According to Tom, “a drink” to his wife’s former spouse really meant a stop at every cantina and watering hole along the highway. The threesome eventually made their way to Mexico and back across the border into Nevada, where Tom was legally able to marry his bride in Las Vegas.
Don’t mess with Mother Nature
The unpredictable weather in Seattle sent a spiritual message to the bride and groom during the wedding of Joel and Sharon Hoerner.
Their wedding day began on an ominous note when the flowers for the ceremony were mistakenly delivered to the wrong church, which caused the ceremony to be delayed for more than an hour. As a result, Sharon’s sister Carlotte and Joel’s sister Beth were prepared to walk up the aisle empty-handed.
As it turned out, the missing flowers were a lucky twist that gave the attendants a free hand because the formal dresses that had been ordered were all too long.
“The bridesmaids each walked up the aisle with one hand holding their bouquet and the other holding up their dresses,” Sharon remembered in vivid detail. “The bridesmaids were hunched over during the procession and then up four steps.”
That was when Mother Nature decided to get involved in the April wedding by pelting the chapel with sheets of rain, sleet and hail.
“At one point the hail hitting the roof was so loud we could barely hear each other reading our vows,” Joel remembered.
The weather, however, did not take away from their happy day.
“The sun eventually broke through, and we had bright sunshine all within the time of the wedding,” Sharon said with a smile.
Ever the romantic, Joel accepted the changes to the weather as a blessing.
“God was sending us a message that our marriage could survive any storm.”
Looking back at his wedding day, Joel admitted that staging a wedding in Seattle during April was probably not the best plan.
The author of this article was a reporter in Los Angeles when he contracted with an award-winning newspaper photographer to document his own wedding in Newport Beach, California. The problem was the photographer had never “covered” a wedding before. The result was that the so-called professional documented the wedding like a news event, which meant every photo included the bride and groom.
“You would have thought we were the only people in attendance,” said Dan, able to laugh about the blunder 41 years after the fact.
After living together for eight years, Greg Elwin and his fiancé Stephanie decided that if they ever did get married, they would exchange vows with their toes in warm tropical sand. However, the former police chief made the practical decision to save his money for the honeymoon by inviting their closest friends and relatives to a clambake at Sunset Beach near the Hood on the Puget Sound.
With their toes buried in some of the 200 pounds of pure white sand imported for the occasion, the happy couple were married by a close friend who had received his ordination over the internet. Stephanie’s daughter, Ashley, served as the official photographer as part of her junior high school class assignment.
Note: Greg and Stephanie saved scoops of the white sand and have it spread near their hot tub to preserve the memories.
Missed it by that much
Melinda Cavalleto of Old Town Mukilteo can still recall glancing over her shoulder during her ceremony long enough to see her brother and father with their arms outstretched prepared to catch her maid of honor as she swayed back and forth. The officiant, she remembered, had apparently not recovered from drinking too much at the rehearsal dinner the night before.
“She ran up the middle aisle of the church and threw up just as she was running out of the church,” Melinda remembered, before adding, “And yes, she is still my best friend.”
Double-crossed by the old double switch
Mary Smith can still laugh when she recounts the series of blunders that took place with the keys to her car following her wedding to her beloved Richard at the Atwater Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1958.
“When we were ready to leave, my husband’s friend had his car. That is when my husband remembered that he had the keys to his friend’s car that was parked in front of the church,” she said with a huge smile. “The best man was left holding a second set of car keys as he watched the newlyweds jump into his car and drive away.”
Mary went on to explain what the best man did not know was that some pranksters from the wedding party had already fiddled with the car that was normally driven by the bride and groom.
“When his friend jumped into our car, it would not start because another friend had disconnected the necessary wires.”
Measure twice, zip once
After refusing to be measured for his tuxedo, retired teacher Julius Aznoff was not surprised when the tuxedo pants reserved for his father-in-law were too narrow in the waist to fasten when he arrived on the day of his daughter’s wedding at the elegant Huntington-Sheraton Hotel south of Pasadena in 1976.
When the father-of-the bride threatened to not walk his daughter down the aisle, the groom was ready with his response.
“The hell you’re not,” Julius snapped. “Pull them up, button your coat and get out there.”
The stunned father turned to one of the groomsmen to confide that he could not pull up his zipper. With a smile, he was reminded that his daughter’s wedding was not an appropriate time to brag about the size of his anatomy.
What could have been an emotional disaster for a young bride in Harbour Pointe, Washington, developed into a picture-perfect wedding day that created memories she will cherish for a lifetime.
Stephannie Stumpf admitted to being a “photo fanatic” who wanted to document every moment of her wedding day 24 years ago. The image she envisioned suddenly went out of focus two days prior to the wedding when the groom’s father suffered a heart attack that left him in the hospital when the couple were scheduled to exchange their vows.
To guarantee a picture-perfect day, Stephannie got on the phone with the hospital and received special permission to take her wedding photos at the hospital with the entire wedding party, including her father-in-law dressed in his tuxedo.
“So, our wedding party and the photographer drove to the hospital before our wedding to take the formal photos,” she remembered lovingly. “I will forever be grateful that we had that chance.”
Everybody has a wedding story, and there is still time to add your story to “Notorious Nuptials.” Please send your funny, heartwarming or romantic contributions to email@example.com.
Dan Aznoff is a freelance writer based in Mukilteo, Washington. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the toxic waste crisis in California and is the author of four non-fiction books that document colorful people and periods in local history. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.