Carolyn Hax Live: Wedding Hootenanny (Friday, August 15)

Aug 15, 2014

Welcome to the second annual Wedding Hootenanny - a celebration of your best, worst and funniest wedding stories.

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Hey everybody. I have been reading Hoot submissions for the last day and a half and I'm still not through them all.

I can say this much, though: Christmas has happier misery than weddings do. Anecdotally of course.

Anyway, I'll do some regular Q's first, then hitch up my crinoline around 2 for the wedding portion of the program.

Sorry for the late start, btw--I was trying to get through the whole submission queue and misjudged the time.

OH and one more thing: Soundtrack! Here's the link.

Hi Carolyn, I have a dear friend who is an alcoholic - this has been discussed one-on-one and sometimes met with partial agreement and sometimes defensively. She is not getting help. We have a close group of friends who sometimes get together for birthday dinners, etc. and there are usually drinks. We're divided on how to approach - not invite her and she feels excluded, invite her but host at home and limit alcohol (she caught on and now brings her own), continue with the plan and keep an eye out and hope for the best. More often than not the evening now ends in an altercation, a fall, getting kicked out of a bar or all of the above. I know she feels judged and if I'm honest I know I am judging her - to be clearer I'm angry, frustrated, worried, sad, anxious and clueless. But, I'm sure that feels terrible on her end. At our core we are like family so that sucks to feel judged by people who are closest to you. She said she has to make her own decisions and they shouldn't affect mine. This seems like a deflection, but I also get that she has to choose when to get help. When I see her one on one I suggest day time activities and don't drink (these visits are getting shorter as she clearly is ready for me to leave so she can have a drink), but in a group I've boiled it down to I can either not go or I can go and not drink - which feels like a statement and therefore a judgement. Any different angles on this would be so appreciated. Thanks.

"More often than not the evening now ends in an altercation, a fall, getting kicked out of a bar or all of the above. "

This is your opportunity to insist. She is of course invited to [event in one of your homes]. Because of X, Y and Z incidents, though, there will be no alcohol, and if she brings it she will be asked to leave. The message is clear in that: You all love her and want her there but you will not support her self-destruction. 

I'm getting many wedding invitations these days and unfortunately I just can't afford to go to all of them. Some friends understand, but how do you explain that to the brides who just don't seem to get it and keep pushing you on it?

You don't. You're under no obligation to explain at all, though with a good friend you'll want to say something, of course: "I would love to go but I can't afford it." Done. If pressed, you ask them please to respect you enough to accept that you'd go if you could.

Beyond that, the couples' behavior makes for a good sorting tool. Remember who was gracious and who was pushy, and then, as you continue to be called upon to invest more money and energy in your friends than you have to give, choose to give to the gracious ones. 

While I have a lot of great stories from my wedding planning, I am going to reserve the right to participate in the hootenanny until next year when all my great stories are compiled. Until then I have this question: I recommended an old coworker for a job, and she took it and we have now worked together for years. She's been a horrible employee, to the point we have had to make several attempts to get her work on par with the rest of the team. Recently, we were at an industry party where she proceeded to drunkenly tell everyone I was a c-word and took credit for my projects. As you can guess, she was invited to my wedding, and our invitations had already gone out at this point. She just took a new job in another industry (good riddance) her last day is a few weeks before the wedding. I think she will RSVP no, she knows I'm very upset with her, but there is a chance the response will come back "Yes". If it does, can I respond to her and say, "Your presence is no longer requested at this event."?

Since I haven't seen this exact issue come up in a Miss Manners column, I'll have to wing it: Having a prospective guest call you a [c-word] is grounds for disinvitation. 

That said, and to ruin a perfectly good answer, there's a good chance (a) that she's mortified and (b) that your path will cross hers again, even though she's leaving the industry. Why? I don't know, bad-penny theory.

Anyway, because of these, it's worth considering--just considering--that if she does RSVP yes, then a conversation with her might be productive. Maybe, "I received your reply card--and I'll admit to being mystified. Is it possible you don't remember what you said about me at Industry Party?"

I'm having something of a pre-mid-life crisis. I'm 30 years old with a great job (at a company people say "wow" about), good friends, single but not bothered about it, and hobby that I really enjoy. I do often wonder whether job is leading me anywhere I want to go, longterm career-wise, and I don't feel incredibly passionate about it, but I really like my coworkers and I enjoy going in most days. But lately I find I've been craving adventure - fighting an urge to simply pack it all in and travel the world to rediscover myself and what I feel passionately about. I know this is partly a normal response to settling into a stable, routine lifestyle. But I also think it must be telling me something real about my current situation (right?). How do I assess this and figure out what I want? How do I tell the difference between having an escapist instinct because it seems easier than dealing with reality and having it because it's truly time to shake things up in a big way?

Start by shaking things up in a small way, to see if that satisfies the craving. Plan an ambitious vacation, take up a challenging, adrenaline-friendly sport. Start paying attention to the details of your cravings, and see what, if anything, you can fit into your current way of life. 

And, as you're doing this, save, save, save. Money is freedom, and your indecisive times are the best ones to stay put and stockpile cash.

I'm obviously online, but according to the chat, no one is online. I'm not wearing the invisibility cloak today...why doesn't it see me?

The counter's not working for some reason. We're on the case. But I promise, based on the number of questions and comments coming in we definitely have a quorum.

A buddy of my husband's moved in with us last year after some personal/financial/emotional setbacks. He lived in our guestroom, watched our pets when we weren't home, and helped out around the house. It was a great situation for everyone. He moved out just before our baby boy was born in February and in with an new girlfriend. Last month they broke up and he moved back in with us. Still unemployed and not paying rent, he has started to complain about being asked to help around the house. This morning I woke up to a strange woman in my basement who he had met at a bar last night and brought home with him. My husband thinks he is severely depressed and we should cut him some slack. I think it is time to have a serious conversation about the rules of the house. I'm creeped out by having a stranger in my house overnight, unbeknownst to me, while my baby slept upstairs. I also want to say that being part of a household means pitching in when asked. Is this too much to ask of someone who may be emotionally circling the drain and really has nowhere else to go?

No, for two reasons. First, your baby is your top priority, and so when you're faced with conflicting needs, you baby's vs. your houseguest's, the baby wins, no contest. 

Second, indulging someone who is self-destructing is not an act of kindness. Kindness is setting baseline expectations and insisting he meet them. He contributes, he gets help for his depression--and your arms and home are wide open for as long as he needs to get back on his feet. He brings another stranger into the home? He is welcome to live elsewhere. These baseline expectations are not punishment, they're the flotation device you throw to him. It's up to him to grab it, but putting it there for him is essential, and an act of love.

Some thoughts on the alcoholic friend, sans comment:

I just want to tell OP that she sounds like a really caring, loving friend. I am in recovery now but was as much, or more, of a mess as OP's friend. Ultimately, my friends probably judged me/worried over the years as they watched my alcoholism progress but they never once said anything about my drinking (to me). Although we didn't live near one another after leaving college, every time we visited there were drinks so how could I know they had so many issues with me and drinking? The last time I saw them I don't even remember 90% of what happened, but I do know that after that my friend dis-invited me to her wedding, and she and my other best friend cut off all contact with me. I wish they'd said/done something sooner so it wouldn't have felt like a sudden thing. But I imagine, for them, it wasn't sudden and they'd had enough. Unfortunately, this may be what it comes to for this group. Cutting her out of your lives if she doesn't stop drinking may be the outcome. And I'm sorry for you and for her. Life goes on and it can really suck. (P.S. I am so happy to be sober!! But it took a lot more than losing my friends to get me to do something...)

Of course you're judging her. You're entitled to judge anyone or anything, but behavior like hers invites, nay, demands, judgment. "She said she has to make her own decisions and they shouldn't affect mine"? Fine. She drinks, you exclude her. Her choice, your choice. The alternative is to let her keep ruining events for the group. The group should not be held hostage to her behavior.

Let me start by saying I'm a recovering alcoholic myself. Having been there I can say once you start drinking, an alcoholic simply can't stop. I remember thinking I'm drinking way too much but give me another. Your friend/relative needs HELP. Yes, it may suck for the rest of the party but have them booze free and kick her out the door if she shows up with a bottle. An alcoholic will not stop unless they want to and each person has their own bottom. Your friend may isolate herself and drink. You can only say I will be here when you need help. It can be very scary to admit you have a drinking problem. And it's overwhelming to say I can never ever drink again. But my life is much sweeter now and I wouldn't trade it for a quart of Jack. Present a united front among friends/relatives and try to get her help.

Sorry for the delay there--technical snag.


Hi, Carolyn, thanks for taking my question. My partner of 4+ years and I are getting married soon, and it's going to be a casual, fun event reflective of our tastes and interests as a couple, and limited to our close family and good friends. We're well within budget, paying for it ourselves, and the only relative on either side likely to cause a scene wasn't invited. Sounds perfect, right? And it would be, if I could just get past a single point of stress that looms larger the closer the wedding gets. I've put on a bit of weight the last couple of years, and, wanting to look nice at my wedding I've been dieting and exercising faithfully since the new year. (My fiance, for the record, likes my figure now better than he did before I gained the weight, but I loathe how I look in pictures these days.) I can now do more, physically, than ever before in my life and even my doctor says I'm doing everything right, but I've only lost 7 of the 25 pounds I hoped to, and haven't even dropped one size. Now all I can think about is how, in those wedding pictures I'll be looking at for the rest of my life, I'll be 20 pounds heavier than I wanted to be. It's literally the first thought that comes to mind when I think of the wedding. I don't want this to ruin my joy in our special day. Can you help me get my head on straight about this?

Actually, when you look at your pictures later on in your life, you are vastly more likely to see this: "Wow. I looked great. Why was I so tough on myself?" That's because you are younger than you'll ever be again--obvious fact with not-always-obvious-to-us implications--you're taking great care of yourself, and you're celebrating a joyous milestone in your life. 

And, on top of that, you're thinking pounds and sizes as a measure of body value, when in fact shape and strength and capability are measures that are going to soar in value to you as you age. Your fiance sounds as if he gets it--he sees you as, just for sake of argument, a sculpture unto it/yourself, and you're seeing yourself as one who compares unfavorably to a crowd. Don't do that to yourself. It's not a who's-the-skinniest contest, and it's time to flip a big fat bird to the cultural influences that are telling us it is.

Hi Carolyn, hoping you can calm my panic and give me some advice: I just got the "save-the-date" for my brother's wedding coming up this march, it has directions to their "wedding website" which is a "fund-our-honeymoon" page! My parents are backpacking outside of cell service but I have to imagine if they had known about this they would have said something. This is a young couple who don't live together so it's not even one of those "we already have what we need" situations. I'm so flustered and embarrassed for them I don't know what to do, I can hardly get this e-mail out coherently! Do I say something or keep my mouth shut since the save-the-dates went out anyway? And if I say something do I talk to my brother or my parents?

Panic? Seriously? BadTasteZilla is stomping Tokyo?!

It's not your thing, and it's not something I'm going to encourage if someone asks me for advice about registries, but if they'd rather parasail than have matching dessert plates, then, so be it. Some of their guests will harrumph about it--which you won't encourage, right? and instead will answer with, "To each his own"?--but others will probably also share the couple's values and gladly pitch in. 

I honestly did a double take, thinking that I somehow was you. Same, same and same (though I didn't love working for Wow Co, I could handle it well enough, and enjoyed my coworkers). Go have an adventure. Don't stress too much about metrics and PTO etc, pick a place and just go. For me, I (almost) totally winged it. A ticket to Central America, a backpack and a reservation for the first night in a hostel and figured that I'd figure out the rest along the way.YMMV, of course (most people thought I was nuts and would come home dead so maybe you'd want to plan it out a bit more) but it was something about this free-wheeling, no-plans (had a bailout plan just in case), following the wind thing just cleared a bunch of other stuff up. I realized that, yes, Wow Co was a terrible fit personally (but afforded the ability to go on such a trip)--so gained that perspective, and then eventually over time realized to jump for it, apply for the job I *really* wanted (a dream I'd let fall by the wayside) and guess what? I'm on my lunchbreak from it right now.

I want to work for Wow Co.

Heed Carolyn's advice. At my wedding 22 years ago I was 15 pounds heavier than I am now, and 44 years old. Believe me, I look longingly at those photos. (Do get a good photographrer ;-) You are going to be gorgeous. Rejoice!

Yes! And, bring a camera when you buy the dress ... maybe you've bought it already, I've spaced the details, but, if you're this concerned by how you'll look in the pictures, don't be shy about buying what pleases the camera. 

You know what this chat needs? A 12-buck money dance. (This will make sense at some point in the next hour.)

So, we Hoot. I do need to plan better next year, though--to do this properly, I should be two drinks in and trying to figure out whether the stuffed mushroom is one bite or two.

Our best man bailed between the wedding and reception. His excuse (communicated by a flurry of texts)? Another member of the wedding party strangled him until he passed out. Multiple witnesses have confirmed that the strangulation never happened. We still aren't sure what the heck happened.

I hope you don't find out. This story needs to be the last word.

One of the worst wedding stories I have ever heard was my own. First wedding to nice guy who made the mistake of having a cigarette to "calm his nerves" five minutes before the wedding (and no, he was not a regular smoker). During the wedding - yes right in the middle of the preacher talking he barfs all over the floor (thankfully and quite miraculously he missed my dress.) He ran out followed by the best man, all the groomsmen, his father and the preacher. I was standing there wondering what the hell to do. Somebody came and cleaned up the floor and after what seemed like an eternity he came back along with the others. He turned and faced everyone and said "I think I'm ready now." Some light laughter although most folks were too completely in shock to react. So preacher continues and gets to the "in sickness and in health" line and at that there was some hearty laughter. So I married him but it only lasted a few years (and with that kind of beginning can you blame me?) Found a wonderful man a few years later and we've just passed 20 years of marriage. Had a nice very small wedding in a restaurant and it was just the way I like weddings - nothing crazy!

Earlier, I said the gracious takers of "no" for an answer are the friends to invest in thereafter. I'm amending that: The ones who clean your groom's barf off the altar as you stand there like Carrie at the prom are the friends to invest in thereafter.

My husband's brother's wedding and reception were held at a lovely farm-estate-type venue about a half-hour's drive from the city where he lived. Things wrapped up around 11 pm, and my husband and I stayed around to help load gifts into cars and generally put things in order. While the bride relaxed over a final drink with her mom and sister, the groom walked down to the parking lot to bid farewell to some departing guests. Half an hour later there was no sign of him. We looked inside, outside, the men's room, the bar, etc. No sign of him. My husband finally got out his cell phone and walked off a few paces to give the groom a call. From out of the darkness we heard, "Where ARE you?...What do you mean, on the highway?" Turns out the groom was so drunk that he simply climbed into the car with his departing friends and hitched a ride back to the city, leaving the bride back at the wedding venue. By now we were the only ones left and she had to hitch a ride back with us. When we got to their apartment, her new husband was passed out face-down on the bed, wearing nothing but bright red silk boxers, while his friends watched ESPN and ordered pizza in the next room. Twelve years later he's still wondering when we're going to stop giving him crap about his oh-so-romantic wedding night.

The silk boxers! Such big plans.

My daughter married a lovely, kind man. A few weeks before the wedding, the groom's parents invited us to dinner at their country club - a 4 hour drive away. We did not know each other well and thought it was a kind gesture, so decided to make the trip. Before drinks were even on the table, the groom's father launched into a lecture. "As you certainly know, bride has decided not to take our family's historic name upon her marriage," he began. "Even worse, she will not commit to giving that name to our grandchildren and our son refuses to discuss this with us." He then went on to explain that because I had not changed my name when I got married, I had set a "bad precedent," and if I explained to my daughter how much I "surely regretted this transgression" she might be persuaded. My husband then insisted that they change the topic of conversation, which, miraculously, they did and the rest of the evening was awkward but bearable. Until... as the valet pulled up with the car and we got in, the groom's mother shouted "WE KNOW YOU'RE TO BLAME!"

Global warming? Totally your fault.

I come from a hockey family and married into one. My brother was a moderately successful professional hockey player, albeit one who made it more with the rough stuff than skill. Well at the reception my husbands uncle had a few too many and relentlessly heckled my brother about his career, ultimately challenging him to a (what would have been ill advised) fight. Bro didn't take the bait but ANOTHER uncle on the other side of my husbands family did, and two sixty something year olds squared off on the dance floor, with their sons "letting them go". Suits were ruined and some muscles strained, but remarkably the two were drinking together not ten minutes later. It has become the go to story at family occasions on both sides.

This is where my life is headed. 

My cousin's date to my wedding was an ex that she was still friends with. He was wearing all black, and put a white napkin under the points of his collar, making himself look like a priest. Then, he and some other male guests (that may have been related to me) crashed the reception on the other side of the hall. He was introducing himself as Father Todd and blessing people. On the other hand, my new SIL's boyfriend showed up to the wedding and reception wearing torn shorts and a grungy t-shirt. With his slight skullet, he looked like an aging Kid Rock. And at the breakfast the morning after, he showed up in khakis and a polo. 

He heard there'd be an omelet guy.

Isn't Kid Rock an aging Kid Rock?

Hi, CH. I wrote last year about my future in laws plotting to show up in black at my wedding. My fiance sat down with them and said he didn't give a rats pi-tutti what they wore but they were only welcome if they were there to celebrate with us, and if not they should stay at home or he would have them escorted out! Well, they acted all surprised but said they would come. It seems some backed out of the plan but MIL actually did wear black and came. Husband said he would do whatever we wanted and I said let's see if we can make a story we could laugh about later on.... Well, we did! Karma happened and I didn't have to lift a finger. My Maid of Honor conspired with the DJ to play Amy Winehouse's "Back in Black" during the Mother-Son dance. Now the video, which I watched a dozen times now with tears running down my face, plays "We only said good-bye with words/I died a hundred times/You go back to her/And I go back to black." I know it's a romance song, but who cares - it's hysterical. The face on my MIL is priceless and captured for all eternity.

From your nightmare to our ears.

1. A bunch of my in-laws (including MIL and SIL) were smoking pot behind the dumpster at the reception site. My Dad's friend, who none of them had met, walks up and SIL freaks out thinking "oh &*#! we are busted". Instead he tells SIL in his thick southern drawl "Well I sure am pleased to make your acquaintance darlin', I knew if I waited long enough there would be a smoke break." Family bonding ensues. 2. My aunt had too many drinks but thought she was okay to drive home. Backing out of the parking lot, she smashes into the caterer's car in full view of a crowd of guests outside (see story #1). She slowly drives away, thinking it was just a tap. The caterer includes the repair cost in my final bill, aunt gets home okay but insists to everyone "Don't tell Grandma". 3. During the reception cleanup, we realize there is still half a keg of beer left. Since the smoke break by the dumpster was over, that becomes the keg stand spot, where husband and several of my friends in dresses take turns. I am reaffirmed that my husband is a keeper since he shuts down any suggestions that the bride do a keg stand.

When a car crashes in a forest, and all the witnesses are high ... I lost my train of thought.

I do know when the Bathroom Pot hears about the Dumpster Pot, it's going to feel upstaged.

I was attending the wedding shower of a good friend who I'd known since elementary school. She was one of the first people in our friend group to get married and we weren't super sure what a shower entailed. We made several poor decisions, including playing a game called "The Bachelorette Party Game." One of the questions asked if there were any former lovers that the bride still thought about and I was the unfortunate person who got stuck asking it. The bride paused for a long time and then began a tearful confession about how she thought she might still be in love with an ex-boyfriend who she still saw regularly and wasn't sure if she loved her fiance or should marry him. There was hideous silence and then she and her twin sister started yelling at each other as apparently this issue had surfaced between them before. The rest of us sat around awkwardly until on cue the doorbell rang and the stripper arrived. It was so bad that we just paid him and sent him home and all made uncomfortable excuses to leave while the bride and her twin continued to fight loudly in the other room. The wedding was the next day and we were all absurdly uncomfortable since no one had spoken since the day before. During the part where the minister asks if anyone has any reason why the couple should not get married, several of us made awkward eye contact and sat on our hands. It was terrible. That said, they are still married today over 10 years later, so I guess all's well that ends well. Worst bridal shower ever.

Or, best First Pancake ever. 

When my boyfriend announced our intentions to marry during a small dinner party my mother was hosting she responded "Oh, that's nice. Does anyone want coffee?"

Bright side: wasn't hemlock.

The one about the groom who barfed on the alter is a word-for-word repeat from last year. I only recognized it so quickly because I re-read last year's hoot a couple days ago. These things never get old :)

You know what this means: I have to post it every year, as if it's new. Would someone with an unusually long memory for trivia be willing to re-submit it next year? Much obliged.

Dear Carolyn, I've recently learned that I will be about 4 and 1/2 months pregnant for a family wedding that I'm a bridesmaid in. My husband and I don't want to tell anyone this news until I am around 3 months along. We've had problems before. Now the bride has asked for my dress size to order bridesmaid dresses. Of course I have no real idea what my size will be. If I give her a size much larger than my current appearance then she will figure out that I'm expecting as she has a habit of asking persistent questions. There's an additional catch, the dress she really wants is only available in certain smaller sizes, so, if I give her a larger size then she has to settle for the dress she doesn't like as much. I have already tried to say that I'll order the dress myself but that hasn't put it off. How should I handle this? As a hootenanny aside, either dress is going to be terribly unflattering as they are both strapless and a pregnant lady can't really build in the usual stays that support a strapless dress or bra. I asked if I could add straps and was told that would be fine after the wedding and photos. The other bridesmaids (girlfriends whereas I'm a relative) all shot me down for not being supportive. Could be a good show no matter what comes of the dress size question :) Help! Thanks, The Size of the Show

You can't just tell the bride and swear her to secrecy?

My father stood up at my wedding and said (written down so he wouldn't screw it up), "I hope today is the worst day of your marriage." Then sat down and waited for everyone to figure out that he was going for a nice sentiment that everything after the wedding will be even better than the wedding. Dad was given specific guidance for what he could say when my sister got married 10 years later.

Is he an engineer, by any chance?

I had the misfortune of being a MOH at a friend's Elvis themed wedding (he liked Elvis--she didn't). He showed up to the wedding dressed like Elvis regardless. They were only getting married because she was pregnant (he was a creep with prior kids from a 16 year old and actively engaged in a custody/immigration battle with a woman in another country who he'd also impregnated). It was a train wreck from the beginning and I'm embarrassed that most of us were there for the spectacle. During the ceremony, the officiant repeatedly mispronounced the groom's name (they had not met before that day), and then when he got to the part asking if anyone had any objections, someone loudly coughed "bull****" and there was a horrible long awkward silence as everyone shifted uncomfortably in their pews. Things proceeded, but at the reception continued to go downhill. The reception was at a gay karaoke bar (classy), and opened with her brother loudly wailing "White Wedding" severely off key. The groom got trashed and sang the rest of the night ignoring the bride and everyone else. When it got time for my toast I was nervous about what to say and took about 4 shots in very rapid succession and started to feel extremely nauseous. I had written a speech but managed to get through very little before congratulating the bride and announcing that I was happy she was pregnant. Another deafening silence filled the room which I found fit to fill with "Go Bears!" before being seated amidst gaping stares. The couple is not together anymore, but miraculously, I am still friends with the bride. I have never lived that incident down but have since managed to pull off being a MOH to much better success.

You and I clearly have different definitions of success.

(I also know I'm going to get some this-can't-be-real comments and/or 500 people telling me the movie this was stolen from, but I'm putting my fingers in my ears and saying NAH-NAH-NAH.)

Hi Carolyn, no question, but this still makes me chuckle: When my husband's cousin got married a few years back, I was unable to attend the bridal shower. I put together a collection of smaller items from their registry (serving utensils, napkin holder, cake stand, etc) and packaged it up in a sturdy box I had in my closet. I wrapped it beautifully and sent it off with some other relatives who were attending. A few weeks later I received a nice hand-written note thanking us for the mini black-&-white TV (the box it had all been wrapped in.) Apparently they never opened the box. All these years later they've never mentioned it, and neither have I. I always wonder if they donated the "TV" or just chucked it?

Me too. Anyone? This you?

A few years back I was at a wedding where the groom's parents were long divorced. The groom's father - very awkwardly - stands up to give a toast. "I remember when the groom was born. Actually, I remember when he was conceived. It's kind of hard to forget when you only had sex once a year." I have no memory what followed.

The memories will likely return as you recover from the trauma of the unfortunate visual.

When my best friend and her boyfriend got engaged after dating for 5 years, they decided to get married at city hall and have a small dinner celebration because he was home for just 2 weeks on a mid-tour leave from Afghanistan. (A larger wedding Hootenanny was planned for after he was back from duty) Well, his mom wouldn't hear of it and turned their planned dinner in to a 'small' wedding with 50+ guests - mostly her friends. She also wrote out for him his speech, thanking everyone in the room by name for being there ... except me, the Maid of Honor, who'd flown in to support my friend. Oh, and his grandmother tried to object during the ceremony ... good times!

Tell me she coughed "bull****," and I can quit happy.

Daughter-in-law ("Carrie") marries into family about 5 years ago and has had her wedding dress stored in a box at Father-in-law's ("Frank") house ever since. Frank's daughter (Carrie's sister-in-law, "Susan") is getting married, and she wants to wear her mother's wedding dress. The only problem is that Mom is a stick figure, and Susan and Carrie are normally-sized and...obviously Frank sees and opening to save a few coins on the wedding dress and represents Carrie's wedding dress to Susan as having been her mom's. Susan falls in love with dress, despite multiple red flags (seamstress commenting that the fabric/style is fairly modern, it's freshly boxed) and Susan makes comments to Carrie along the way that she would never wear something from David's Bridal (where Carrie got the dress) as it's so much more tasteful to wear a family heirloom. Notices are placed in wedding program about how happy Susan is to be wearing her mother's wedding dress. Carrie shows up at the wedding to find her sister-in-law walking down the aisle in her wedding dress--now permanently altered--without asking/permission (which she would have of course given, snarky comments about David's Bridal notwithstanding). Jaw hits floor. Frank and wife apologize shortly afterward to Carrie about the little white lie which got out of hand but ask Carrie not to spill the beans. Now a month later, Susan still doesn't know but people are hiding mom's and Carrie's wedding pictures to try to perpetuate the hoodwinking. At least the dress is destined to be a family heirloom after this...

A Hootloom, if nothing else.

When my wife and I sent out invitations to our guests, we provided a return card with choice of entree for our guests We offered choices of steak, fish, and vegetarian, and thought we had covered the bases. One aunt, however, returned her card, had added a line, and written in that 'all of the choices would give me gas, so I will see if the appetizers will suffice' . We suggested Beano to her. But the clincher was my wife's step mother, who did not return her card because we had not notified her about which dishes came with rice, which she did not prefer to eat. I understand food preferences, but it seemed a little much to us!

No no no. The farting aunt is always the clincher.

My cousin was married last year. Both sides of the family agreed to invite no more than 30 people each and they split the cost - the couple did not want a huge wedding. On the wedding day, it turns out that his mother-in-law couldn't abide by the 30-guest limit and invited close to 150 people, 100 of which showed up. So a wedding that was supposed to top out at 60 people was more than double that size. Without telling the couple or my cousin's parents, they rented the adjoining room and opened the flex-wall (or whatever it's called) to make one big room. The extra guests more than doubled the cost of the reception. To add insult to injury, she demanded that the other parents split the cost for the additional guests. They refused and she sued them. The case was dismissed, but it was a horrible way to start a relationship with new family.

Ya think?

Carolyn, I think you missed what the sister was saying. It isn't that the couple have a honeymoon fund on the registry page of their wedding website it is that their wedding website IS a fund-our-honeymoon page. By my read they are sending guests straight to PayPal and skipping the part where they include details on accommodations and events.

I didn't miss it; see below.

I used to feel that way -- well, certainly not panic, but embarrassment when people I loved or respected did things I thought were in very bad taste, but I finally started realizing that my stake in How We As A Group Appear To Everyone Else was one that I had created, and that I can abandon. I now shrug it off, though I may roll my eyes privately with a few like-minded friends or relatives.

That. Thanks.

My wedding had a plated dinner, despite my family requesting a buffet. I didn't understand why, since it's much easier to sit and be served than have to deal with several mobility-impaired relatives getting food at a buffet. We did have a dessert buffet. A few years after the wedding I was telling my mom that I never did get to eat anything from the dessert buffet since they seemed to not put much out and it was empty by the time my bridesmaids went to get me something. "Oh, you should have said something. The ladies (her friends/sisters) could have given you some after" Yes, her friends and relatives had brought Tupperware to the wedding and descended like locusts as soon as they put the desserts out, taking EVERYTHING. Thank goodness it wasn't a dinner buffet, too!

I know, they'd have run out of pockets.

We didn't order our own cake. My mother in law got wind of us considering one that wasn't white, clutched at her pearls and offered to buy us the cake as a gift. Since she lived across the country from the venue she couldn't stop by the cake shop, and just ordered one over the phone. The cake was lovely, but the little bride and groom figurines on top looked very cheap, with a very sloppy paint job that made them look really, really angry. Especially the bride looked just about to punch someone. We still have the figurines in our kitchen, and every now and then we try to come up with new explanations for why they're so angry when we're cooking.

Photos? Please?

So I'm really glad I'm the kind of person who thinks that the things that go wrong always make for the best memories/stories, because otherwise I'd have no fond memories of my wedding... My husband and I got married a few years ago at a grand old historic southern Inn on our college campus. We had our fair share of normal wedding "mishaps,": Our cousin showed up in a skull t-shirt and cargo pants to our elegant affair, prompting half the guests to rush over to alert us that a "wedding crasher was present," and our DJ to playfully call him out with "you know this guy's ready to party because he's in a skull t-shirt." I accidently spilled nail polish remover on a 100+ year old antique table and stripped all the stain. My bridesmaid ordered the wrong dress size and literally got her dress only hours before she had to travel down. And, of course, extended family members who always find reasons to get offended got offended, and those who don't know their limit with the adult beverages didn't find it that night either. All and all a really great time was had.

It was my dad, however, who was the real star of the show. First, he tried to pop open the door to the Inn wide enough for both us to walk through it together so the photographer could take a picture of us walking out, but swung it too hard and it rebounded and put a giant welt on my arm. Then, when he was at the altar giving me a hug "good-bye" (gag), he knocked my veil out of my hair, prompting a five minute franatic search for the veil's comb by my mother while two bemused priests looked on (side note: everyone sitting behind my folks was like "oooh, your mother was so calm and just handled it so well," while everyone sitting to the side who could see their facial expressions was like "Holy $h!t, your mom almost killed your dad on your wedding day!"). My dad asked if he should take a bow after the veil was restored, to which I said (in front of the priests) "you damn well better." ...He did, there was applause all around...

And finally, we discovered after his 20th serving of Shrimp and Grits that my father has a shellfish allergy, and had to be rushed to the ER for observation the rest of the night. My mom compares it to "the way Will Smith looked in Hitch." Even better to my dad's evening was the follow-up two years later. My mom called up my DJ to book him for my now-engaged sister's wedding, and while they were catching up my mom said something along the lines of "we told Youngest Daughter no shellfish allowed at this event, we want Dad to make it to the end of the reception!"

The DJ got very quiet for several seconds and then said, "excuse me ma'am, I didn't think he made it." He went on to say that he thought my dad died, that he thought everyone was trying to keep it from me at the reception, and that for the past two years every time a potential client has asked him how he handles hiccups/disasters at weddings, he tells them about "the time the bride's dad died of a shrimp allergy, but he made sure to give them the party of a lifetime." To his credit, it was a great party, and hundreds of couples trying to plan their "perfect day"  got to hear the horror story of my father's shellfishy demise.


Not sure how Hoot worthy this is but . . .. I had a friend from childhood who got married when we were in our very early 20’s and I was asked to be a bridesmaid. She was on a tight budget so she was very proud and bragged of the fact that she was able to find her “traditional style” wedding dress at one of those Bridal Store sales where dresses are below $100. Of course, when it came time for the bridesmaids to get their dresses, which we had to pay for ourselves, she decides we have to go to one of those little (aka expensive) boutiques and the dress she ends up choosing for us costs about 4x the amount of her wedding dress. Since all the bridesmaids were also starving college students, we all try to suggest much cheaper alternatives, some people nicer than others, but she wouldn’t have it and couldn’t understand why were making everything so “difficult” I distinctly remember during the discussion one of the other bridesmaid’s angrily asks her if she really wants the bad karma that would come her way if she made us all spend that type of money. Fast forward to her wedding, which was outdoors in the early afternoon, and there is a massive heat wave. Her wedding cakes melts so she is forced to cut the cake immediately following the ceremony, before they can even make the introductions of the bride and groom and wedding party; the only picture they have of the cake it looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. For some reason, where the venue ended up putting the Bride and Grooms table for the meal was in the direct sunlight and they were unable to find any type of Canopy or Umbrella to provide them shade, so even they looked like they were melting. And when the Bride did a money dance, she got a total of $12, $5 of which came from her mom. Needless to say we all believed in karma that day

And finally ...

My husband and I had a very short engagement, so it was a real team effort to put on our fantastic and classy wedding. My sister generously took charge of the playlist for the cocktail hour. When we arrived at the venue, she handed off her iPod to one of the staff, and he said he would hook it up to the audio system for her. All was going well until cocktail "hour" ran over it's allotted 60 minutes. My sister was talking to one of my parents' (conservative) friends when all of a sudden she heard Andy Dick's "Suck My [Andy's last name]" playing over the venue speakers. It turns out that when the playlist had ended after an hour, her iPod reverted to shuffle mode! Worse yet, she had no idea where the staff person had taken her iPod, so she couldn't fix it. I was outside on a balcony, so I had no idea what was going on until I went inside to go down for dinner, at which point the iPod was getting everyone in the holiday spirit with a festive rendition of "The First Noel."

Which is a lovely segue to the next Hoot. Thank you, everybody, for all your hard work and suffering to amuse us. There was so much material I didn't even get to read some, so my apologies too for overlooking some gems. 

Have a great weekend, and type to you here next week at the same time (I'm on August hours, btw, 12 to 2).



Yes, he's an engineer! Excellent deduction.


Love the date selected! August 15th, 2014 was supposed to be my wedding date but the place of the wedding - a museum - overbooked us and we had to reschedule last minute. Second best option is definitely reading about other people's disasters!

Perfect. That's why I timed it to coincide with Shark Week.


We are all winners in a Hoot (or are there no winners in a Hoot? I can never remember...) but only one story can be crowned the fan favorite. Which one gets your vote? Make your pick here:

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Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.

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