As a member of an extremely large family, I have had the opportunity to attend plenty of weddings. Many of them have been less than perfect, but the absolute worst wedding I’ve ever gone to was my sister’s. From family tensions to dress disasters, this wedding could most easily be defined by Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. And it did.
The Dressing Room Disaster
The first sign that all was not well in the kingdom came when we noticed the stain on the dress. My sister’s dress was a hand-me-down from our mother. It was off the shoulder, with floral lace on the bodice and skirt, and buttoned up the back with hundreds of fake pearl snaps. We bridesmaids were getting into our own dresses while my mother buttoned my sister up. I had just managed to get into those ridiculously strappy things that my sister called shoes when I heard her shriek, “OH MY GOD!”
The bridesmaids and I immediately went completely still as we looked at her. She was craned around, grabbing frantically at the back of her skirt while she tried to look at it. Once I spotted the problem, I was torn between a horrible sense of dread and a hysterical kind of laughter. On the back of my sister’s ivory skirt, there was a faint cluster of bloodstains. My sister had started her menstrual cycle a week early.
After half an hour of incoherent sobbing, re-applying ruined mascara, and the creative use of a Tide-To-Go pen, we had finally coaxed my sister out of the bathroom where she’d been hiding. Her face was flushed from all the crying, but weren’t brides supposed to be blushing? The stains weren’t completely banished, but they were hardly noticeable, either, hidden as they were beneath Tide and lace. The ceremony itself went off without a hitch. My sister never gave any indication that she had just suffered the most mortifying dress disaster of her young life.
When the ceremony ended, my uncles escorted everyone who had come to the tiny little building to the side of the church that we had decided to use for a reception hall. It was raining outside, which we weren’t too concerned about. Everyone made a mad dash for the building: women hitched up their skirts and got their heels stuck in the mud, and the men inevitably ended up with wet shoes and soaking pants. Everyone was still cheerful, though, despite the downpour.
Now, as a relatively poor family, we knew that my sister’s wedding wasn’t going to be perfect. But that was no excuse for how exceedingly…redneck the whole gathering was.
There were fold-up chairs laid out around several fold-up tables that had been decorated with white tablecloths. The cake was set up, all four tiers of it, on a side table near the kitchen. There was no dance floor, mainly because no one in our family knows how to dance, and we had decided to spare ourselves that embarrassment. The places at the tables were set with paper plates and plastic forks.
I almost cringed when I saw who was manning the kitchen. My sister had assured us that she’d managed to find a caterer, so that no one in the family would have to spend the reception dishing out food. What she had neglected to mention was that she had hired one of the ROTC mothers from our local high school to cook for her wedding. Big Mama, as anyone who had ever set foot in the ROTC classroom called her, was an extremely large woman whose son was friends with my sister and her new groom. She had set up a buffet bar near the cake, but she had only managed to cook two things: nachos (my sister’s favorite) and fajitas (the groom’s favorite), along with a murky orange substance that she poured in our cups and called “Sherbet-berry Punch”.
Once everyone had their plates, my sister leaned over from where she sat beside me and murmured, “This is where you make your toast.”
I stared at her. Nowhere, in this entire fiasco, had anyone mentioned anything about ME making a speech. I was the socially awkward girl who couldn’t even look most people in the eye; standing up at the altar as my sister said her vows had been bad enough. I crossed my arms against my chest and refused to budge.
Luckily, my sister’s best friend valiantly stood (she was as shy as I was) and gave a halting, awkward speech that she burst out crying in the middle of.
I decided right then and there that I was getting married in a courthouse.