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BRIDAL BLISS GONE AMISS

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Most couples don't get hitched without getting glitched - because no wedding, despite careful planning or all the money in the world, is going to be perfect.

Actress Nicolette Sheridan nearly fainted when the $15,000 gown she had custom-made in England for her wedding to "L.A. Law" hunk Harry Hamlin arrived with the sleeves 10 inches too short just days before the wedding.A panel had to be removed from the gown and the sleeves hastily lengthened.

The day of her wedding, Sheridan nearly broke her neck when her 4-foot taffeta train got tangled in the spokes of a horse-drawn carriage taking her to the ceremony.

And poor Paula Abdul. Just as she and new hubby actor Emilio Estevez were being toasted at their wedding reception, the Los Angeles riots broke out and noisy looters swarmed the streets just one block away. Maybe it was a sign of the marriage turmoil to follow; the couple recently announced their separation.

Actress Deidre Hall's church wedding fell through at the last moment when the vicar at the Episcopalian chapel in England that she had booked balked.

He was shocked to learn that she and fiancee Steve Sohmer, a television producer, had both been divorced twice. The couple had to exchange vows in a civil ceremony instead.

Mollie Wright, a wedding consultant and bridal-shop owner in West Palm Beach, Fla., did everything humanly possible to ensure that her wedding would come off glitch-free.

But on her wedding day, the limousine never arrived to take Wright, her maid of honor and six poufy bridesmaids' dresses from her home to the church.

"I had a choice between a Corvette we couldn't possibly fit the clothes in or a beat-up Volkswagen that had no backseat," she says.

She chose the Volkswagen.

"I arrived 20 minutes before the ceremony in the front of the church in a ratty pea-green chenille bathrobe with glue globs all over it and curlers," Wright says.

"I handed my dress to the first person I saw and asked him to deliver it to the back of the church. I later learned my `delivery boy' was my husband's boss."

"Nothing's ever perfect and that includes weddings," says Margaret Bigger, the author of "There's No Such Thing As a Perfect Wedding" (Down Home Press, 1991).

"Although problems that happen are hard to go through at the time, they make for fun memories later on. Sometimes they are passed on from generation to generation."

Here are some stories Bigger gathered in the course of researching her book:

- At the reception of Bigger's own wedding 31 years ago, she and her husband were handcuffed together by mischievous friends. But no one had a key. They had to go to the police station to be unlocked.

- As an organist hit a high note on an antique pipe organ during a recessional, the pipes peeled off the wall, fell on the groom and knocked him out.

- Reception guests were startled when a male guest suddenly grabbed the bride's headpiece and wrestled her to the floor. The bride's veil had caught fire. When it wouldn't come off, the guest threw her to the ground and beat out the fire with his hand.

- One mother of a bride was so excited about the wedding that she rushed to the church in the only car, leaving her daughter behind at home. The bride had to call a cab.

- A Presbyterian minister forgot a wedding and couldn't be located. As guests waited, friends frantically called ministers. They eventually found a Baptist minister at home who showed up hot and sweaty - he had been mowing his lawn.

- A very nervous bride threw up all over herself and her groom in the middle of the ceremony. The service was postponed while she put on a bridesmaid's dress and he borrowed a groomsman's tuxedo. The ceremony resumed minus two attendants, who hid in the back in their underwear.

- A couple waited until the Friday before their planned Saturday wedding to get a marriage license. But their state required a waiting period, so they had to call their 75 guests and ask them to come to the wedding on Monday instead.

- One nervous mother of a bride stopped in the ladies' room before entering the sanctuary. As she headed down the aisle in her long pink gown she realized she was clutching a roll of pink toilet paper instead of her pink purse.

- The button holding one bride's hoopskirt popped as she took her vows. With no other alternative - the recessional was playing - she stepped out of the hoop, let her gown collapse and left the hoop at the altar.

- A 3-year-old boy acting as ring bearer mumbled something to an usher as the vows were being spoken and promptly stained the carpet at his feet.

- A scorned suitor with a pilot's license and a plane "buzzed" the church where his ex-girlfriend was getting married. She called the authorities who over the radio ordered him to stop.

- A minister stepped forward too soon at the end of a ceremony to congratulate the newly married couple. He was accidentally kissed by the groom.

- A new preacher was advised by his seminary professor that if he forgot the words of the wedding ceremony to say whatever scripture came to his mind. One day he did forget and said, "Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

- Just as a bride was about to place the ring on her groom's fingers, it tumbled out of her hand and went down a heating grate into the church's furnace in the basement.

- A minister asked a nervous father of the bride, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" "Her father and I do," he answered.

- A new minister accidentally pronounced a just-married couple "man and husband."

- A minister, bride and groom were posing for pictures at the end of an old fishing pier when the pier broke, plunging all three into the frigid lake.

The moral of the story is that besides the cake, dress and champagne, the most important ingredient every bride and groom need for a "perfect" wedding is a sense of humor - because, if nothing else, they'll be able to remember the experience as perfectly hilarious.