Weddings are a stressful time for everyone. With so much planning and preparation, things are not always going to be perfect. The wedding itself could be disastrous. In this piece, people who witnessed a tragedy at a wedding share their stories on what went down. Content has been edited for clarity.

A Tragic Hug
A Tragic Hug

"'The groom may kiss the bride.'

A gigantic smooch followed.

The couple turned to the audience in the chapel and announced, 'Everyone, we would like to give you a hug before you leave. Please wait in your seats, so we can hug everyone in your aisle.'

Everyone in the last row groaned, because the service had been well over 90 minutes and everyone had to go to the bathroom. The little kids started complaining, but we all patiently waited.

Row one was done, two, three, four, five. At about halfway down the chapel, around row 12, tragedy struck. The bride stepped too far into the pews to give a hug to one of her favorite guests. And the bride’s dress burst into flame as its train slipped over the top of one of the burning candles lining the aisle. The groom stood there stunned as smoke billowed upward from the back of the dress and his wife was engulfed in flames. Frantically people leaped forward to try to figure out what to do as everyone tried to process exactly what happened.

The photographer performed a miracle — she was worth her weight in gold and to this day I hope someone paid her accordingly. She let go of her camera, rushed forward down the aisle with long strides, pulled off her jacket while moving, bent down, pulled the dress together, and wrapped her jacket around it smothering the fire. She pulled the jacket off, as smoke still spewed upwards, and the dress was a blackened horrific mess on the back. Quickly she reached up into her hair, started yanking out bobby pins, and pinned the dress together so only the white lace was showing. She then stood up, checked that the bride was okay, walked back to her camera, and picked up again with taking photographs.

Everyone started to whisper as the room stunk of burnt polyester and fabric, 'Maybe they’ll excuse us now?' But no, the bride insisted that everyone stay seated as she walked down and greeted everyone. We sat there, choking in the smoke, as she ambled down the remainder of the way. The whole back row whispering, 'Can’t we just leave?' But oh we stayed.

Moral of the story:

1. Don’t make your guests wait for you to hug every person down the aisle.

2. Don’t put real candles along the aisle.

3. Don’t skimp on hiring a competent wedding photographer who knows how to stay out of the ceremony, but can save the day when necessary."

Confessions Spill
Confessions Spill

"A very good friend of mine had terrible luck with women. He had dated a girl almost all the way through college when she broke up with him, moved back to their shared hometown and started working at Hooters while she 'figured some stuff out.'

My friend was devastated. He came from divorced parents, and his dad was currently on his 3rd wife that was a flight attendant from some Eastern European country that gets little to no attention. My friend was convinced that he was NOT going to end up like his parents. He was going to get married and stay married.

Well, he was right about the first part.

Not long after the first girl ripped his heart out, he reconnected with a girl he dated in high school. They went to different colleges but it was only and hour drive, so they saw each other frequently. They hadn’t been dating for long when they got engaged. It was quick, but they seemed really happy together.

Fast-forward to the wedding rehearsal, I’m a groomsman in the wedding, and we’re in the small town that they grew-up in. They’re getting married in the church she attended, or, so we thought, but her family was late getting there because they went to the wrong Methodist church. There were only two.

The rehearsal went well, and then the big day. The actual ceremony went well despite the bride and groom having gone drinking the night before and both looked a little hungover. After the ceremony we moved on to the reception, and the fun began.

After the beverages started flowing, and my friends mother left the party, the DJ started playing more 'interesting' wedding reception songs like 'P. Control' by Prince. The first indication that things were going to get sideways was that both the mother of the bride and father of the groom got hammered and started dirty dancing with their spouse. When their spouse decided to take a break, they started to dance with each other. Before long, the mother of the bride and father of the groom were found making out in one corner of the ballroom.

Several people got 'upset' about that and it ended with the father of the groom calling his wife something akin to a 'dirty Russian street floozy that needs to eff off.' It’s been 10 years so the exact words escape me.

Things ambled on for another hour or so. People came and went. The DJ finally decided that it was time to see the bride and groom off. He started the process, but the bride, who was belligerent at this point, started telling the groom that she wanted to stay and dance. When he insisted that they leave, she turned to him and yelled 'Eff you! Eff you prick!' dropped to the ground and started weeping. The groom picks her up as she screams and hits his back. He takes her out of the ballroom and the party continues.

I later hear from the groom that they went to the hotel room and the bride cried for another hour or so. In her inebriated stupor she confessed that she didn’t want to get married. She had said 'yes' because she liked the idea of being engaged, but the idea of getting married wasn’t at all appealing to her.

Sometime before the end of their first year of marriage, yeah, they stayed married after the 'honeymoon', they were divorced because she was openly flaunting the fact that she was sleeping with the manager of the then Cingular Wireless (now AT&T) mobile store that she worked at.

That whole ordeal was as close to tragedy as I can ever imagine short of a family member or bride/groom falling dead at the actual wedding.

I don’t see that friend much anymore. After he got a divorce, he cut off people like myself who were happily married. Last I heard he did get married again. This time to a good woman with whom they have two children. And he’s happy."

Parent's Don't Know Best
Parent's Don't Know Best

"Growing up, I had wonderful neighbors. I particularly remember a guy next door, Sean, who was always nothing but sweet to me.

Now Sean had vitiligo (white patches on skin). Even though it was limited to a very small area around the thumb, it was obvious that he was insecure about it and would always try to cover it up.

One day, his Dad called my mum. Turns out, they were going to see a girl for him and they wanted my mum to come along. My mum is strictly against this interview process, but Sean insisted. He said that however the girl is, you just have to say yes. In front of my mom, he told his Dad to disclose to the girl that he has vitiligo, just in case her parents might miss telling her. They never let the girl and guy talk in private.

Everything was fine. A date was fixed. The wedding was supposed to happen in another town, a few hours away. I had exams, so only my Dad went. They were supposed to come back next day by afternoon.

At around 2:00 AM, we felt as if someone was crying. We got up and realized that it was Sean. My mum ran across the street to his house. Turns out, his Dad never told the girl's side about his son's vitiligo. On top of everything, he had even taken dowry from them without telling Sean. During the wedding, Sean didn't cover up his hand. Someone from the bride's side noticed and raised a hue and cry. The groom's side came back. The wedding didn't happen.

It took a long time for Sean to recover from this incident. I had never seen someone so broken. Everyone in the town knew, so it was very embarrassing for Sean to even go out for work. He could never trust his Dad again. Their relationship was permanently strained. Years later, he got married to a sweet girl. This time, he took things in his hands and told everything to the girl. She was still ready for marriage. They are happily married now.

Sometimes parents THINK that they have our best interests in mind, but that isn't always the case."

Disowned
Disowned

"I played the harp for weddings for quite a few years, and saw some things that made me so very grateful for my own family because my goodness, sometimes, you really wondered about people’s motivations.

And also questioned the common practice of the freely flowing beverages, because there is always that uncle or aunt who just can’t seem to stop before they tipple themselves from 'buzzed' to 'literally raging hammered.' Sigh.

One that pops to mind was actually one of the more fun and interesting wedding ceremonies I ever did. There was a bit of a steampunk theme going, the couple was really fun to work with and had some cool and interesting requests for their music and ceremony.

The bride was also one of those people who clearly has zero problem with needles, because she had an incredible array of tattoos and piercings. This becomes important in a second.

So she comes down the aisle, and the preacher goes blah blah blah for a while, and then they are pronounced husband and wife and the kissing and the clapping, and they do their regress, and we all retire into the reception area for the food and dancing and merry-making. And the DJ starts doing the thing where he goes around the room with the microphone so that people can pass along their well-wishes and so forth.

Enter the mother of the groom. She took that mic and proceeded to inform the groom that he was dead to them, OUT of the will, no longer any child of theirs, because he had married a woman who was not going to be admitted unto heaven due to her tattoos and was himself by extension likewise out of the herd of The Saved.

{mic drop, exit the parents}

Even the preacher was just sitting there with his jaw hanging open. She had given exactly zero signs that she had any problem with the union up until that moment. Shoot, when we were doing the planning stuff that goes on before these Big Events, I’d seen her being just as involved in everything from what venue to pick to what color napkins would go on the tables, just like any other mother of a bride or groom.

And then…that happened. What-the-what-now?!

The best man got the party rolling again and the happy couple did a great job of just carrying on, but you could tell it was one of those things that leaves a scar."

Well, That Escalated Quickly
Well, That Escalated Quickly

"Well, I didn’t witness this but a friend of mine did.

The wedding started, people were eating and singing, everyone is happy, and the groom is sitting beside the smiling bride while keeping an eye on his father. The groom’s father was ill and very weak that day, and while everyone was talking and enjoying their time. The father of the groom said something that the mother of the bride didn’t like and things escalated very quickly.

The woman grabbed the father from his clothes and was shaking him while yelling. The man was too weak, so he dropped on the ground losing conscious. The groom saw his sick father beaten by the mother of his wife, so he jumped off his chair, ran towards them and BAM fired a straight punch to the woman’s face who took it, hit the edge of a table and then her face hit the ground with blood coming out of her mouth and nose. The bride saw every thing, screamed the loudest scream anyone ever heard and then dropped to the ground losing conscious too, and this was just the beginning.

As if everyone was waiting for this moment, the wedding turned into a war zone. Imagine a classic bar fight scene with chairs flying everywhere, women screaming, and men beating whoever they don’t know. The fight continued until someone cut the power off and it was complete darkness except for the green 'Exit' sign on the exit door. People started to calm down and move to the exit and then to their cars to go home."

Not Uncle Barney!
Not Uncle Barney!

"The religious ceremony had just finished. The photographer was busy positioning the family-members for his shooting session.

'I have to sit down, I’m feeling a bit dizzy,' said the bride’s great-uncle Barney (that’s her grandpa’s brother-in-law), probably in his late 70s-early 80s. A chair was swiftly produced and presented for him to sit down. His wife, Aunt Rose, promptly stood to his side to carefully take watch over him. Within seconds, she uttered those dreaded words: 'Is there a Doctor in the room?' As she was repeating those words over and over, her voice rising and her panic mounting at each time, she managed attracting the attention of those present.

There was no medic or general practitioner in presence, so the dentist in the room approached to couple to see if he can be of any help. He engaged Uncle Barney in a short dialogue to get the basic hang of the situation, course of which the uncle suddenly drooped to his left. The dentist managed grasping the falling man’s shoulder, making a sharp clockwise turn, and swiftly inserted his other hand behind the man’s knee. Continuing the momentum of the maneuver, the dentist basically lifted Uncle Barney off the chair and gently deposited him on the carpeted floor. Aunt Rose shrieked and promptly burst out in tears, fearing the worst.

The medics who appeared on the scene shortly after placed an oxygen mask over Uncle Barney’s face– who had in the meantime opened his eyes, but upon advice from the dentist remained lying on the floor– and wheeled him out to the ambulance on his way to the local hospital, followed on the heals by Aunt Rose.

Thank Goodness, all was well, and later during the evening word came through that Uncle Barney’s doctor had recently changed his medication regimen, which caused a sharp drop of his blood pressure and resulted in the drama at the wedding.

I personally witnessed all this unfold as he was in attendance for his sister-in-law’s wedding."

Redneck Family
Redneck Family

"The story I am going to tell happened to my parents, about thirty-five years ago. I was not present at the wedding. If this answer would need a title, it would be 'The father, the holy son and daughter, and the spirit.'

The bride was the oldest daughter in a notorious family who lived in our old neighborhood. Why notorious? Think of the show Roseanne with many more children, much poorer and MUCH more eccentric.

A redneck family 'avant la lettre.'

The most eccentric of them all was the dad. If you bumped into him after midday, he was usually trashed. He had a huge belly, and often was only scarcely dressed — undershirt, shorts, and old shoes, which usually did not fit the rest of the outfit. Nor his feet.

Teachers at the local school (which I attended as well) were always nervous when he entered the school grounds to talk with one of them about one of his daughters. Quite often the police was called in when he had drank way too much and was shouting at the neighbors, trashing a car — you name it.

Very often, he was stark bare when this happened, and very often he was arrested for the night.

They had a number of daughters, and all of them attended my school. One of them was in my class. They all were bright, and very friendly. They weren’t ashamed of their father at all (and I do not claim they should have been). We all liked them very much.

The second oldest daughter was a floozy street dancer, and very good-looking. Nobody cared about that — she was also very bright, and was an independent, proud woman. There were also three brothers, but they were very different from the girls. They were rude, untrustworthy, and violent. I never knew what school(s) they attended, but I think they were never at my school. I was afraid of these men.

The oldest son had committed a murder (in an inebriated fight, in which he stabbed another man a number of times). He was in jail for that.

At the wedding, on which my parents were invited, he was there as well. He was granted a permission to leave prison for one day on compassionate grounds, to attend his sister’s wedding. I think he was accompanied by an officer, but at some point, I think the officer wasn’t there (I don’t know why). Everything went okay, until the father and his oldest son started to binge drink after the first dance.

Apparently, the father did not like the groom’s family at all and he started to show his disapproval after the umpteenth Natural Light. First, he started saying nasty things. Somewhat later, he was shouting them. His son joined him in the quest to sell the message.

In the meanwhile, the second oldest daughter was trying to seduce one of the (married) brothers of the groom. She was dressed as if she was working. Highly seductive but also a bit too revealing for a wedding.

The situation eventually turned into a fight, in which our two heroes threw glasses to the in-laws. They weren’t exactly the same kind of people as the family of the bride, but still they loved a good fight.

The officer came back when the fight almost reached its height. He called in reinforcement right away.

Almost all tables were trashed, and next to everyone had joined the fight(s) (included most of the women). The groom’s brother and the bride’s sister did not join the fight — they disappeared in the bathrooms with nobody noticing. And they stayed there for quite a while. Two other people were still sitting down, paralyzed by fear, and afraid to leave because that might offend their host.

Yep. My parents.

Fortunately, nobody got badly hurt. Only the son was arrested — the others were only mildly reprimanded (and especially the bride was to thank for that). Since then, the father regarded my parents very highly, because they had come and stayed. He praised them whenever he could and they still are good friends."

The First Dance
The First Dance

"My father told me this just after it happened in the late 1970s. He was the head of HR at a large mill at the time and part of his job was to help the employees sort out their benefits. One employee was a 38-year-old man who was finally getting married to a widow after a few previous engagements that didn’t work out. Dad encouraged him to get life insurance and make the soon-to-be-bride the beneficiary, but the guy thought he was too young for that and dawdled. Finally, my father insisted and just days before the wedding, the guy signed the insurance papers and was all set to go. My father liked this couple a lot.

The happy couple got married that weekend and while they were dancing the first dance, the groom collapsed right on the dance floor, dead from a heart attack. He could not be revived.

My father was very shook up by this and felt so sorry for the poor bride who had now lost her second husband, but he was glad that he’d made sure she had enough money to pay for the funeral."

The Sweet Smell Of Burnt Hair
The Sweet Smell Of Burnt Hair

"It was last summer at my cousin’s wedding and I was part of the tragedy. The table of honor was directly next to mine. During the dinner, a girlfriend of my daughter, who has been invited by my cousin because she had been the makeup artist of her and her bridesmaids, was sitting by my side. She is a talented, gorgeous girl, very charming with long blond hair down to her waist– a beautiful girl in and out.

We were discussing the amazing pictures that she took herself of the bride’s design of the tables and the beauty of the flowers and the multiple candles. My cousin noticed that we were looking pictures on her camera, and she seems interested in it. So, I offered her to see the pictures for herself. Since we were directly in front of her, and the table of honor was quite long, we decided to bend over her table. My daughter's girlfriend was stretching her arms to be able to click for one picture to another. I was stretching too since the camera was towards my cousin. I was explaining the pictures and the beauty of it. My cousin was pleased and it was discrete since our table were so close and our seats too. In fact, it was a sweet moment since all the rest of the guests were eating and talking quietly.

Suddenly, we heard a part of the crowd starting to gasp and a bit of agitation with some starting to scream. We turned our heads to see what was going on. The people were looking at us, but nobody gets up, just glazing in disbelief at us. My daughter's girlfriend had them behind her back, she was between me and them not knowing why all the screaming.

She turned to me rapidly to see what it was about, for an explanation or else. This is when I saw a big smoke coming from her back, in an instant, I figured that SHE was somehow in fire and thought that it was her hair or her dress. Yes, her hair caught on fire because of a candle nearby on the table of honor. She saw in my eyes that something was wrong. I just grabbed her and bent her to try to see where the fire was.

I reached for the smoke and catch the part in an instant. It was her hair and with my both hands, I tried to make a ball from her hair and squeeze it to extinguish the fire by not letting any air coming in. I was feeling the fire and started to scream for water to be thrown into my hands in order to not let the air getting in it.

Everything happened in a moment, but it was a very strange feeling of everything going in slow motion. My daughter rapidly grabbed a glass of water and poured it on my hands as I tried to let the water get in. I felt that it was not enough since it was still burning but it contained to that part of her hair. I saw a flame coming out between my arms, so I squeezed also them altogether and scream for more water while I was looking on the floor if I had enough place to throw her on her back without letting go of the ball of hair that I was holding strong.

A young man finally got up and grabbed a glass too, as I was screaming instructions to him since it happened so quickly. He didn't have the time to figure what was really happening since he was facing the other side of the room, but he finally got what I was requesting of pouring the water into a small hole at my signal. In a second, everything was done. Her poor face was in shock and since she was not able to see behind her, she looked at me in despair while I was keeping her hair into my hands passing them over her shoulder for her to see my hands at least. I didn't open my hands until we moved out of the room, I kept trying to smile to the bride and groom in a comforting way that the celebration may keep going. We were okay.

We went into a room from the hotel. We slowly brushed her hair and looked at the tiny ball of what was not consumed in the sink, everything else just vanished, disappeared. The smell was horrible. We washed as much of the smell out as we could, but it was just a part of her hair. We cried a bit shakily and started to breathe in and out. I held her in my arms for a while along with my daughter and another guest that joined us. Finally, she made a bun and returned to the dance for a while with me and my daughter to show that she was alright. She left not very long after with my daughter, since she was feeling uncomfortable and still in shock, understandable as we all were. It ends for her with a new haircut, but luckily, it was not so much damaged. She lost just the long length about 6 inches but a part of her dress burned a bit too. I can't imagine the worst scenario that her whole hair, her skull and beautiful face would have been burned through it.

As for me, I have now a small scar on my arm. Since then, I have been focusing on my burning hands with a lot of running water through the night back and forth from the bathroom, hiding the pain but by the end of the night I was okay. It was during the middle of the night that I woke up in pain, as a large and impressive bubble appeared and burst on my arm. It took about two weeks to heal without not so much pain, now the size of a tiny pea not much perceptible.

A tragedy had been avoided for the worst, but still a tragedy for a 20 years old darling and gorgeous girl. I still have the image of the smoke, a glance of fire, her eyes and that is enough for me. I don't feel like a hero of some sort, just an instinct of protection, and a brain that knew just what to do on his own and act accordingly. I have been told when I returned to the room that what the people saw was a big ball of instant fire. I didn't see it from that angle, neither her, maybe for the best, still can't think of a moment of hesitation."

A Blessing In Disguise
A Blessing In Disguise

"This happened at one of my distant cousin's wedding 3 years back. I was not able to attend as I was working in a different place at that time but I heard this story from my parents and all my relatives.

I have met that girl (my cousin) couple of times, and she is very sweet, responsible and gentle girl. Her father is retired, and she is supporting the family by working at a bank. She has a younger sister who is still studying, and they were one happy family. The girl's marriage got fixed with some guy via arranged marriage, and he seemed like a decent guy (whatever that term means) to everyone. Her marriage date was fixed sometime in middle of May. She was working, taking care of marriage arrangements and shopping all by herself!

On the day of her marriage (the marriage is at 1:00 AM midnight), all was going well. The evening reception was great and post reception, everyone was getting ready for the marriage. Around 12.30 AM, the bride fainted! The auspicious time of the wedding has crossed, but she was still unconscious. They took her to hospital, she was put on IV for a while. She gained consciousness by morning.

The doctor said she got dehydrated due to the extreme heat (Mid may is summer) and added to that is lot of physical and mental stress. She works in a bank and private bank jobs are hectic! On top of that, handling all the marriage arrangements etc took a toll on her physical and mental health.

She was fine by morning and the groom said they will get married in a temple at the next available time. They have set the date again in 2 days for the marriage.

The guy went home and don't know what went wrong, he said he doesn't want to marry this girl. Her parents asked him and begged him to tell them what's wrong, but he just said he is not interested in marrying her anymore. The girl and her parents tried talking to him few times, and he didn't want to discuss what's wrong.

After a month, he got married to someone else. This girl felt bad and everyone considered her unlucky and all that negative stuff! She moved on, and she shifted to a better job. Her sister completed her education, and she got a well paying job.

A year ago, she met someone really nice! They are happily married now.

We still don't know what made the first guy walk out of this relation, but I feel this girl is really lucky! What if something like this happens post marriage? Will he leave her or stick with her!?

Some tragedies like this are truly blessings in disguise!"

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