When Your Wedding Goes Wrong

by | May 31, 2019 | Marriage | 25 comments

When Your Wedding Goes Wrong: When the day you've dreamed of is a disappointment
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What do you do when your wedding goes wrong? When all your plans for your big day fall apart?

Weddings are stressful.

And how can they not be? The day of the wedding is the day we go from being a “Me” to being and “Us.” Weddings are exciting, terrifying, joyous, and stressful all at the same time, and we place so much pressure on the wedding day. But sometimes things don’t all go right.

In fact sometimes everything seems to go terribly wrong.

That is what our guest, Michelle Foster is going to be talking about today. She is going to share the story of how everything seemed to fall apart before her wedding, and how she and her husband coped with that and recovered. While we were writing the Honeymoon Course we had weddings on our mind!

Are you ready for the honeymoon you always dreamed of?

The Honeymoon Course is here to help you plan the perfect honeymoon and start your marriage (and your sex life!) off with laughter, joy and fun!

Don’t make the same mistakes other couples have–get it right from the beginning! 

And we just loved Michelle’s story, and her perspective.

Here’s Michelle:

When Your Wedding Goes Wrong: When all of your plans for the wedding falls apart

It started about 10 days before our wedding.

I had a sore throat and noticed some junk in the back of my throat. I decided to play it safe and went to urgent care, where they gave me some antibiotics, as they presumed it was strep.

Great, strep throat 10 days before my wedding. At least it would clear up before the big day, I hoped.

That time was also the busiest time of my semester as a campus missionary.

The craziness of fall push left me exhausted and burnt out at every turn. Add in some significant conflict with the man I was going to marry, and you could say I was run down.

By the time the Tuesday before my wedding came around, I was ready to be with two of my best friends/bridesmaids and simply rest and be taken care of. Mind you, my throat issues hadn’t gone away. When we got to my parents’ house, I talked with my bridesmaid, who happens to be a nurse, about my sickness and we decided it would be best for me to head to urgent care for another visit, as it seemed strange my symptoms hadn’t gone away.

Strep test: negative. Mono: positive.

Awesome. Diagnosed with mono 3 days before my wedding. No wonder I had felt so exhausted the past couple weeks.

But of course it didn’t end there.

Literally a few hours later, a rash developed over my entire body – legs, arms, torso, everything.

That’s what you want – a rash covering your entire body on the day you will probably have the most pictures of you taken…ever. Add to that the name on your cake is spelled wrong and two groomsmen don’t have the vests they need.

Commence the meltdown. Why is everything going wrong? I’m exhausted and worn down and discouraged.

The day before our wedding, we checked the weather and realized that the outdoor by-the-river wedding we had dreamed of might not be able to be a reality. Just another thing added to the list. Each new issue felt like a punch to the stomach. I sobbed in the arms of my fiancé, mourning the loss of the dream wedding I had been picturing for a while now.

My rockstar mom (and wedding planner) came up with a great backup plan and we began moving on the new plan. It was sad, overwhelming, but we were at peace moving forward with the backup option to have the ceremony under the reception tent.

At this point, it just felt so clear that there was so much spiritual attack pounding at us.

I felt like Satan did not want us to get married. He did not want two people passionate about Jesus joining in life together. He did not want a love story centered on grace to persevere.

And he almost won. He almost beat me down to the point of giving up, to running away, to letting it all come crashing down.

But, with sweet friends, family and a fiancé encouraging me along the way, we sought the Lord, moved forward in faith and trusted Jesus was true in how He had orchestrated and led our relationship into marriage.

After a sweet time of prayer with my man, I was ready to give up whatever it meant – the location, all of the elements I had been hoping for, my appearance, for the sake of marrying this man. This was the man I had committed my life to, was ready to be teamed up with forever, and wanted to spend the rest of my days glorifying Jesus with. The materialism and pride in our hearts was struck down, and we clung to what people had been telling us from the beginning of our engagement: “Hey, as long as you are married at the end of it, that’s what matters.”

And that’s what we clung to.

By the time our rehearsal dinner ended and we came home and there was a bear in the reception tent, our only response was to laugh hysterically. Yep. That’s about right. After all of these things went wrong, it only seems fitting that a bear would be perusing all our ceremony setup the night before our wedding.

Come the morning of our wedding, and we saw so much answered prayer and kindness of the Lord.

I was less tired. My rash was pretty much entirely gone. The new ceremony setup looked beautiful.

And the greatest part? I married the man I love and treasure so dearly.

It wasn’t perfect.

It had its bumps. But the thing that mattered most was that we got to pronounce our new covenant relationship with one another, and got to reflect on the covenant relationship Jesus has with us. During the ceremony, we sang the song “In Christ Alone”. As I reflected on the lyrics while singing, I began to tear up:

“No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand. ‘Til He returns or calls me home, here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”

No power of hell could stand against our marriage, this reflection of Christ’s love for us. Just as no power of hell can stand against the love of my Savior, Jesus.

It was the sweetest day of my life. And all the sweeter with how the Lord cared for us, fought for us and loved us through all of the craziness leading up to our big day. And I praise God for it all.

Our dating relationship wasn’t perfect. Our wedding wasn’t perfect. Our marriage isn’t perfect. But Jesus is perfect, and that is enough.

Do you have a wedding disaster story? Let’s talk about it in the comments below

About the Author:

Michelle Foster is a newlywed navigating adulthood in Louisville, Kentucky. She works and serves college students at a collegiate church in Pittsburgh by doing administrative and support work for them remotely. She’s passionate about writing, graphic design and seeing college students come to follow Jesus

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. EM

    My dad was diagnosed with ALS when we were dating. At the time we lived across the country from my parents where we were going to college. A couple months after we got engaged, he was really going downhill. My mom called me crying because she didn’t know how she could keep working because she couldn’t leave him alone. I called my fiancé, and without hesitation he said we could get married right away and move home. He would get a job so I could care for my dad. And that is when I knew I made the best choice of husband possible.

    So we threw together a wedding in 2 months. It was in the winter and drizzling, we had to slash the guest list, our photographer was an amateur friend who did it for free (and they turned out pretty awful). Not to mention I was wearing the dress I had purchased for a previous engagement (long story lol) and I had neither the time not the money to replace it. At the rehearsal we tried having my dad walk me down the aisle, but he was so unsteady that I was o my focusing on holding him up, not looking at my husband to be, so we decided against it. It was heart wrenching, but I decided to walk down the aisle alone and meet him at the front of the church where he was already seated. There was dinner and dancing at the reception and we were so happy to be married that we did have a really fun time. But we had to skip the father daughter dance. To this day I can’t stay in the room for a father daughter dance at a wedding. I quietly excuse myself so I don’t ugly cry and ruin someone else’s wedding.

    I hope my story gives some perspective. Yes things can go wrong at a wedding, but it really is about the marriage and not the day! My wedding day was wonderful because I married my husband, but I have a lot of mixed feeling when I look back on it. And that’s ok. Although I would love to do a vow renewal someday and get a second chance at it!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, EM, what a touching story! Life does happen, doesn’t it? Like the perfect just doesn’t always unfold. It sounds like your dad is (was?) a wonderful man.

    • Hannah

      My father died six months before our wedding, and I too can’t bear watching father-daughter dances. At one wedding I ran out and bawled in the bathroom, which obviously was super fun. /s And I was lucky in that we got married in a nonstandard venue so there was no aisle to walk down. I think I couldn’t have managed otherwise…

      I’m so sorry you went through all that. <3

  2. F.

    I don’t think any wedding ever goes as planned, does it? My Mother-in-law got sick a few weeks before our wedding and was hospitalized. She was diagnosed with cancer and died a week later. When we were supposed to be finalizing all our wedding plans, we had to plan a funeral instead. We debated about postponing the wedding, but in the end, my fiance said we should go ahead. We had to rearrange various parts of the ceremony dedicated to our mothers and had the fathers do it instead. My Mom understood. It was a sweet and sad day all at the same time.

    The other thing was that I really wanted an “evening in the park” theme, but we had to have an 11:00 am ceremony. I went to great lengths to cover all the church windows to block out the light, rented these huge and lovely street lamps to light the front of the church stage and had strings of white twinkle lights all over picket fencing across the whole front. It looked great and created just the right “night” look but during the day. When I came out of the back room to begin to walk down the aisle, they opened the doors and I realized every ceiling and spot lights in the whole church were on full-bright-completely ruining the whole point of my “night” theme! It looked like high noon sunshine in July. I hissed at the pastor’s wife “WHY are the lights ON?!!! It’s a NIGHT theme!” and she told me we could turn them off, but I decided to just go with it. Come to find out later, my Dad and a friend’s husband “decided” on a whim that the church looked better with all the lights on bright, so they’d do that…..Yep. So much for the theme effort. So many other things didn’t work like we planned either, but in the end, none of it matters. Dresses don’t fit and you get out the safety pins. Shoes don’t arrive and you have to borrow some.
    Seam rippers come out when the flower girl cries about her sleeves being too tight.
    All the crazy things that happen just give good stories to tell your children and give you something to laugh about later. No point in stressing-just let it go and enjoy the day. (oh, and take along a bag with tape, super glue, scissors and pins in it!)

  3. Michelle

    A bear in the reception tent? Wow!

    This reminds me a lot of when my husband and I got married… we were told that I was sick, and instead of waiting 6 more months, we decided to gather the family and closest friends and elope. I didn’t have a dress, so the afternoon before, I bought a torn dress from a strip mall for $12 and went home to alter it. When I got home, he was in my apartment, laying on the couch and bundled in a huge blanket. He was obviously sick, so I gave him some flu medicine and he fell asleep.

    The next morning, the family gathered for breakfast, and when he got there, I gave him pain killers along with a Mountain Dew. The mixture of the medicine and the caffeine made him giddy (which made for interesting pictures). I wasn’t feeling well either, but I attributed it to nerves.

    We got to our destination, which was a tea garden in a nearby park. Our minister had been called away at the last moment for a funeral, so his friend agreed to perform the ceremony. They got lost on the way to the park, so there were 14 of us, dressed for a wedding in the summer heat, looking for the lost minister. Once all of us were at the correct location, the ceremony was performed, some onlookers took pictures, and we went to lunch. On the way home, my husband and I went to a walk in clinic, where they told us that he did indeed have strep, and I had a kidney infection. In sickness and in health, from the beginning!

  4. Jules

    My husband had a gas oven blow up in his face a few days before our wedding that singed his hair (thankfully nothing worse and he did have thick hair so we could hide the damage) ; the same week I smashed my hand against a glass door and broke my engagement ring; on the day our photographer went to the wrong church and didn’t arrive until the ceremony was almost over; and when we arrived at our honeymoon destination we discovered we had left my husband’s suitcase behind!

    My son was groomsman at a wedding serveral years ago where the bride was hospitalised the night before her wedding, managed to attend for the service only but sat down throughout, and returned home to bed while the groom attended the reception alone. The bridal party got together again several months later – complete with hairdos and suits – for wedding photos. But I’ve always felt sorry for that poor bride.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wouldn’t that be awful? So, so sad! Yes, sometimes life just really doesn’t go as planned!

  5. LM

    I can’t even think about our wedding because of all the problems! 😥

    • Lindsey

      I wanted a really simple wedding on the beach, and I wanted to be barefoot. My mom pressured me into having a wedding and inviting three hundred people. It was an enormous amount of stress and she was super controlling for months leading up to the wedding and we fought a lot. She wouldn’t let me go barefoot inside or even wear silver flip flops. Money was super tight, and so we had to do basically everything ourselves. A family friend did the video but didn’t record sound, my baby sister ugly cried the whole time because she didn’t want me to leave. The AC broke and I felt fat, sweaty and ugly. My mom made us stand in a receiving line and greet everyone as they passed us to go through the food line, so all the food was gone by the time we were done. And the one thing I thought I’d have – the moment the doors open and my fiancé saw me – was stolen by an aunt jumping into the isle to take photos. It was literally one of the worst days of my life (which has obviously been super blessed if I can say that), but it was all the horrible emotions leading up to it (along with knowing that what I wanted would’ve been less stressful and cheaper, and I would never get to have that wedding) that made me hate thinking about my wedding. I wish I would’ve eloped instead. I love my husband, and am glad I married him, but it’s taken me ten years to stop hating weddings and feeling super awful at them. But reading these other comments make me feel silly and a little guilty for feeling that way.

  6. Anonymous for this

    My wedding went as planned (the largest problem was that a bridesmaid needed to be sewn into her dress after the zipper broke).

    The actual problem was that most of my family treated me like dirt. It was horrible and leaves me with very painful memories of my wedding, but the one blessing is how clarifying the experience was. I always believed in keeping the family together, swallowing pride, making peace, and it became clear that my family saw me as a doormat and not as somehow who was owed even a fraction of the caring and grace she had given. The one time in my life I asked for something – just cut the crap and be happy for one day, and keep your complaints to yourself – and they outright told me I was unreasonable for asking them to take a single day off work to travel, complained about the food (which is weird, because the chef is sort of famous and I did a three-course brunch), complained that I was not giving them a going-away brunch the following morning, refused to congratulate me, and didn’t even get us a card. My older sister wore white. It was this unending stream of pettiness and low-grade nastiness – a complete inability to just act like adults.

    As I told my husband, I often felt like I was “planning a different event” – the purpose of which was not to “showcase my style” or provide a “wedding weekend” of amusements, but to promise before God, family, and friends to be married to this man for the rest of my life, and then celebrate.

  7. Karen

    That is quite the story! Mine was just the opposite, everything fell into place smoothly with no problem. We went the simple route though, nothing too fancy. After all, I didn’t want to be a stressed out on my big day and was anxious to get on with the marriage itself. Glad it all worked out for you in the end!

  8. Wynd

    Two stories, neither of them mine.

    One of my cousins had grown up on a farm and was an accomplished equestrian. She thought it would be great to ride off into the sunset with her new husband on a horse. Everything was fine except nobody told the horse about the rice-throwing. The horse spooked and threw the groom. It took about thirty heart-racing (is he dead? is he going to die? is he going to ever walk again?) minutes before he was able to try walking – no serious injuries, but incredibly sore for a week.

    One of my friends was an avid motorbike/ATV rider and was marrying another rider. Two days before the wedding he was out riding with his buds and went over a cliff. It was very nearly a funeral and not a wedding. He showed up at the wedding (on the scheduled day) with a lot of bandages and held together with a lot of extra metal hardware installed in his bones. They brought chairs for the whole bridal party so that he wasn’t the only one sitting. The preacher warned the bride to be gentle with her new husband on the honeymoon. The best part was the cakes – the bride’s cake was white, and topped with a female figurine and a silver/lavender toy motorcycle. The groom’s cake, originally intended to have a matching topper – had the topper on the *BOTTOM* tier of cake – a badly broken male figurine and destroyed toy motorcycle.

  9. Rebecca

    My wedding may be an urban legend by now:
    I had to plan the wedding, which was in Ohio, from South Korea.
    (Thank God for kind friends who generously give their time and organizational skills!)
    My dress was custom made by a Korean tailor and SO poorly done that my aunt had to fix it.
    The church had set up VBS in the fellowship hall, 3 days early, even though we’d been on the books for six months, so there was a canoe where my head table should have been, AND they made my friends and family take down the decorations and put them back up when the wedding was over (which I didn’t know about until after my honeymoon).
    The morning of our wedding I agreed to do a 5k mud run with most of my wedding party– the mosquito bites are just barely visible in our photos, but fortunately the bruises didn’t show until our honeymoon.
    We skyped in our beat man; my mom almost got in a fistfight with the church organizer; my father in law kindly reminded my husband that it wasn’t too late to run; one of our groomsmen had a last minute car accident and broke both ankles so he couldn’t make it.
    Honestly, a bear would have been a nice addition!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, my word! These stories are so awful I’m laughing (even though I shouldn’t be). What on EARTH inspired you to run a 5 k run the day of your wedding? 🙂

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      The VBS thing happens WAY more often than you would think!! I had a friend who got married and showed up at the rehearsal to find Veggie Tales decorations all over where they were going to decorate for the reception (and they had paid to use that space, too)! I seriously do not understand why this happens so much!

      • Rebecca

        I mean I get that VBS is really important to people, but I was a church member, on the books for 6 months, AND in the military on leave for my wedding; I feel like one of those reasons should have gotten me a canoe-free space? My husband is still upset about the $200 cleaning fee that we paid the church, even though our friends and family did all the work! It was just a disaster.

  10. CL

    Except for the fact that I didn’t get to plan my dream wedding because my in laws had too much to say about it, nothing went that horribly wrong. I was willing to give up a lot of dream details because I, too, thought it was more about the marriage and the wedding should be less important. Looking back I wish I had had a backbone and insisted on how I wanted things. Also, in the middle of the ceremony I realized our very, VERY expensive videographer had not showed up. I don’t know how I didn’t think of that before the ceremony started, but when you hire someone, especially that overpriced, you trust them to do their job. Anyway now we have no wedding video. Which is sad but since it was so far from my dream wedding I’m kind of okay with it. Plus we got our money back plus a discount on our photographer.

  11. Nathan

    My story (not mine exactly) is tame by comparison.

    My wife’s sister was a classic “bridezilla” (although otherwise she’s a very low key person). She got angry when her gown had sequins that weren’t 100% perfectly distributed over the dress.

    But then they had a huge plant/flower thing that was going on the main table as the main decoration piece. Plants on the left and right side, a big plant and flower arrangement in the middle. When she noticed that the right side had slightly more leaves than the left side, she FREAKED! I mean nuclear. Well, if that’s the worst thing that ever happens to you, be thankful!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree. Some people lose all perspective because they get this thing built up in their minds, and if it doesn’t meet every single expectation it’s a tragedy.

  12. Lisa

    Mine’s not as serious as some others, but underscores some things are just beyond control. I tell every bride I encounter that something will go wrong, and how you cope with it will affect how you remember your special day. After a year of planning, my florist showed up with the wrong flowers. Not what I had ordered at all. The delivery lady was horrified when I showed her my copy of the contract (complete with photos because I’m not a florist). There was no time to fix it. I just shrugged and asked if there was enough bouquets for all the bridesmaids (there was), and went with it. I flat out did not care, I just wanted to get married. No one knew those flowers weren’t what we ordered except me, my husband, and the florist.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow! I hope the colours still matched!

  13. Jenn Thompson

    Wow! So glad all of you are happily married, despite the disasters!
    Mine kinda pales in comparison, but here goes:
    Hubby and I got married in the side yard of his parents’ home and then I moved in with him/them, there.
    We had 2 of my co-workers take the pictures. Turns out 1 of them was taking pictures of the other one, more than of the wedding. Unrequited crush by the married co-worker. Then one of them got a migraine and went and laid down in my air-conditioned living room. The other quit taking pix and talked with another guest throughout the reception.
    There was supposed to be a space of 45 minutes after the ceremony, before the reception, for photography, but my mother told the caterer to start cooking the burgers, so there was only 15 minutes. Not a problem for the (free) photographers!
    Hubby’s family got their food and went in the house to eat. None of them were in the reception tent with my family and other guests.
    Then-6-year-old stepson grabbed flowers from the flower girls’ baskets and threw them at us as hard as he could. Fortunately, it did not hurt.
    Right after we cut the cake and fed each other a bite (no photos of that), it started pouring rain.
    My family packaged everything up and put the food away, while hubby’s family sat in the house, dry as a bone.
    But I married my absolute best friend and we are happy to be together and just celebrated our 6th anniversary!

  14. Brooke

    I needed this. I got married nine months ago and am still in the throws of processing our wedding.

    Right now I’m struggling to see some of the beauty and humor from that day.

    My brother and Man-of-honor was in the army and even though he had a legitimate doctor’s note he had to be at a field training four states away.
    We had a beautiful venue and had picked our favorite spot- in front of the brick cottage on the grounds- and our reception would be in the barn. The weather looked rainy all day but seemed to be holding out- until right before the ceremony and everything had to be moved into the barn and rearranged around the reception decor. Oh and there were tornado sirens.
    There were several things we were forced into last minute (receiving line, “cake” cutting, etc).
    And most the guests left early and we didn’t get to have the dancing/celebration with family and friends we’d envisioned.

    That’s just a few things.

    But I did get to marry the man God gave me and we have been living great adventures together just in nine months. He is beyond anything I dreamed! So, the day is hard to look back on except that God answered the prayers of a little girl’s heart for a godly husband.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that is disappointing, Brooke! But I’m glad you have an amazing man! 🙂

  15. Michelle Foster

    Thanks for sharing our crazy wedding day story, Sheila!


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