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Nuptial Nightmares: Beach Weddings That Went Horribly Wrong

A sandy ceremony with the ocean as a backdrop seems like the perfect place for a lovely ceremony. But for these couples, the shoreline I do’s crashed harder than the waves

It’s the week of Fourth of July. And while we appreciate you being here, we really hope it’s from some stretch of sand or some body of water relaxing enough that your problems can be put on the same kind of ice as the booze in the cooler next to you. If not, throw on your shades anyway, and join us for our weeklong package, “Life’s a Beach,” a celebration of all things sand, sun and summer. Of course, if you’re already on vacation, you’re welcome, too — just be sure to reapply another layer of sunscreen, as these pieces burn bright. Read all of them here.

For many engaged couples, it’s hard to envision anything more romantic than exchanging nuptials on a beach. Gathering loved ones to witness the love between two people on a warm, sandy shore as the sun drapes over the vast ocean behind them is a dream come true. But the unfortunate truth is, beach weddings are hardly the picture-perfect event they often appear to be in movies and on TV. Unlike ceremonies that take place, say, indoors, there are many more variables in the things-that-can-go-wrong category — from the gusty weather to vengeful seagulls to unexpected banner planes. 

With that in mind, we’ve collected five stories of beach weddings that went horribly, horribly wrong. Read on for all the gory details…

Baba Booey Beach Bro

Sydney, 41, California: As a wedding photographer, I’ve been to a handful of beach weddings. They’re always a crapshoot, mostly because of the weather. But I’m not sure many people realize the beaches they get married on are often public property and thus open to the public, and thus may result in beachgoers moseying by, being in the background of pictures, spectating from not-so-far-off distances, or in the case of the worst thing I’ve seen at a wedding (beach or otherwise), interrupting the ceremony

Just as the bride and groom began to kiss, a guy wearing a slingshot bikini (like the one Borat wore) ran up and grabbed the mic from the pastor. He was obviously very intoxicated and probably on a dare from one of his bros at a resort nearby, because once he had the mic, he muttered “Baba Booey” three times before sprinting off into the distance. The guy was fast as fuck so no one even thought about chasing him down. Luckily, the bride and groom just kind of laughed it off, the minister was pretty quick with a joke about marriage being full of surprises and that was that. But still, probably not exactly what the bride had in mind for her beautiful beach wedding. 

Tiki Torch Travesty 

Pat, 34, Texas: At the bride and groom’s request, everyone flew down to Hawaii for a beachside, tropical wedding. The wedding location was beautiful: Everything you could ever dream of a beach wedding being, and the ceremony was to take place at sunset. I don’t mean to gild the lily, but I can’t stress enough how perfectly everything had aligned for this wedding ceremony; even the weather, after having rained on and off for the prior three days, had held off and seemed clear for the remaining week of festivities. 

Then came the ceremony. Everyone walked down the aisle with ease. The bridesmaids hadn’t accounted for wearing heels in the sand, but the first one kicked her heels off, as did the rest, and everyone had a good chuckle. 

Then came the bride. I’ve since learned that beach wedding dresses tend to be specifically low frills and light, mainly to account for warm weather and the elements. But her dress had a lot of fringe, and the wind was starting to pick up. As she passed the first row of seats, a part of her veil came unpinned and flipped into one of the tiki torches that dotted the aisle. The veil flared up and the bride screamed. The fringe on her dress looked like it was about to go too, but a bunch of her aunts and cousins were able to swarm her, remove her veil and pat out the rest of the flames. 

She managed to escape with little damage, and the ceremony carried on as it was intended. The rest of the night went well, too, but it was quite startling to see the bride on fire, and it seemed kind of like a bad omen. I don’t think the marriage lasted more than a year or so.

Sloppy Send Off

Seth, 58, New York: This incident occurred at a wedding ceremony on a beach in the Virgin Islands in the mid-1980s. The bride and groom had enlisted a float plane, which are propeller airplanes with skis on the bottom that allow them to land and take off in water. The idea was that after the ceremony, they were going to climb into the float plane and fly off into the sunset. But things didn’t go as planned. My ears perked up when the sound of the airplane’s engine cut off a lot faster than what seemed normal, and it turned out that the plane flipped over while pulling away from the beach.  

Everyone on the plane survived, thankfully, but it was a disastrous end to what was a beautiful wedding. One of the pontoons had apparently filled with water, and the pilot forgot to check that before takeoff; so when he started to pull away, one side of the plane was too heavy and the whole thing flipped over. I later heard that all the wedding photos were on the plane as well, and since this was all before digital cameras, all the film was lost. 

A day or two later, a barge with a crane showed up and hauled the plane up onto its deck. I last saw the barge heading back to shore with a very sad-looking plane, its broken tail laying next to it.

Sunburns and Sore Feet

Breanne, 33, California: My oldest childhood friend got married a few years ago, and I literally learned everything I needed to know about how not to plan a wedding. Basically, everything that could go wrong did go wrong — and then some, because it was a wedding on the beach in Monterey, California. For starters, the hotel everyone stayed at was five miles from the beach, and because there was heavy traffic the morning of the wedding, the bride and many of the guests and members of the wedding party were an hour late. Also, the bride had picked a pebble beach and made everyone in the wedding party wear white Converse, so the tiny rocks in our shoes hurt worse than wearing high heels. 

The bride and groom had both gained a little weight and the rings didn’t fit their fingers, so the pastor had to put sunscreen on their hands and then help them slide the rings on. It was awkward. And since most people were sitting in the sun on the beach for an hour longer than anyone anticipated, everyone was incredibly sunburnt. Like, red lobster burnt to a crisp, including the groom. It was a long trek back to the reception where everyone was nursing their sunburns and wet, painful feet from the beach pebbles, so the whole thing ended in a whimper. 

Trapped in a Seagull Shitstorm

Ben, 23, California: The worst wedding I’ve ever attended was a family friend’s in San Diego. It seemed like two things happened that everyone still jokes about as signs that God didn’t approve of the union, even though they’re still happily married to this day. There were about 50 to 60 guests, all of whom were sitting down in their chairs waiting for the ceremony to start when the faint cry of seagulls began to grow louder and louder. The next thing we knew, a whole bunch of them flew overhead like B-2 bombers, squacking and raining seagull shit down on everyone’s heads. 

At least 10 guests had big dollops of seagull poop on their suits or dresses. I thought maybe they smelled food or the rice we were supposed to throw and came for us, or they were mad that we were taking up their spots on the beach. Either way, it probably only lasted a few seconds, but it was chaos. 

Once everything settled down, the ceremony went off without a hitch until the priest began reading passages from the Bible. As he did, clouds gathered behind him and the sky turned black. It started getting really windy, and the altar they’d built out of driftwood by hand was beginning to break apart. 

Sand was flying through the air and pelting guests in the head — including the ones who’d just wiped seagull poop off their clothes. The minister sped through the passages, reading louder to overcome the noise from the wind and sea and wrapped up the rest of the ceremony rather quickly. Then, like two minutes after he concluded, closed the Bible and the couple kissed, the rain stopped. The clouds broke up, the sun came out and you could hardly tell it had even rained. 

You know what, though? Maybe I’m being too hard on it. Because minus being kind of damp and some guests being covered in bird shit, all in all I remember it being a pretty good wedding.