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What to Do When Your Magical Wedding Day Turns to Crap

Advice from a wedding planner, a wedding singer, a Las Vegas Elvis officiant and someone whose wedding day was completely — and I mean completely — ruined

Weddings mark the beginning of a lifelong commitment, and the ceremonies often set the tone for the rest of the relationship. Needless to say, one would hope that the special day goes off without a hitch, especially considering the average wedding costs more than $25,000.

But alas, shit happens, and no matter how well-planned, there are times when these ceremonies turn into complete and utter disasters.

So what then? Are you supposed to spend another $25,000 on a different ceremony? Do you just have to live with the memories of a wedding gone to shit? Is your relationship forever doomed? To find out, I asked a bunch of people who’ve taken part in ruined weddings what went wrong, and more importantly, how the couple came to terms with the fact that their perfect day wasn’t so perfect after all.

Anonymous, who’s wedding day collapsed underneath family drama: Let’s call my sisters Eve and June. They already had a strained relationship. Eve was my maid of honor and had been a nightmare since the beginning; June was doing my hair and makeup.

The night before the wedding, we’d all gone to dinner and a show. Eve and June then went back to hang out with our cousins at the bar and drink. I guess the conversation got around to everyone’s paths in life — their futures and whatnot. June has a two-year-old who was a happy accident, and Eve is adamantly a “non-breeder.” Eve said something about how people shouldn’t bring unwanted children into the world, and everyone in the group took that as an insult to June.

I don’t know what happened after that, but sometime in the night hotel security was forced to call the police, as things had escalated to a physical confrontation and both of my sisters were arrested. Eve was released within a couple hours and escorted to the airport. June was released around 2 a.m. the next morning, and again, she was taken straight to the airport. My mother spent the whole day of my wedding — save for about an hour walking me down the aisle and attending the wedding — arranging for bail, rebooking flights and generally panicking about my sisters.

Despite all the drama and chaos, I married my best friend. I was able to move forward and forgive those who, some might say, ruined my special day, since the doors opened and I saw my husband standing there with a smile bigger than I’d ever seen, despite the anger he’d been struggling to contain that morning, despite my family and despite everything else we’d been through over the previous 12 hours. I wouldn’t have blamed him one bit if he’d chosen to run from me in those moments, but he didn’t — that’s how I overcame it. I don’t need a redo or another celebration, because nothing’s going to compare to how I felt the moment I saw him that day, at the end of the aisle, in spite of everything.

Gareth Bush, wedding singer: There was one wedding that began around 5 p.m. and by 7 p.m. the groom was blackout drunk to the point where his very-much-sober bride literally had to carry him around in a circle for their first dance. I felt terrible for her, but she and the guests were having a good laugh about it. He was later discovered throwing up in the waterfall behind the venue. Yikes!

I honestly have no idea how to turn that situation around, but my general advice for weddings is that, big or small, there will almost always be something that doesn’t go according to plan. Weddings usually involve a ton of moving parts and a lot of planning, so my advice is to make the absolute best of it, no matter what. This is your special day.  Relax and have fun. Don’t waste your wedding day worrying about the little things. Focus on how lucky you are to be where you are and who you’re with.

Kristeen LaBrot, wedding planner: The groom ran down the aisle in rented shoes that had no grip and fell on his face — I found his teeth in the bushes! Unfortunately, there were no dentists open, so he had to take all his photos with a closed smile. He also drank lots of vodka to numb the pain and kill the bacteria. The rest of the day went off without a hitch!

Michael Kelly, owner and Elvis wedding officiant at The Little Vegas Chapel: I was performing an Elvis ceremony for a group that included 15 guests. During the Elvis vows, right after I asked the groom if he promised to never step on her blue suede shoes, the bride became dizzy and fainted. She told me before the start of the ceremony that she was feeling anxious, and I guess the nerves caught up to her.

After she felt well enough, we continued with the show. The last song they chose for me to perform turned out to be “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” which I thought matched perfectly with the scenario. The group had a good laugh about this afterwards, and the bride was able to find the humor in the situation, which was all that mattered.

My recommendation to couples who are tying the knot would be to take care of yourself on your big day. Of course, you’re getting married and might feel overwhelmed, but take it one step at a time and don’t forget to stay hydrated, especially when you’re getting married somewhere as hot as Las Vegas.