Hitched: Recurring Nightmares & Wedding Disasters

Why did I get this huge chest tattoo right before my wedding?

This is the question I have asked myself twice now, awakening from wedding-themed nightmares in a cold sweat. In my first dream, the chest tattoo I got was some adorable phrase in scripty font that looked lovely when I glanced down at myself but was huge and disgusting when I looked at it in the mirror. The second was a full-torso tribute to the Insane Clown Posse. What. The?

My dress (thanks, Vivien of Holloway!) is strapless, or it will be when the seamstress gets done with it, so there’d certainly be no hiding an above-tit tattoo, even if I wanted to. And as I’m an ink-friendly lady, I have no problem with visible tattoos on brides, anyway, since I think they’re often very lovely.

So what am I worried about?

Well, that no one will want to sing at our karaoke reception, for one. That my adorable Betsey Johnson heels will result in ankle-crunching disaster despite my intention of wearing them for exactly 10 minutes. That it will rain on our outdoor ceremony. That someone will think “Please don’t bring children to our wedding” means “Please bring all the children to our wedding.” That I will get pink eye or a corneal abrasion. The list goes on.

I am told by my married friends that the recurring wedding nightmares are part and parcel of wedding planning. I am told that the only cure for wedding nightmares is just to go get yourself married. I am also told that even when shit goes pear-shaped at your wedding, as long as you’re married at the end of the day, things will probably be fine.

Hoping to exorcise some pre-wedding demons, I asked my hitched friends: did you experience any wedding disasters? The best response? From my musically gifted friend Mikal: “Does being knocked up at your wedding count?”

But seriously, folks. I wanted to know: when even the best planning goes awry, does it actually matter, or will we all look back later and laugh? The consensus seems to be: both.

Injuries are, of course, a major concern, and they are for real: take my friend Rachel, who wrote about slicing her finger open on the day of her wedding for CNN’s iReport. No one told her husband, and when they joined hands at the altar, all he could do was giggle at her puffy, bandaged finger. Another friend, Lindsey, broke her big toe—luckily she’d already planned on flats.

Like a lot of folks, I worry about Patrick and I planning our wedding from two hundred miles away. Though we live in Austin, we’re getting married in Dallas, at a very non-traditional venue. But that’s nothing compared to my friend Tiffany, who lives in Boston but married in San Antonio.

“Having to plan and do everything from 2,000 miles was quite difficult,” she told me via Facebook. She didn’t even see her venue until two months before the wedding. She was so busy the day-of that she didn’t do much decorating herself—and as a graphic designer, she’s big on details. Of course, things weren’t to her specifications, but she says now, “It’s totally me just being picky. Did it ruin my wedding day/night? Not at all.” And yes, there was even a wardrobe malfunction: the back fastening of her dress broke, which left her with a back-of-dress bulge.

Like Tiffany, Patrick and I aren’t religious, which is why we’ve asked a friend to officiate our wedding. But Tiffany’s officiant opted for the “marriage is between a man and woman” tack, even though Tiffany’s totally pro-gay marriage. Then there was the second prayer (“OMG my feet were killing me by that point”) and something about Jesus driving her marriage, which left Tiffany wondering, Was Jesus a taxi driver too?

Still, Tiffany’s good humor won out: of her “super Christian” grandparents, she says, “At least they’ll probably think I’ll go to hell less because of it.” Besides, most of it went by so quickly that Tiffany says she really felt like it was just she and her husband there, “and I think that’s what it’s supposed to feel like.”

Of course, watching a wedding disaster happen right in front of you is very different from hearing about it after the fact—which is why I’ll never forget my friends Lauren and Trenton’s wedding, wherein moments before the ceremony, it was realized that Trenton had left the wedding bands at home. There sat beautiful, easygoing Lauren in her stunning flowered gown, fanning her eyes to preserve one hell of a badass makeup job.

As a bridesmaid, I felt so helpless. Lauren remembers going down “this spiral of drama and stress” over not getting her ring blessed. But she still had her engagement ring, and the ceremony went off without a hitch. Well, besides the “getting hitched,” part, which Lauren and a beloved and forgiven Trenton still are. In the end, she says it was a learning experience, and that she’ll always “be patient with him when things aren’t going exactly as I want it.”

So everything’s just going to be smooth sailing after the cake is cut (or, in our case, the frozen yogurt is soft-served) and honeymoon embarked upon, right? Not so, my friend Jose reminds me.

He was a “nervous wreck” on his wedding day, but he worried his future wife, Jessica, would get sick on their honeymoon. After two days in Buenos Aires, she was down for the count. Jose spent his honeymoon talking solo walks through the city, then, on the plane ride back to New York, things got even worse when, well … puking. Then, says Jose, “I helped her clean up the vomit and held her until we both fell asleep.”

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. Still, I might take a bad, highly visible tattoo over nausea. Now that I’ve said that, I’ll probably end up, somehow, with both.