Let’s call this one “Watch Your Step.”
From the time I first met this couple, I had this feeling that this particular wedding was going to be memorable. It started at our first planning meeting when I met the brides’ mother. She was a lady of some wealth and was planning what was going to be the most expensive, elaborate wedding I had ever officiated at. Everything was going to have to be perfect for her daughters’ wedding. She had booked a hall overlooking Lake Mendota in Madison. She had hired expensive caterers. A harpist, as well as string quartet, would provide music before, during and after the service. Elaborate decorations and floral arrangements had been ordered to make the site of the wedding and reception truly beautiful.
She had definite ideas on how she wanted the service to go, complete with readings she wanted. Unfortunately, she wanted some readings out of “Health and Science with Keys to Scripture.” one of the foundational books of Christian Science. Her daughter had totally rejected that particular understanding of the Christian Faith and did not want these to be read at the service. She asked me to be the fall guy, and tell her mother I could not read these passages. Well I, of course, broke the news to Mother as gently as I could, taking the blame for it by saying I could not in good conscience as a Methodist Minister read passages that are not quite in sync with the beliefs of her daughter and soon to be husband. Well, she fussed a bit but backed off on her demands.
I thought everything would be ok after that, but I was wrong. During the rehearsal the night before the wedding, Mother was going around like a woman possessed. She didn’t like how the musicians sounded, she didn’t like the seating arrangement. She started up her argument again about the readings. Finally, I had to remind her that it wasn’t her wedding, it was her daughters. She seemed horrified that I would speak up to her like that, in public and told me that as I was the hired help (her words) who would do what she said. Taking her aside, I told her that I could leave right now and spend the afternoon the day of the wedding taking in a movie. So unless she wanted to try to get a new officiant in the 12 hours before the wedding was to take place, and incidentally make her daughter very mad, she needed to back off.
She finally quieted down, and I thought “ok, perhaps now everything will go smoothly.” I was wrong.
The day of the wedding came. Everything went perfectly during the ceremony. The groom looked dashing in his newly minted Navel Officers Uniform (he had just graduated from Annapolis). The bride was absolutely radiant in her sleeveless, strapless wedding gown. Did I mention that she was a very slender young lady?
With the ceremony over, the wedding party went up to the rooftop of the venue, where there was a lovely garden. Going up the stairs were first me and the brides’ mother, the best man, maid of honor than the bride and groom. Waiting at the very top of the stairs stood the photographer.
Standing behind the photographer, with the brides’ mother at my side, I watched as the happy, joyful couple came to the top of the stairs, and then it happened.
The bride stepped on the skirt of her dress. With no straps or sleeves to hold it in place, it pulled down to her waist, revealing the fact that she had on no foundational garment beneath. She screamed, her mother screamed. Her new husband whipped off his officers cap and used it to cover her naked glory. Her mother swooned into a faint falling into my arms, as the photographer who was intent on recording every moment of the wedding per the mothers’ request, snapped picture after picture to record the scene for prosperity.
While I felt very bad for the bride in question, I must admit I did take a small degree a satisfaction in watching how her mother reacted to having her perfect day messed up if just a little bit.
Since then, I always tell brides this story, to warn them about the dangers of sleeveless wedding gowns.