Tales From The DJ Vault: Wedding Horror Stories
We have all heard of a wedding or two that go horribly wrong, however when you are in the industry, you see it happen more often. Here are some of a few wedding horror stories that we have witnessed in the hopes you can avoid them for yours!
The Sky is Crying
The wedding was in Lloydminster on the Saskatchewan side. I drove up with a trainee DJ who had been on a few shows already with other DJs in the company. We spent the Friday night at a hotel, it had been raining for 3 straight days already. Saturday morning we arrive at the acreage with a full size, sit-in photo booth, full white scrims and around 20+ up-lights. When we walked into the tent, the first thing we noticed was about 5 inches of water on the ground. The tent had been put up over a low spot in the field. Several people were hard at work laying down 2x4s and plywood to create a floor over the water. It didn't help. When you walked on the plywood it would sag between the 2x4's and water would pour up through the seams and puddle on top of the plywood. To hide this, they put the tables over the puddles. This only made it so everyone's feet were now in the water. We couldn't install the up-lights on the floor due to possible electrocution and damage to the lights so we had to suspend them to the top of the tent walls facing up the roof. This worked out well, until the wind picked up and nearly lifted the tent off the ground and blew it away. Everyone rallied to this new cause and drove their pickup trucks onto the field, surrounding the tent and securing the tent to the trucks. All this, and the ceremony hadn't even started yet. Ceremony time, there is water and mud covering every inch of the plywood. They lay down a white runner to the aisle, this does not go well. I watch as the bride gets married with a muddy dress.
Ceremony finishes. Cocktails are in full swing and people are drinking... heavily. It's cold, people are wet, no one has dry socks, or shoes. My trainee is miserable. I look over at the photobooth and notice some kids daring one another to touch it. This is odd behavior so I go to investigate. The photobooth's wheels have sunken into the mud and water and the booth has grounded to itself. Basically, it is now giving people more than photos, people who touch it are now getting electric shocks. Not the greatest photobooth experience. I track down the "plywood guy" and get him to bring another sheet over for the photobooth. Out of the water the photobooth is no longer nearly as enticing to the kids as it was before. Dinner time, everyone's feet are sitting in freezing pools of water. People are slowing getting to drunk to care, or hyperthermia is kicking in, we aren't sure. The first dance. There is no helping it, the Bride's dress is muddy. Not just the bottom but there are spots of mud all over. I can only hope the photographer is a photoshop wizard.
The dance starts, I go to check on the photobooth, up-lights and sound levels, there are muddy hand prints all over our white scrims. Seems the kids found new ways to have fun. The dance is next level! Turns out it was the drinking and not hyperthermia. The groom decides it's time to bring in his motorcycle and do a burnout on the plywood in the middle of the dancefloor. The smoke is thick and smells of burnt rubber, yet the warmth of the fire is comforting. People scramble to put out the fire. Guests begin to dance on top of the tables, i'm guessing because the tops are dry. Unsurprisingly folding tables have a weight limit, this particular one happened to be 5 people. My trainee seems a bit more lively despite not being able to feel his toes.
This may seem like a horror story however the one thing I always took away from this experience was how everyone came together to make it work. Water? Build a floor! Tent about to fly away, secure it down with trucks! Muddy wedding dress? Get married anyways and have a great time! People didn't leave and go home, they drank and celebrated the couple's love! In the end, everyone had a great time because everyone, Bride and Groom included accepted the situation for what it was and leaned in to it. Everyone made the best of it and because of that, we all got to walk away with an epic story!
The Fight Song
While I have seen my fair share of fights at weddings, this one stands out as the most memorable. There is a particular venue that is owned by the police, it's an out of the way little place that allow police officers and their families a bit of a reprise so that they don't have to travel a long distance to camp or RV somewhere away from the city. In order to rent this venue you have to be somehow affiliated with the city police.
It is about 11-11:30pm, the dance is in full swing. I just so happen to have a trainee with me again. All of a sudden, people start moving very quickly to the front of the venue. I've seen this before, I know what is happening. I leave things to my trainee and go outside. The bride is fist fighting with one of the guests (still not sure who to this day) and she is winning. Like no competition here, she is kicking their butt. Not sure why, or how it started but she looked really determined to end it. In the blink of an eye two police cars, one police van and a helicopter swarm the venue! I can only surmise that there was a lot of yelling and shouting before it escalated to give the police time to get there, cause they were there FAST!
Bride is put in one of the cars and the other person in another car. This party... is over. I go inside and start breaking down all the gear and loading it into my car. The police have detained everyone and are taking statements. We go to leave and am stopped by a police officer asking me where I think I'm going. I tell them I am the DJ and I'm going home. They let me leave (DJs do get special treatment ya know). My trainee and I leave the flashing red and blue lights far behind us.
If there is a moral to this story, I suppose it is; Don't do dumb stuff when there are off-duty police, on police property, who can call police friends? I'm sure there is a better lesson here, I'm just not sure what it is at the moment.
Why I always have trainees with me on the craziest shows is beyond me but here is another one! Large wedding at a large casino, 250+ people easy. Huge sound and light setup. Cocktails are flowing. Problem is, cocktails were supposed to end an hour ago. No bride and groom, no wedding party. Not a big deal, it's rare but it happens. Traffic, dress malfunction, a million different things could be holding them up. Another 20 minutes go by and my trainee is starting to look concerned. This wedding is already nothing like what he's used to. Another 10 or so minutes go by and the photographer shows up. This is a good sign as the photographer is always with the couple and wedding party for photos! The photographer comes up to me and says, and I quote, "I don't think this is going to happen." So I say, "what do you mean, this IS happening", as I point out to all the people sitting at their tables. He looked at me and says, "they haven't stopped fighting since they got in the limo after the ceremony, the Bride is upstairs in the room and refusing to come down."
No one who knows me would ever say that I am ever at a loss for words, unable to think quickly on my feet, or easily taken aback by anything. Yet, here I was at a loss for words, taken aback and with no idea what to do. There was no wedding planner on that event which means that the job usually falls to us. Don't ask me why, it just does. So what did I do? Well, I decided to do nothing. Oddly enough, doing nothing IS doing something when it is a choice. I decided to let it play out and see what would happen next. Sure enough, the wedding party arrived. It was decided that we needed to get dinner started at the very least. I told them that it would be really weird to do that with no bride and groom and no grand entrance, people already suspect something is wrong. They relayed that to the Bride and she agreed to do the grand entrance. We do the grand entrance. Bride immediately retreats to her room again. The groomsmen and groom are at the head table, bride and bridesmaids are nowhere to be found. Dinner is served.
Dinner is now looooooooong over, based on a typical timeline we should be getting ready to do the first dances however we haven't even started speeches. Bride and bridesmaids have not returned. People are getting antsy because they can only stand so much dinner and cocktail music. It's bad juju to start the dance before the Bride and Groom, hence why it is called the FIRST dance. People have started anyways. Get word from the Bride to start the dance. So we start the dance. I have never seen a bored photographer at a wedding, there were a few firsts for me this evening. About an hour into the dance the Bride makes an appearance. I truly love, love which is why I love being a wedding DJ. I was really hopeful that things had been worked out and we'd get a first dance at the very least. Nope.
I was running 4x 500w JBLs and 2x 1800w subs and I could still hear the Bride yelling at the groom over the music. She came down to make an appearance alright. I thought maybe the photographer would of been happy to have something to shoot, he was not. Word of advice for any DJs reading this; Your natural instincts in this situation will tell you to lower the music. After all, we are trained to lower the music when people are talking so that we can hear them. This is not one of those situations. I wanted to so badly. Alas, I did not and in hindsight, I am proud of myself. It would not have been the right call. In all honesty it likely would of make the situation worse.
The event ended about 30 minutes after that. The groom tipped us and left us to our tear down. We did not see the bride again. I never did find out what the fight was about but after that experience, I understand the reason annulments exist.
These days clinking glasses to get Brides' and Grooms' to kiss is so cliche. Better and more amusing to get your guests to work for it! This particular wedding involved busting a move on the dancefloor to get the couple of the night to lock lips.
Unfortunately, the best man got a little over zealous and in the midst of his deft defying moves, kicked the cake table which was in the corner of the dance floor. It's interesting how when these things happen you often see them happening in slow motion. Needless to say, that cake had no chance.
Luckily, the hotel was able to secure a small cake that the couple could use for their cake cutting.
Rollin Down The River
Sometimes we see things that have nothing to do with our shows at all! Often times there will be other events and weddings in other ballrooms at the same hotel. This one night a Bride was being wheeled out on a luggage trolly by her bridesmaids, crying. The sheer disbelief of what was happening was pikachu meme worthy.
The bridesmaids wheeling her out started yelling for staring but seriously where else was there to look? Nothing more awkward than trying to look anywhere but at the sobbing Bride being wheeled down the hallway by her bridesmaids. Seriously though, what went down that night in the other room?
Smoke a Little Smoke
Running a photobooth only show for a wedding in a downtown hotel, an interesting lesson was to be learned that evening. A lesson that would punish all DJs throughout the city.
You see, at one point in time fog machines were allowed in most venues. And why not? Fog machines are super fun and create wicked light shows! This particular DJ however took his fog machine love to a whole other level. Just as I was thinking, he's getting it pretty foggy in here, the fire alarm went off.
The fire alarm didn't just go off in just the ballroom though. No, it went off throughout the entire hotel. We're talking a full, people in their pajamas, building evacuation. 2 hours, 2 fire trucks, 3 police cars and a full building walkthrough later we were allowed back into the building to retrieve our things.
Because of negligence like this over the years, fog machines have pretty much been banned in most hotels and wedding venues. There are only a few worse DJ walks of shame than after setting off a fire alarm with a fog machine and that DJ was walking a hard one that night.
Wedding speeches can range from heartfelt to complete cringe. This one, happened to be the later. On this particular occasion the Maid of Honor decided to theme her speech around a list of things you shouldn't do in a wedding speech, ya know... to be ironic.
Apparently she missed the one where you shouldn't theme your wedding speech on what not to do in a wedding speech. The worst though was when she realized it. It was visible, it was tangible, it will forever be etched into everyone's memories. I know it still exists in mine.
In 2008 I DJ'ed an intimate wedding at a small theatre. Couple seemed nice, wedding party seemed nice, guests seemed nice. Typical wedding far as I was concerned. Not too many special requests of me, just one from the bridal party. At midnight I was to play, Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash.
Midnight comes around and the bridal party bring out a cake. I play Ring of Fire and as I look over at the cake I realize it has some sparklers! Cool. Until I get a closer look at the cake. The cake was made to look like the World Trade Center buildings and the sparklers were where the 2 planes hit the buildings. It was September 11th 2008. You could hear a universal, audible groan from everyone as realization dawned.
Apparently this was some kind of inside joke given the date of the wedding. The bridal party tried apologizing profusely when they realized it didn't go over the way they envisioned. The apology did not work, people were obviously upset with many of them leaving after.