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Wacky Wedding Stories

Millie Jefferson

Brooke Williams

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A day to make a girl cry
(Courtesy Brooke Williams)
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Wedding season is upon us, and we asked listeners for their amusing and/or painful stories of weddings gone wrong. This weekend, we share some of your many responses -- including Brooke Williams' battle to have a picture-perfect Martha Stewart wedding, even if she had to battle the queen of domesticity herself.

Like millions of brides across the country, I turned to Martha Stewart when it was time to plan "my special day." Armed with her 112-page wedding planner, my goal was to throw one of those "simple, understated" weddings that take a year and a glue gun to pull off.

Organization is not my forte, so the idea of planning a wedding for 150 people in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. at the height of the summer tourist season was a daunting task. Five minutes after she claimed she was going to wear beige and keep her mouth shut, my mother-in-law Louise started ambushing my wedding plans with the subtlety and tact of the German army invading Poland.

When she threatened her son Chris with big trouble if we didn't get married in the Catholic church, he kicked the coffee table across the room and screamed as if he was 5, not 35: I don't even want to do this anymore.

Abandoned and confused, I didn't know what to do, until suddenly amidst the wreckage of the overturned coffee table, Martha Stewart smiled up at me from the cover of her Keepsake Wedding Planner. Like a hostess encouraging me to come in from the cold and sit by a warm fire, Martha coaxed me to open her planner and see how effortless my wedding could be, if I just followed her simple rules.

Using a series of checklists, timelines and re-sealable pouches for fabric swatches, Martha broke the arduous process into manageable monthly tasks, which thought of every possible detail before I ever could. For instance, not only did Martha advise me how far in advance I should order my cake, she cautioned me to confirm with my baker that the frosting I wanted would stand up to the relative humidity in my geographical region.

Never pushy, Martha seemed to understand me, constantly reminding me it was my day that I needed to personalize and then immortalize using acid-free keepsake albums.

She even gave me hints on how to manage my mother-in-law, advocating the use of stock responses such as: That's a good idea, but I have decided to do it another way. Or, Thanks for your suggestion, I will think about it and get back to you.

Following Martha's advice to involve my mother-in-law in small tasks that would make her feel included without letting her take over, I asked Louise to pick out the crackers for the reception. Two days later, 7,200 assorted table-water crackers were delivered to our house -- enough for my guests to have 48.5 apiece, along with a note that said she would still like to discuss concerns she had with the caterer I'd chosen.

Clearly Martha had never met my mother-in-law, who was not about to be kept at bay.

With Martha at my side, I started crossing things off my to-do list. Six months before the wedding, I had my innkeeper on speed dial, was auditioning organists and had completed two practice hairdos with Jeff, my stylist.

Finally, I had time to kick back and focus on the details that Martha said would make the day memorable, like using my new glue gun to fashion napkin ring holders out of mussel shells gathered from the cove where Chris proposed to me.

But just when I thought everything was coming together, I had to go head-to-head with the master herself and learn the hard way what it took a team of federal prosecutors two years to prove: Martha Stewart doesn't play by the rules, even when she writes them herself.

"Something has come up" was the only explanation my hairstylist Jeff offered on my answering machine when he canceled the wedding-day appointment I had made months ago. I am going to try to work you in at 7 a.m., he said flippantly, with no remorse for standing up a woman on the most important hair day of her life.

Seven a.m.? By the time I walked down the aisle, I was going to look rumpled and unkempt, not radiant and virginal like all the glowing brides in Martha's magazine. I might as well have my 4-year-old flower girl do my hair.

I would have told Jeff what he could do with his 7 a.m. appointment, if I wasn't so terrified of ending up in the chair at Bonnie's A Cut Above, Boothbay's only other salon.

This was supposed to be my special day and now everything was going to hell.

Instinctively, I grabbed Martha's planner for advice, comfort anything, but after rereading every page, I found no solace. I had followed all of Martha's golden rules: confirmation, contracts and constant communication. How could this happen?

I called my florist to vent and got my answer: Some bigwig is getting married in Boothbay the same weekend as you, she confided. Paranoia swept over me like a Swiffer mop on a dirty kitchen floor. Fearing the worst, I made Chris leave work to drive down to Boothbay to do damage control.

One by one, we visited the caterer, the florist and the photographer until we were confident that Jeff was the only rat in the pile. On the way out of town, we stopped by the church -- more to take Polaroids for the florist than to extract confirmation from a priest who supposedly reported directly to God.

During the summer, weddings run like salmon at Our Lady Queen of Peace, a white clapboard chapel perched majestically over Boothbay's yacht-filled harbor. With its windswept lawn and solemn steeple towering above town, Walt Disney couldn't have designed a more picture-perfect New England church. When we booked the date a year in advance, just like Martha advised. Father Parent informed us we were lucky to get the last available Saturday in August.

Father Parent presided over all the wedding ceremonies at Our Lady Queen of Peace with the showmanship and vanity of a one-man Siegfried and Roy. Adhering to a philosophy of quantity not quality, he prided himself on the sheer volume of couples he married back-to-back each summer. It wasn't necessary to even be Catholic, all you needed was a little white envelope that had to be discreetly handed to Father Parent right before the ceremony, not after.

Calvados also worked, as Louise discovered the summer before when she cajoled Father Parent into marrying Chris's sister and Mehmet Ali, an agnostic Turkish man who had never set foot in this country, let alone a Catholic church, until his wedding day.

I had to hand it to Louise, she was tough. When an earthquake and then a hurricane threatened to call off her daughter's nuptials, Louise refused to bow down, even to Mother Nature. She put her congressman on speed dial and left bottles of apple brandy at Father Parent's back door until she was assured Mehmet Ali would get into the country, out of the church's mandatory premarital counseling and to the church on time.

Who are you again? Father Parent asked us when we knocked on the rectory door. Oh yes, your mother, he said with a shudder, when it finally dawned on him who we were.

After consulting his schedule book, Father Parent assured us that everything was in order. Just make sure you are ready to go down the aisle at 11 a.m. sharp because there is another ceremony immediately following yours, he said.

Father, you must be mistaken, our ceremony is at 2 p.m., Chris corrected him.

Oh no, you are mistaken. Martha Stewart's editor is getting married at 2 p.m, he cooed, his voice breathy with excitement and anticipation like a child talking about Santa Claus's imminent arrival.

Expletives shot out of my mouth before I remembered I was in the house of the Lord. Of all people, Martha Stewart's editor knew you couldn't just waltz into a church and make a last-minute wedding reservation. Heck, I had my hair appointment booked a year in advance, but see where that got me?

Even after I produced the confirmation letter documentation Martha told me to always have on hand, the star struck priest would not back down. Maybe you can find her and sort things out, he said. She was just here.

This was crazy. I never even wanted to get married in a church and now I had to compete with the matriarch of weddings herself to defend my place at the altar. I was as ill-prepared for the fight as a graying Sylvester Stallone trying to defend himself against Mr. T in Rocky III.

Walking back through town, the normally reticent fishing community of Boothbay was suddenly ga-ga over the news that had spread like cheap margarine on a dinner roll at the Ebb Tide Inn. Every conversation I overheard, someone was speculating whether Martha would be overseeing her editor's wedding arrangements, which restaurants Martha and her editor would eat at and whether any of the shopkeepers would be featured in her magazine as a result.

Most annoying was the town's naive assumption that this editor was Martha's closest confidant, never considering she could be one of an army of editorial assistants that didn't even get to use the same bathroom as Martha.

While I crumbled in defeat like a soiled cocktail napkin, Chris suited up and got ready to rumble. Driving around town with a wild look in his eye, he scanned every passing car and pedestrian to find and confront this nameless, faceless woman.

This is ridiculous, we don't even know what she looks like, I said. Bingo he said, spotting a black SUV with Connecticut plates. Screeching to a halt, Chris nearly grazed the back bumper. For sure, Martha Stewart's editor is from Connecticut, he said, switching off the ignition to wait.

An hour later, Martha Stewart's editor was still at large, so Chris did what all desperate men do in crisis situations: He called his mommy.

You tell Father Parent that I already sent out the invitations, Louise said, without a moment's hesitation.

Are you telling me to lie to a priest? Chris said incredulously.

You're going to be serving waffles and orange juice at your 11 a.m. reception if you don't tell him exactly what I just told you, Louise snapped back.

Father Parent looked at us in disbelief when we returned to the rectory. Who sends their invitations out this early, he protested. That's crazy. It's only February.

Do you want me to call my mother? Chris asked, holding out his cell phone. She happens to be in town.

No, no, that won't be necessary, said Father Parent, pushing the phone away as if Satan himself was on the line.

Victory is sweet indeed. I heard through the grapevine that Martha Stewart's editor was looking at the Methodist church, which wasn't nearly as pretty as Our Lady Queen of Peace. Jeff came crawling back to me, too. I never asked, but I got the feeling she dumped him.

It was also nice to have Louise on my side for a change. And in the end, I had to admit that the traditional church ceremony was one of the highlights of my wedding day -- second only to watching the fireworks display Martha Stewart's editor gave herself. As red, white and blue bursts lit up the sky over Boothbay Harbor, I realized with glee that from our hilltop reception my guests had the better view.

While in high school, a friend of mine and some buddies of his had a mannequin named Sally. They successfully registered her as a student at their school. Sally was in the homecoming court, participated in the parade and had her picture in the yearbook. Several years later, my friend was getting married. At the time, I worked a a screen printing shop and we had a mannequin. As a joke, I decided that Sally needed to attend his wedding.

With the aid of some female friends, we got Sally dressed up and ready to go. She sat on the second row during the ceremony (we had to take her legs off) and then moved to the reception hall where she served cake. After the wedding, my friends and I found out which hotel they were going to for their wedding night. Thanks to a hotel manager with a sense of humor we were able to put Sally in the bed wearing lingerie. When they arrived, I hear that the bride had a few choice words and ordered him to get that thing out of there. He had to call his parents to come get it. A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from his mom. She told me come get this d**n thing out of her garage because every time she saw it, it scared her to death. I have quite a few wedding prank stories but this is the best one.

Marty Gordon
Seattle, Wash.

The covered pier at the resort in Key West, Fla. cost $1000 to reserve, but it was free if we wanted to just wing it. We didn't have a spare grand, so we gambled. It was wide open on our wedding day, except for one thing...after we had all our guests, minister, and guitar-strummer assembled...they started filming MTV's Summer Beach Party on the beach right beside us. The only thing you can hear on our wedding video is a monster bass and Banarama blasting out Cruel, Cruel Summer....

Diana Abu Jaber
Miami, Fla.


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Tien (Le) San Lucas

    From Houston, TX, 11/11/2010

    This was so much fun to read. Oh, the irony of it all, and the fireworks to top it off!!

    By Claudia Sokoloff

    From Saratoga Springs, NY, 01/14/2009

    Wow- I am impressed. Brooke Williams writing is a rare treat.

    By Guy Williams

    From Monticello, IL, 06/24/2008

    I wasn't able to hear the original broadcast because the local station in Chicago was having a pledge drive. I very much enjoyed the article and audio on your website. As father of the bride, who walked Brooke down the aisle, I can attest that Our Lady Queen of Peace Church was worth fighting over. It was a lovely white frame church on a hill overlooking Booth Bay Harbor. I will never forget the vision when I walaked out of the front door of the church after the wedding ceremony and looked at the bay. The sky was a beautiful blue with fluffy white clouds. The waves shimmered in the afternoon sunshine. Sailboats appeared in the bay, as well as the boats in the harbor. It was magnificent. Jeff did a great job on Brooke's hair; she was lovely.

    By Jacquie Severns

    From Traverse City, MI, 06/22/2008

    Yes, Brooke is a talented lady and a very nice person. I did not attend the wedding, but feel after this story as if I had. As a young person she was very curious and bright and now she is a fantastic mother who will nourish her children and pass on to them her qualities.

    By amy MacIntyre

    From Albany, NY, 06/21/2008

    What a fun and hilarious story. Brooke Williams is a talented and witty writer. I want more(!) It would be great to hear more stories from Ms. Williams. How refreshing and wonderful. Nice choice Weekend America.

    By Coco Cobb

    From Savoy, IL, 06/21/2008

    Having attended the wedding, which Martha herself would have been proud of - I must say that one of the best things was that every subsequent year that I would visit the newlyweds (6+ and counting) there was always a big platter of table-water crackers to feast upon before dinner and/or throughout the day. Many times, that was actually the only food item in their pantry. Along with the carton of live lobsters I would haul back to Illinois (with people constantly appproaching me with large amounts of cash for them at O'Hare airport) - there were always a couple boxes of table-water crackers stashed in my luggage. Although the bride is not one to go for a "hair-do" - her first official one, done by Jeff, was ideal for what was without question one of the most picturesque and classy weddings I have ever attended (besides my own of course). Unlike my wedding, however, Martha's editor did throw Brooke and Chris a great fireworks display that we all fully enjoyed - the view we had was easily the best in town. I look forward to my next trek out to Maine to visit Brooke, Chris (and now their two little ones) and know that I have a cracked pepper table-water cracker to look forward to before dinner.

    By Sue Shade

    From Decatur, IL, 06/21/2008

    Brooke Williams is fantastic. I laughed until I cried during most of the article. But also being a mother of sons only, I was a little sensative about poor Louise. But in the end she finished it perfectly- Louise did have her moment in the sun.

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