Sometimes I think I've seen enough crazy to produce a TV show called "Wedding Guests Gone Wild," except watching my brides and grooms suffer through their friends' antics isn't entertaining for me.
I've blogged before about how some destination wedding guests act like they're on Spring Break when they're lucky enough to be invited to a wedding someplace beautiful with beaches and rum drinks. Even some of the most normal, professional men and women in the world completely lose it.
Sadly, if they act badly enough, their actions may never be forgiven, even if they apologize afterwards. It isn't easy to forget what some jerk did on the most important day of your life. Certainly, the rest of your guests won't be forgetting anytime soon.
Twice in the past three months, groomsmen have behaved so badly their very first night on the island that they've been asked to bow out of the wedding before the big day. It was traumatic both times, and both grooms were devastated by their buddies' behavior. But the antics were so egregious that there was no way the groomsman could stay.
Sometimes, it becomes my problem. Other weddings, I only hear about it (in great detail) after things have exploded to the point of no return. Since I don't know all the history behind the relationships, I'm reluctant to say "kick that asshat out of your wedding." I'm more likely to look for the "sane" one in the wedding party who can talk some sense into the one behaving badly. It doesn't always work.
You're going to notice a common theme in the two stories I'm about to tell you - alcohol abuse.
We had a welcome party this spring that was going fabulously well when our wedding planning team left. But that didn't last long. Too many drinks and one groomsman was hitting on every female he encountered. Not just making verbal passes, but being touchy-feely too. Of course, not all of his intended victims were single. And not all of their significant others were sober or willing to tolerate such rude behavior. As the night went on, he got more drunk and aggressive. When he went after the brother of the bride's fiancé, all bets were off. Frankly, I think we're lucky we didn't have an entire wedding party with black eyes the next morning.
He showed up for rehearsal just as I finished getting the lowdown from the bride. He stayed through the rehearsal dinner beach party and, when I left, I assumed he'd be in the wedding the next day. He wasn't drinking anymore. He had made apologies. He was contrite. The Mother of the Bride wanted me to toss him off the beach at the pig roast but I convinced her the scene wasn't worth it because he had stopped the behavior. I also told her that kicking him out of the wedding was a decision ONLY the groom could make, upon consultation with the bride, of course.
Other wedding guests were not nice to him at the rehearsal dinner. Some were overtly rude. Suddenly, everybody felt entitled to sit in judgment and talk about his shenanigans as if he weren't right there. I imagine he was humiliated, but I never saw him look up and engage. The Mother of the Bride even joked about turning her fork into a shiv if he tried touching her future daughter-in-law again... and that might have been taking things a bit too far.
The next morning, he got on a plane and headed home. The other groomsmen and he discussed it and decided that in the interest of keeping his friendship with the groom, he needed to disappear. He was right. That was a good call. I'm glad his friends counseled him well. They kept telling me what a nice guy he really is. Um, yeah. Sure. Because nice guys always try to ruin their friend's wedding on the first night they arrive. But at least he left of his own accord.
Recently, I had a more extreme "Groomsman Gone Wild" scenario to tackle that was much worse. He showed up really intoxicated guy at the welcome event. He was literally drooling and making no sense at 7 pm when he arrived, and I was not impressed. The bride grimaced when she saw him. I asked her if he was going to be our "Uncle Charley" - that's code for the one big jerk in the group - and she immediately confirmed my suspicions.
Within 10 minutes of arrival, he asked my husband if he wanted to "smoke some dope" with him. No, weed is not legal in Puerto Rico. Yes, my husband was a SWAT commander for 30 years. And there is a whole section in the welcome letter about our "Zero Tolerance Policy" for illegal substances at wedding events.
I alerted the bride to the problem and she pointed out the Best Man and said he'd handle it. I went to him for help and we bonded. The other groomsman was a doll too, and they placed themselves on jerkwad babysitting duty. One of them even stopped drinking, just in case. But it didn't help. When the offending gentleman couldn't get drugs from any of the wedding guests, he moved on to the regular patrons at the restaurant who weren't part of our group.
I have NEVER had a venue ask me to remove a patron from a wedding event before, but there's a first time for everything. I went to the nice groomsmen for help. No need to upset the bride and groom.
The sober one took on the duty of taking drunk-boy back to the villa they were sharing on the other side of the island, giving up his chance to have fun at the party so it wouldn't be ruined for the bride and groom. I dreaded the next day but hoped, like the groomsman a few months before, that he would at least be contrite.
I was brushing my teeth before bed when my husband called out that my phone was ringing. At exactly midnight. Just for the record, that's NEVER a good sign for a wedding planner. It was the bride. She was hysterical. I heard the words "fistfight" and "police" and started throwing on clothes while my husband did the same. She'd said the cops had come and gone and the guy was still at their villa (nowhere near where he was staying), so I was dialing our local police station to find out what was up as my husband drove.
The property where they were staying was inside the gates of a posh hotel, although the villas are all privately owned and not a part of the hotel's security team's responsibility. But when somebody gets crazy and runs loose onto the hotel's grounds, they get involved quickly. We met the police and security at the gate, and together we found the guy hiding in some bushes. He was arrested.
Long story short, he was taken home and then decided to leave to find the groom. Their accommodations were miles apart so he tried walking and almost got his drunk butt beat up by behaving badly in the middle of an island festival located between his start and end point, and the police brought him to the bride and groom's villa because that's where he told them he was staying. They dumped him in a "not my problem" manner and left. Then it really did become their problem.
The groomsman shoved the bride, and threw a water bottle of the Mother of the Bride's head. When the groom stepped in between, fists started flying. Both sides were punching, but the groom was the only one sober enough to make contact, fortunately for wedding photos.
The only reason they didn't press charges was because we have to go to another island to go to court, and they would have missed their own wedding rehearsal and beach party the next day. Instead, the police tossed him in the drunk tank for the night with a warning to us that he'd be released first thing in the morning. I talked to him and explained that if he showed up anywhere near any of the wedding festivities, he would be arrested and he would be charged and we would all take the ferry over to make sure his ass stayed in jail after his arraignment. I suggested he shorten his trip and leave the island and he agreed. The nice groomsman who was still sober went and got the guy's luggage and dumped it at the police station so he would have it.
He didn't leave Vieques, but he didn't show up at anything else he wasn't supposed to. I got text messages (complete with pics) from vendors all over the island, all weekend, of this guy raising hell, refusing an ambulance after getting his ass beat by somebody else he'd offended, etc.
The wedding was flawless. The bride was exquisite. The ENTIRE wedding party was wonderful. Both families were gracious. But despite their best efforts not to have everybody find out about the police incident, everybody knew.
Being asked to be a member of a wedding party IS AN HONOR. Whatever your role, you are supposed to behave with dignity and decorum. You aren't supposed to upset the bride and groom or their parents, no matter what. Getting drunk and behaving horribly is a travesty and it is, truly, unforgivable by most people's standard.
If you know you have a tendency to overdrink, don't drink at all. Having a reputation as "that guy" before you even arrive means the person has a serious issue of some kind or the other. You have to behave or you shouldn't agree to be in the wedding party. Blame it on finances, work, or whatever, but don't go to a wedding knowing full well that you're going to ruin it (especially if you've done it before).
For the brides and grooms I'll say this: Think carefully before choosing your wedding party. If you don't want chaos, don't invite the person who usually creates it to be part of your biggest day. And definitely don't ask them to be a part of your wedding party. Somebody who has an active substance abuse problem (or some other major malfunction) isn't going to leave it at home when they pack for your wedding. You have a lot of control over preventing these sorts of incidents simply by keeping your wedding party small and excluding the trouble-makers.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!