The Happiest, Most Disappointing Day of My Life

Two years ago, when Mr. Butterfly and I were planning our wedding, I called my dad to make sure he would be able to attend. This is my second marriage, but my ex-husband and I eloped. No one was involved. This time, I wanted the whole sha-bang. My dad told me he already had his plane tickets bought.

See, Mr. Butterfly and I decided to get married in Las Vegas partly because a lot of his relatives live there and because if we were going to invite other friends from all across the country to our wedding, Las Vegas seemed like a much better destination than the podunk town we actually live in.

So, over the course of the next few months before the wedding, I talked to my dad off and on. Our conversations always ended with a “see you in Vegas!” send-off.

Fast-forward to the day of the wedding: I was getting ready for the limo from the chapel to come pick me up early so I could have my hair done and makeup applied. At exactly four hours before the ceremony was scheduled to take place, my cell phone rang. It was my dad.

He told me that he had arrived at his local airport to catch his flight. At the ticket counter, the agent noticed that his ticket was bought for a flight that wasn’t scheduled until the next day. He told me he went on standby for any flight to Vegas and even offered money to fellow standby passengers, but to no avail. Finally, he gave up and left the airport. It was at that point he decided to call me. In the same phone call, he broke the news to me that my two younger half-sisters would be unable to attend because they “got into some trouble” and their mother took the plane tickets back and refused to let them go.

After the phone call, I just let the phone fall out of my hands to the floor, crawled into bed, and sobbed for about an hour. My brother had arrived in Vegas a couple hours earlier, so I called him to ask if he would walk me down the aisle in place of our dad. Without hesitation, he said he would. Finally, I pulled myself together, got dressed, and went to the lobby of the hotel to meet the limousine. I nearly threw up in the limo, and once I got to the chapel, I was shaking.

The wedding ceremony and the reception turned out to be great. Everyone who flew into Vegas had a wonderful time. The next morning, my husband’s cousin hosted a fabulous brunch for everyone from the guest list who could make it.

The problem is, as wonderful as everything was, I can’t help remembering how horrible it felt that my dad and my sisters weren’t going to be there. I love my brother to death for stepping in like he did, but that doesn’t erase the void left by my dad’s and my sisters’ absence.

To this day, he and I have never spoken of it. My sisters have never offered any kind of explanation as to what “trouble” they got into with their mother. No one has apologized. My ex-stepmother has never said a word to justify how she would allow my sisters to renege on a valid RSVP when all my life, I was taught by her that I was obligated to follow through with commitments no matter what the circumstances. I remember getting in trouble once when I was younger. I was to be grounded for two weeks, but I had already been invited to some birthday party or something and had RSVP’d for it. I had to go to that party because I had already said I would, then I had to continue with the punishment of being grounded!

Anyway, the point is, I can’t seem to forgive my dad, sisters, and stepmother for any of this. My dad could’ve looked at the itinerary to make sure everything was fine. My sisters could’ve stayed out of trouble for a couple months. My stepmother could’ve decided that attending my wedding was more important to me than any sort of punishment was for her two adult daughters.

Does anyone have any wedding day gone bad stories? I would love to commiserate with someone… :wink:

Well, my dad is dead and so he won’t be participating in my wedding. Does that make you feel any better? I don’t understand why your dad didn’t fly out the next day and join in the festivities that followed since that’s when his plane ticket was for? I also don’t understand why you can’t talk to any of them about it if you can’t seem to forgive them over it?

Mine too.

As for the plane ticket screwup, my father-in-law and mother-in-law - who fly several times a year - once showed up for their flight a day ahead of the actual scheduled flight. Stupid crap happens, and it does suck that your father messed up, but I’m sure he feels like absolute shit for it, and maybe he’s too ashamed to say anything. As for your sisters, I don’t know, but just stewing about it won’t get you anywhere.

My wedding day woes? OK, I’ll stick to the problems that only happened that day (there were numerous others in the planning):

  • One sister-in-law walked in during the ceremony, having even missed the vows. She lives in a nearby suburb, went to that church when she was a kid, and the wedding was 11:00 am or so, so she had no excuse. She also arrived without her then-husband and his two kids, so we had to suck it up and pay for 3 uneaten meals. (They didn’t have an excuse, either.)

  • Same sister-in-law and another SIL got in a yelling match at the reception which apparently started with accusations over which one was the anorexic and got worse from there. Fortunately a third SIL hustled them outside for the real meat of the argument and few people heard anything.

  • My husband and I put a lot of importance on the food served. After getting our plates, we went around to the various tables to say hello - we’d opted against a receiving line to speed everyone off to the reception - and while we were away from the table, the catering staff cleared our full plates when the wedding party wasn’t paying attention. By the time we got back, what little food was left was being packed up.

  • We bought the alcohol on consignment with the intention of returning any unopened spare bottles; the caterer knew this. Their bartender opened all of the liquor bottles - yes, duplicate bottles of the same brands/types of hard alcohol were all opened at once, and thus many unused but open bottles were wasted because we couldn’t return them.

  • My relatives monopolized the DJ with numerous song requests but didn’t dance to them. We finally got sick of watching no one dance to music that half the crowd didn’t like (and half did but wouldn’t dance to), requested fairly innocuous rock music, and most of my relatives left.

  • I accidentally slammed a groomsman’s hand in a van door. Thank god it was after the reception and he was fine.

Life isn’t about getting what you want, it is how you deal with things when Plan B fails. (Cause that is how most of life operates: on Plan B)
Be thankful that your father is alive and healthy and you will have many years with him ( and your new hubby!)


I always wanted to get married in Vegas.

I think that was really hateful of your stepmother. But do try to let it go…things like that can eat at you and ruin your enjoyment of life.

Write down all the resentments that are bothering you. Cuss, moan, bitch and whine. Say everything you would like to say to the parties who caused you pain on your special day.

Then take the paper and burn it. Let all the resentment go with the smoke.

  1. Ask your Dad about it. Say something like, “Look, Dad, I know it ought to be water under the bridge, but it isn’t. Thing is, this was the most important day of my life, and you were one of the most important parts of it, and you didn’t show up. I know it was maybe just a mistake or what have you, but it really killed me that you weren’t there, and I guess I just need to talk about it with you, just talk it out, so I can try to understand and deal with it. I’m sorry if this seems to be coming out of nowhere, but I don’t want to feel resentment or anything, I want to deal with my feelings about this.”

  2. Is there any possibility at all that maybe your stepmom DIDN’T take those tickets away? Maybe there’s something behind the “mom took the tix away” story that they were afraid or ashamed to tell you.

  3. Again, whatever it is that happened, you MUST ask. You MUST. If they haven’t mentioned it, it’s likely because they’re either ashamed, or unaware. One way or another, it MUST be talked through, or you’ll resent your family. And you seem to love them a great deal, so the best bet is to get this aired out as soon as possible. Please.

Did your dad show up the next day, as scheduled?

Is there any possibility that he and your sisters never planned to attend, for financial reasons (couldn’t afford the fare or couldn’t get time off from work), or that he was ill, and he couldn’t bear to tell you?

I guess it doesn’t matter, because the result is the same. But if they couldn’t come and didn’t want to put a damper on your pre-wedding happiness, that puts a different spin on it.

Like CarlyJay said, talk to your dad and your stepmom. Enough time has passed that if things didn’t happen like they said, they might 'fess up. Then you’ll know what you have to forgive.

I just can’t imagine getting a plane ticket and itinerary and not doublechecking the date. I also can’t imagine that most airports don’t have tons of Vegas flights. Heck, he could have flown to someplace nearby and rented a car.

On a more positive note, one way to get rid of that bad experience is to replace it with a good one. Any chance your dad and sisters could get together with you and your husband in Vegas for a fun weekend?

I can. It happens. My BIL once thought he had a flight to our city on December 23, when it was in fact on the 24th, thus wrecking all our Christmas travel plans because he was supposed to be in the car with us, on the way to family stuff. He only figured it out at the airport. Luckily it all worked out somehow, and we didn’t miss Christmas, but I was pretty unhappy for a while there.

Stuff happens. We put too much emphasis on events. Isn’t more like gifts, where its the thought that counts? He tried. Give him that - he tried to be there.

That sucks.

If I ever get married, I’m reasonably sure my father won’t be there to celebrate with me. He’s in the process of dying. As shitty as it was that it fell out like that, remember that you still have a daddy, and he tried to be there, as far as you know.

As for your stepmother, well - that’s just kinda rude. But there’s nothing you can do about THAT, except ask.


Deep down, I know that “stuff happens,” and to some extent, I have “forgiven” them. Maybe it’s just that I can’t forget. I’ll just always know that they weren’t there to share in the joy.

My dad didn’t take the flight the next day. Instead, he took the time to verify my mailing address so that he could send a wedding present (as if that were a suitable substitute for his presence). But he never did send that present. No matter. It’s a subject of mirth with my husband and me from time to time. “Hey, did my dad’s wedding present ever come in the mail?” I’ll ask. “Not this week,” he’ll respond.

Yes, my dad is alive and well. For that, I am thankful. But my mother isn’t alive and well. She couldn’t be there to witness my marriage to a guy who she probably knew would take good care of me and love me. I wasn’t able to have either parent there to take part in it, and one of them had no excuse. If the same thing happened in reverse, I’d never hear the end of it. “Why didn’t you check your tickets?” would be the soundtrack of my nightmares.

I’m sure my dad feels guilty. I’ve tried to be sensitive to that, but when I had the opportunity to visit with him after the wedding, I was showing the pictures around to my family, and he made a great effort to not pay any attention to it. I sat next to him to let him flip through the photos, and all he would say is, “You had too much makeup on.”

I know for a fact that financial worries had nothing to do with my sisters’ inability to attend. There is a long sordid history between my stepmom and me (for reasons I’ve never understood) that have contributed to whatever happened. So, whatever.

Beyond all of that, my marriage is secure. My memories of spending time with our wedding guests are bright and strong. I wouldn’t change a thing about my wedding except to have three other people there. And my family isn’t the kind of family that I can sit down with and say, “Hey, this thing that you didn’t do for me still bothers me.” It’s not that I “stew” about it. What happens is, I’ll think back to my wedding day. All of the separate events that made up the entire trip to Vegas are just accompanied by the reality that when I look at the photographs from the wedding and the reception, my dad and my sisters weren’t there to support us.

If you tell yourself you can’t forget and can’t move on, then you program yourself not to be able to. If you tell yourself you can forget about it and move on, then you program yourself to be able to. What’s past is past and can’t be fixed or changed.

On the one hand, I’m sorry your big day didn’t turn out how you wanted. Then again, in real life things seldom go according to plan. You have a choice. You can either see this as ‘things going wrong’ or you can see it as ‘things going differently’. We can’t always choose whether things will go ‘differently’ and how we’ll feel when they do. But we can choose how cheerfully we deal with them and we can choose our responses, including our emotional responses. Really, when you look at the privileges, comforts and conveniences we live with every day in the ‘developed’ world, it’s a crime not to be happy and content. There are probably at least 100 million people in the world who would love to have your problems for a day.

Yes, “things happen” but I would be very pissed off if my family couldn’t be arsed to attend my wedding! Seriously.

It isn’t just another day. That sucks.

Having said that, resentments only torture me, not the person I’m pissed at…

The OP needs an answer as to why it happened before she can move on. And she deserves on, I feel. If you have to forgive someone without any reasons, you can do it - god knows I’ve had to - but your relationship will never be the same again. Always there will be that unspoken thing between you.

I recommend you ask your dad gently - dad, what happened?


It seems to me that some people on here are being a bit insensitive to the OP’s feelings. I mean, yes, her family’s still alive, and she seems to be thankful for that and she obviously loves them very much, which is why her feelings were hurt. I really think that whether or not “stuff happens” isn’t the issue here.

It would seem to me, Cruel Butterfly, that what happened here was a mixture of mass miscommunication and simple thoughtlessness. You seem to be a very rational and thoughtful person. This was the most important day of your life, and OF COURSE you wanted to share that with the most important people of your life. That is not at all strange, and it’s not irrational at ALL for you to be upset and hurt, no matter what people on here are saying.

The fact that your Dad didn’t showup at ALL… not even the next day… much less send a gift, a card… AND made that comment about your wedding pictures. It seems to me that he was either very thoughtless about this, or there is something between the lines that he never told you.

Again, I think it’s sort of blase for people to just tell you “stuff happens, be grateful for what you have”. Of course you’re grateful. Of course stuff happens. But this is an issue that your dad and sisters should have addressed. The fact that they have not is an indication that either there is a bigger problem at hand, or they are completely unaware of how much this hurt you.

In order to keep yourself sane, and your family relationships strong, the only way to deal with this is to be honest. Address your feelings. Fact is, it may create a stronger bond with your family than there was before if those lines of communication are opened.

I have a feeling they want to talk about it, too, but they don’t know how.

Congratulations on your beautiful wedding, and best of luck with the family. :slight_smile:

My dad had emergency spinal surgery 2 days before my wedding. We got married at the hospital. Later that day, we went through the whole thing again at the “real” ceremony. We were already married at that point, but only a few people knew. My dad obviously did not make it to the reception, and I never got my father daughter dance since he never walked again.
Shit happens indeed. :frowning:

My brother, who was supposed to be my best man, flew in from Seattle in very bad shape because 1. He was a junkie and was coming down, and 2. Took God-Knows-What and drank heavily on the flight, nearly getting kicked off in the process. When he arrived, he was utterly uncontrollable and we had a row, much to the horror of my wife’s friend, who she hadn’t seen in years. I had to call 911 to see if there was something I could give my brother to alleviate his “symptoms”; I got no useful info, but 5 minutes later, the cops came. I had to explain to them that I was looking for medical advice, not cops, and sent them away. Thankfully, my Dad showed up and my brother straightened up a bit. We decided my brother was in no shape to be in my wedding or our family and friends’ presence, so I took him to the airport to put him back on the plane to Seattle. I went to my “rehearsal dinner” in a funk.

Cue forward to 6:30 am the next day (my wedding day). I recieve a phone call from my brother. He’s in Southeast DC, not Seattle. Apparently, he must’ve decided to go try score some drugs before his flight, which was 2 hours after I dropped him off the previous day. In the process, he got rolled, or so he said. I had to buy him a $2000 plane ticket and put him on a plane. This time I made sure he left. But it wasn’t over yet. A couple of hours later, he calls me from Chicago, where he had a two hour layover. He was very drunk and raving and said he wasn’t getting on the plane. I told him to fuck off and go home and hung up. Apparently, he made it home, but not without the pilot threatening to land the plane if he didn’t straighten up. Miraculously, he wasn’t charged with anything.

My Dad stood in for my brother as best man, and it was great; since he (my Dad)died a few years later, I’m actually glad it turned out that way.

I’m so sorry that happened to you. I know a couple who married earlier than expected because the groom’s mother had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. They thought she didn’t have a lot of time left, and wanted her to know that they were happy together and had committed themselves to one another before she went. As it turned out, the couple still got to have their big ceremony with dress, tuxes, bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc. in a second ceremony that the mother was able to attend at a later date.

It was very special for everyone to be able to witness that. Since then, the mother’s health has taken a downward turn, but at least she, as well as the couple, will always know that everyone got to take part in it.

An Arky, talk about a fiasco! Sorry to hear about your dad. Losing a parent is tough long after the loss. Out of curiosity, is your brother doing okay now?

Thanks, and good luck to you. Looking back, at least I can say I had an interesting wedding. The hospital staff got very into the whole thing - decorated the room, got my dad dressed in his tux, and made sure he got food from the reception for dinner.
While I was waiting for everyone to get there, they hid me in the ajoining room which happened to be occupied by a woman with Alzheimers. She was strapped to the bed because she kept trying to leave and was in there for a broken hip. So for the 5 minutes I was in there the conversation went something like:

Her: Oh you look beautiful! Can you let me go?
Me: Thank you. I’m sorry, but I’m not your nurse. Can I call the nurse for you?


Her: Oh you look beautiful! Can you let me go?
Me: Thanks. I’m sorry, I can’t undo that.


It was so sad and surreal, but it makes me chuckle a little bit now. Definitely, a weird day.

It wouldn’t surprise me if he just isn’t comfortable with me being married to and having children with a much older guy. I’ve considered that to be a real possibility. It’s okay for him to feel that way, of course, but it would’ve been better to have known that outright than for him to lead me to believe he would be there for months if he never intended to be there in the first place.

My dad is a different sort. Even my brother has said that. He’s never been the type to be outwardly demonstrative of his affections, and he keeps his emotions and opinions under tight control. You’ll never know what he’s thinking or feeling, and he isn’t one to volunteer that information very willingly.

Ferret Herder, have you ever wished you had been a fly on the wall to witness the “meat of the argument” between your sisters-in-law after they were ushered out of the building? Also, my husband and I work in catering. We’ve catered many, many wedding receptions from simple hors d’oeuvres to grand double-entree sit-down dinners, and if I was cruising around the tables looking for plates to pick up, I most certainly wouldn’t take full plates. It sounds like the catering staff at your reception was a little incompetent. The first thing we find out when planning banquets of that nature is: where are the bride and groom sitting? How can we orchestrate this banquet so that they don’t have to worry about a single thing?