Wedding 911

How to handle no-show/runaway bride or groom at ceremony

I will be the maid of honor for a friend's wedding in a couple months, and I'm concerned that either the bride- or groom-to-be might back out at the last second. As in, during the ceremony. Obviously this scenario is not what I want for them and I realize it is not about me, but I don't want to be standing up there at the altar with everyone staring at me while no one knows what to do.

So my question is: in the immediate aftermath of a no-show or runaway bride/groom, what are the duties of the bridal party?

Should we escort the bride out of the church if he doesn't show? Should we try to go find her if she doesn't show? Should one of us stay behind to make some kind of announcement to the guests? I don't think it's that likely I'll need to know--maybe a 20% chance--but it would make me feel a lot better to have some kind of plan in my head just in case. 

Re: How to handle no-show/runaway bride or groom at ceremony

  • Why are you concerned one or the other might back out? Have they done or said anything?
    MesmrEwe
  • I'm so intrigued as to why you are worried about this (although to be fair I was a BM in a wedding that I was sure wasn't actually going to happen). 

    Won't you be with the bride before hand? This you'll know if she doesn't go to the church. If she doesn't come down the aisle someone will tell the officiant and the hosts and they'll deal. If the groom doesn't show, be there for the bride. 
    OliveOilsMomlizybeff
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston
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  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest
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    Woah...this is interesting.

    But, as a BM, you would know before you arrived at the alter. The bridesmaids would all be in a room waiting for the ceremony to start, and if there is no groom, the processional won't begin. If there is no bride, the processional won't begin.

    It sounds like she's even worried that one of them would literally leave at the altar, in the middle of the ceremony.

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  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey
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    Is this an episode of Friends? 

    If groom doesn't show, you support the bride as best you can.  If the groom doesn't show, as a PP pointed out, there would be no processional.  You should know early in the day if the bride is a no-show.  I would imagine you will be getting ready with her or asked to join her at a certain time before the ceremony to start pictures.

    If either the bride or groom leaves the middle of the ceremony.  First, if it were the groom, I would quickly grab bride and take her away to the closest exit where she can be away from all the guests.  If the bride were to leave, I would probably stand there shocked and follow other peoples leads. 

    If one party doesn't show or leaves, the hosts have a decision to make about the reception.  I would not make any announcements on behalf of anyone.

    OurWildKingdommollybarker11
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest
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    Is this your friend? Has there been a history of this before?



    But really, I'd suggest if it's the groom leaving in the midst of the ceremony, escorting the bride to the closest exit, and the other guests will figure out what to do.

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    spockforprezholyguacamole79lembasloverwink0erin
  • Honestly as crazy as this sounds, I had a friend who got married last summer. The week before the wedding my good friend/her MOH confided in me she wasn't sure the wedding would happen bc of a series of fights they had been having and the groom's statements that included "you better be careful [with what you say] or I won't be waiting for you at the end of the aisle next week." Aside from ALL the red flags in that relationship my friend/the MOH said her peace to the bride and then stood up for her bc the bride insisted on going through. Day of the wedding, I kept wondering if I'd get a text saying it wasn't happening, and MOH kept texting me hoping it would go smoothly but she as worried too. 

    So, I don't think the OP is crazy for wanting to be prepared if she thinks it won't happen. Good luck, OP. I think PPs have given good suggestions on what to do if this scenario does happen. 
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    OurWildKingdomMesmrEweVivandiere8
  • Thanks for the honest and helpful answers! They have put my mind at ease, at least about this little detail, ha!

    I don't want to get into anything too specific, but they originally got engaged and started planning the wedding because they thought they needed to get married before a big event in their lives. Big event didn't wind up happening but they decided to follow through on the wedding anyway. Since then they've each talked to me separately about their concerns about rushing the wedding and not being sure about it and maybe postponing it etc. I've listened and calmed them down and talked them through it, and I will 100% support them if they go through with the wedding because they do seem to make each other happy, but the number of panicked phone calls I've fielded at 2 am makes me wonder if one of them will panic and back out at the last minute.
  • CMGragainCMGragain
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    edited April 2016
    This is not your problem.  It is for the bride's family to deal with.  If there is a pastor who is officiating, he/she will be of help, also.
    Don't anticipate,  Just keep quiet and do your job.
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    holyguacamole79tigerlily6
  • MobKaz said:
    Thanks for the honest and helpful answers! They have put my mind at ease, at least about this little detail, ha!

    I don't want to get into anything too specific, but they originally got engaged and started planning the wedding because they thought they needed to get married before a big event in their lives. Big event didn't wind up happening but they decided to follow through on the wedding anyway. Since then they've each talked to me separately about their concerns about rushing the wedding and not being sure about it and maybe postponing it etc. I've listened and calmed them down and talked them through it, and I will 100% support them if they go through with the wedding because they do seem to make each other happy, but the number of panicked phone calls I've fielded at 2 am makes me wonder if one of them will panic and back out at the last minute.
    To be honest, I am not sure that encouraging them to "go through with it" is necessarily the best advice.  I hope, at the very least, it has been suggested that postponing or cancelling the wedding PRIOR to it happening, would be a far better scenario than running away the day of the wedding, or divorcing shortly after the fact. 

    They have both spoken to you about their feelings and concerns.  Have they spoken to each other?
    ^^All of this. I know some women who had doubts before getting married. One didn't say anything and the other's mother bullied her into going through with it. Surprise, surprise, the one is divorced and engaged to someone else just three years later and the other has been divorced twice and is now on her third husband.
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  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
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    MobKaz said:
    Thanks for the honest and helpful answers! They have put my mind at ease, at least about this little detail, ha!

    I don't want to get into anything too specific, but they originally got engaged and started planning the wedding because they thought they needed to get married before a big event in their lives. Big event didn't wind up happening but they decided to follow through on the wedding anyway. Since then they've each talked to me separately about their concerns about rushing the wedding and not being sure about it and maybe postponing it etc. I've listened and calmed them down and talked them through it, and I will 100% support them if they go through with the wedding because they do seem to make each other happy, but the number of panicked phone calls I've fielded at 2 am makes me wonder if one of them will panic and back out at the last minute.
    To be honest, I am not sure that encouraging them to "go through with it" is necessarily the best advice.  I hope, at the very least, it has been suggested that postponing or cancelling the wedding PRIOR to it happening, would be a far better scenario than running away the day of the wedding, or divorcing shortly after the fact. 

    They have both spoken to you about their feelings and concerns.  Have they spoken to each other?
    I agree with @MobKaz's response.  I think second thoughts and some cold feet is pretty normal.  I certainly had, and I certainly still have after we've had a fight or when we're just not on the same page about something, second thoughts at times.  It is far better to call off the wedding or postpone it beforehand than get a divorce later. If they try to talk to you about it again, I'd try to encourage them, but also let them know it's ok to slow down and tell them to talk it out with each other. If they don't talk to you again about it, I'd maybe try to broach the subject. Ask, "I know you had some concerns you talked to me about it earlier. How are you feeling? Have you tried talking to groom about it? etc."

    OurWildKingdomOliveOilsMom
  • I had a phone call from my pastor one Friday night.  (I was the church organist.)   It seems that the couple decided not to get married after all.  The wedding had been scheduled for the next day.  Oh, well.  Glad they had the courage to call it off.
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    MesmrEweSP29short+sassy
  • Because you've had more than one of these conversations with both the Bride/Groom... 

    1) Remind them that the cost (including embarrassment) is far less to call off a wedding than it is to marry then divorce, especially if there are children involved.  You're going to be there for both of them regardless of which decision they make, even if that means you're driving the get-away car...

    2) Encourage them to invest (Yes, INVEST) in premarital counseling.  Either through a good Marriage & Family counselor/Psych, the Catholic Church (don't need to be Catholic in order to go through their marriage prep which is one of the most comprehensive programs out there), the church they attend, etc.  It is money well spent and in some states it will give them a discount on the cost of the marriage license.  I think you're seeing the elephant in the room for both of them and the counseling will provide neutral ground for both of them to bring up their worries/fears/plans/uncomfortable topics/taboo topics/etc. and teach them better communication skills in the couple relationship because even though they've brought the subjects up with you, they haven't brought them up to eachother.. 

    3) In the unlikely event that they can't cancel vendors, to borrow a line from Prince "Tonight we're gunna party like it's 1999"!  or suggest they donate the food to a local soup kitchen/homeless shelter/church/etc. Some vendors they'll be able to cancel the further out they are. The day-of, not so much. 

    4) In the event of the worst case situation the day-of, you deal with it as it's presented, not how you want it to be.  From a performer's POV, remember that regardless of what happens, be the person calm, cool, organized, and collected.  The job at that point is to "Deal with it".  Bride or Groom handles it as they see fit, you pick up the slack with the details.  If the parents are there, call them back privately first to the respective individual.  If all guests are there, the money is paid, party on.  There is no easy way to make the announcement that "it's off" - and that's one that the situation needs to be read in the moment for who makes the announcement.  If the bride/groom decide together "we can't go through with this" the day-of, the best thing would be for both of them to make the announcement together.  It doesn't always work that way.  It happens where one or the other is simply late and plan a "keep it simple" announcement. 

    5) Ultimately at the end of the day, only the two of them can decide to get married or not.  If there are real red-flags, not just "he likes to argue differently from the way I do (and we haven't learned to work together yet when arguments happen so one isn't just retreating and leaving issues to fester)" or "she leaves the <bleeping> cover to the toilet seat down!" But real world, "Red flags" (she's abusive, he's a swinger, etc.)  those issues need to be addressed sooner than later.

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    SP29OurWildKingdom
  • I want to restate the idea of suggesting counseling.  I suggest this to every couple I know that's even considering marriage.  I think it should routinely happen before people get engaged, it'd save a lot of stress.  

    Also, bring chocolate.  I bring emergency chocolate to weddings, since emotions tend to be high, in good ways or bad ways.  This wedding sounds like a good one for emergency chocolate.

    This one sounds like the OP is making the case for Godiva or Guittard!
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  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake
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