06/10/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How To Survive A Wedding From Hell

Mary McPhail, a 47-year-old online retailer from Bexley, Ohio, will never forget her wedding to husband and business partner Geord Douglas 23 years ago in Miami.

"We had our rehearsal dinner at the restaurant where my husband and I met, and as a surprise gift, they gave us this big, beautiful tray of stone crabs," says McPhail.

"The next day, I had a very upset stomach but just attributed it to nerves."

It wasn't nerves. It was the shellfish. As the hour-long ceremony wore on, McPhail grew dizzy and eventually had to clamp a hand over her mouth to keep from throwing up all over the altar. Recognizing her predicament, the priest hastily pronounced the couple husband and wife and shoved them down the aisle.

"We got to the back of the church and I just lost it all over my gown," says McPhail. "It was a really small wedding, and everybody knew. I was mortified, but it was the highlight of everyone's day."

Even the most meticulously planned wedding can devolve into a nuptial nightmare, plagued by freak thunderstorms, fainting bridesmaids or collapsing cakes. But while a botched ceremony is every couple's nightmare, it's the weddings that go south that most people remember -- and love to retell.