08/28/2014 10:21 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Worst Wedding Day Ever: I Should Have Made a Run for the Border

Maybe, when it came to my wedding day, I should have hoped for the best and planned for the worst. But I didn't! What I planned for was pure perfection. Why not? I had envisioned this particular, joyous day over and over in my head since I was a little girl. Still, I recall hearing my final warning--it was the moment I heard those church bells a ringing. That was my cue to make a run towards the border. Why didn't I listen? Had I listened, I would have escaped what was to be the most uncomfortable day of my life.


Definitely, I am a hopeless romantic, believing that one's wedding day was as good as it gets. You see, up till this point our big day was filled with a few too many negatives, for my liking. Honest to goodness, our wedding was more like a series of unfortunate events. First, I hadn't taken into account that South Florida hosts only two seasons: rainy and dry. So naively, during the planning stage I took the sunshine for granted. Thus of course, it rained on our wedding day. Still, I'm not entirely sure if rain signaled good or bad luck. Although, later I read that raindrops represent the many tears a bride with shed during her married life.

Another odd moment was as I arrived at the church my grandma Beatty, my mother's mother, whispered in my ear that I didn't have to go through with this marriage. Did she know something I didn't? Again, I brushed off yet another warning sign of things to come. Still I followed our son, the ring bearer, down the aisle on my father's arm. Focusing solely on my future husband, who looked more like a frozen statue than a man in love. Instantly, I began to feel nervous. Deep down inside of me, I knew it--he was paralyzed by fear.

And as he took my hand, his sweat dripped from his forehead onto my arm. It was hard not to notice that his heart was pounding--so much so, it looked like it might explode out of his chest. Maybe I should have listened to Grandma Beatty's warning. I then turned my attention to our priest and his joyful tone as he said, "Bless O, Lord, this ring to be a sign of the vows by which this man, with all that he is and all that he has, will honor his wife, in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy spirit."


But then all of a sudden thunder, accompanied a lightning bolt, hit the glass canopy in the center of the church's cathedral ceiling. Are you kidding me? Still, I didn't see this as my third warning sent directly from heaven. Talk about putting blinders on, right! Thankfully, our priest laughed as he lightened the moment by saying, "Thank God, lightning never strikes the same place twice," as he resumed the mass. Okay, okay, I'll admit it; I wanted to ignore these omens. Not to mention we did live in the lightning capital of the world.

After our wedding ceremony was complete, we headed towards the cocktail hour and photographs at my parents' home. There we stood in my father's flower garden in the front yard, taking photo after photo. And just as our young son put up with many a cheek pinch from adults admiring how cute he was, I started to feel dizzy. Straining to smile, I began to overheat. Nauseated, I ran inside toward my mother's room, for help. But to no avail. See, my mom was preoccupied, taking stitches out of my brother's buttocks due to a basketball injury earlier that month. I felt so, so itchy--all of my entire body.


So I ran directly into the guest room, tearing off my wedding dress, only to see hundreds of red ants swarming the lining of the dress. I had been bitten too many times to count and was having a full-blown allergic reaction to the bites. Can you believe it; I had unknowingly stood right on top of an ant nest while posing for photographs. Somehow, my father had forgotten to throw down pest control that week. So, I was rushed to the nearest emergency room, still wearing my bridal veil, to receive a shot of steroids to bring down the massive swelling. My nose had blown up to twice its normal size. I promise you it was not a pretty sight.

The ER doctor advised me to stay away from alcohol that night, so I couldn't even enjoy a single glass of champagne that day. Hours later, when I finally arrived at the reception hall, our guests greeted me with a standing ovation. To complete this nightmare, my new husband got completely wasted and woke up with a major hangover. What happened to my beautiful June wedding day? It certainly fell short of my expectations. Never in my dreams could I have imaged this wedding day fail. Despite my best efforts, our big day didn't go as planned. And neither did our marriage.

With this and other experiences like it, I decided to share them in my recent book RAW: One Woman's Journey Through Love, Loss, and Cancer. Truly, my memoir reads like a cautionary tale. But trust me, after twenty years of dysfunctional, abusive relationships I share my stories in order to help and humor others. My past has made me wiser, stronger, and more empathetic towards others. So, I ask you "can you top my horrible wedding day?" If so, please comment below. Trust me, there's nothing more therapeutic than writing about the good, the bad, and the ugly, even when it comes to your wedding day fails.

Fiona Finn, author of Raw: One Woman's Journey through Love, Loss, and Cancer. Like my humor? Then Follow me, or follow me not on Twitter @fionaburkefinn.