A Sip On The Lips, Forever Damaged Relationships

by admin on October 24, 2011

My friend Sue met and became engaged to a young man named Andrei whose family had come to the US from their native country when Andrei was quite young. The family disapproved of Sue, as they had hoped that Andrei would marry someone of his own ethnic background.

During the engagement period, Sue went out of her way to get to know Andrei’s family in the hope that they would accept her in spite of her background being different from theirs. Slowly but surely, she appeared to win them over and they ceased making objections to the engagement and even began to participate in the wedding planning. All seemed well.

Sue and Andrei wanted to have a champagne toast at their reception, but Andrei’s family was very opposed to any consumption of alcohol. After some polite discussion, they arrived at a compromise that the family said they liked and that everyone could live with: Sue and Andrei would toast each other with a small amount of champagne, while everyone else would be served sparkling apple cider for the toast and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages for the remainder of the reception. Problem solved! Or so we all thought.

The incident:

The wedding went smoothly, then everyone traipsed over to the reception location afterward and in due time, the bride and groom were announced. Then came the big moment: the toast. The bride and groom lifted their glasses of champagne, smiled lovingly at each other, and each drank a sip of champagne. At the moment they drank, the groom’s entire extended family – 15 or more people – got up en masse and walked out without a word. They did not return.

The silence was deafening. Both the bride and groom turned pale and looked like they were a split second away from bursting into tears. Ultimately, everyone tried to pretend like nothing was wrong and carry on with the reception, but obviously the mood was dampened, to say the least.

I lost track of Sue and Andrei over the years. Shortly after the wedding they moved to a different state, away from his family. All these years later, whenever a bride and groom toast each other at a reception I cringe inwardly. 0519-11

{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

jen a. October 24, 2011 at 5:31 am

What an awful thing to do. Ultimately, what point would it serve? You end up cutting off not just the “undesirable” wife, but the husband too. Moving to another state clinches it. If they have children one day I doubt the nasty family will have access to them.

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lkb October 24, 2011 at 6:18 am

How awful for the bride and groom and everyone who witnessed this.
I wonder if it could have been prevented if the bridal couple had also had sparkling apple cider or grape juice, but we’ll never know….
(No, I’m not saying it’s the head couple’s fault — I’m just pondering.)
I do hope the family can mend fences.

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Mary October 24, 2011 at 9:48 am

I did wonder why it was so important for the couple to have champagne for themselves if they were ok with everyone else drinking cider. It’s the toast that is important, not that there is alcohol in the glass.

However, what the groom ‘s family did was absolutely horrible, especially that they gave the couple the impression that the compromise satisfied them but planned to walk out in protest.

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Enna October 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

But if the bride and groom wanted to drink the champange that was their choice – it wasn’t like it was canabis or the bride and groom were insisting that the other guests drink the alcohol.

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Anonymous October 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm

You know what, I think if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else. I think they just really didn’t like her and wanted to show it.

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The Elf October 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I agree. According to the story, they agreed to this compromise. If it was really just about the alcohol, they should have made it clear that it was a deal-breaker. That’s petty enough!

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Mechtilde October 24, 2011 at 6:32 am

The family had clearly planned the walkout. What horrible, horrible people.

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TheVapors October 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm

This is what makes me so sad.

The bride and groom thought they had this all settled. They thought everyone would have a nice time.

And you just know that behind their backs, that family was talking to each other in this type of manner “Well, if they do go ahead and drink that alcohol we’ll just all leave together. That will show them.”

How sad. I can imagine why the B&G would want to cut ties with a family like that. Trying so hard to please them, or come up with a compromise and the family only focuses on such a nitpicky little thing. Not only focuses on it… but WALKS OUT about it.

What a bunch of drama llamas.

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The Elf October 24, 2011 at 8:01 am

Again with the walkout! Just don’t go if you’re that bothered by it!

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Shoegal October 24, 2011 at 9:00 am

This walkout was definitely hurtful and would probably ruin the rest of what was supposed to be a very festive occasion. I’m so sorry for the bride and groom.

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Hemi Halliwell October 24, 2011 at 9:01 am

What an awful thing to do to your own child and their new spouse!
I agree with @Mechtilde- the family had planned the walkout.
I also agree with @The Elf- if it bothers you, just don’t go. Although I would be hurt if my family skipped my reception, it seems better than walking out while the bride and groon are toasting each other!
What is this world coming to? Walking out on your child’s reception because they wanted to toast their new spouse with champagne

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Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Not going is hurtful. Walking out is hurtful AND publicly humiliating, in a way that is surely going to make all the rounds of gossip. Years later, people aren’t going to talk about the folks who didn’t show up. There are any number of reasons not to go (have to work, sick that day, couldn’t get a sitter, couldn’t afford the travel, etc.), but there are very few reasons to walk out of a wedding. A physical emergency is about the only one that is not considered heinous.

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Kovitlac October 24, 2011 at 9:18 am

Why on earth would they pretend to agree and be content with the whole plan if they were just going to walk out, anyway?? This whole thing just reeks of snotty people acting incredibly slimy. I feel terrible for the poor couple. But on the bright side, I do hope the bride at least doesn’t have to deal with not being ‘good enough’ for her husband. Perhaps they are better off.

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Harley Granny October 24, 2011 at 9:31 am

Power trip.
That’s all it was.
So sad when people feel that their feelings are more important than the bride and grooms.
And they couldn’t even discuss it like civilized adults! They had to plan a childish temper tantrum!

I hope your friends are happy dispite this horrible incident.

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Serenity S. October 24, 2011 at 9:50 am

This reminds me of the Grandmother’s Wedding Walkout post. How rude this family was. And the family even agreed that they were fine with the bride and groom having one glass of champagne for the toast. I don’t understand why they would pretend to be ok with it and then leave. I feel horrible for the bride and groom.

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Hemi Halliwell October 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I also do not understand why the family pretended to be ok with the champagne toast and then walk out!
I wonder if this was really a way to show their disapproval of the bride?

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Jay October 24, 2011 at 9:59 am

A ridiculous reaction…

But at the same time, I can’t imagine why the B&G were SO adamant about drinking champagne in front of their guests who were adamantly anti-alcohol. Even if it had gone WELL at the wedding, how was it possibly worth that much discussion and “compromise” ahead of time? Seems a little bridzilla-y to me.

(which doesn’t excuse the walkout in the least)

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Lucky October 24, 2011 at 11:54 am

I wondered that, too. It doesn’t excuse the groom’s family’s behavior, but there is nothing that special about champagne–they could have enjoyed a bottle in private on the wedding night instead of drinking it alone in front of everyone else which, in addition to being an affront to the groom’s family, was really tacky when all the guests got cider.

Don’t get me wrong–I love champagne, but not enough to cause a rift, and definitely not enough to make myself look like an entitled clod in front of my friends and family.

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Enna October 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I think it would be “bridzilla-y” if the bride and groom were forcing alcohol on the guests. I’m a vegetarian and if someone wanted to bring a meat dish to my hyperthetical wedding I would be fine with it so long I know what it was and where it was so I don’t eat any by mistake.

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Ally L October 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm

For some, a champagne toast is as much of a tradition as exchanging the rings. My friend had a champagne toast at her wedding, even though the head couple were not drinkers. They just had a sip along with everyone else, and put the glass aside.

And I fail to see the problem with drinking in front of the guests who were “anti-alcohol.” Merely following a tradition in front of somebody who has a different set of ideals is not offensive in itself. Bridezilla behavior would have been forcing everyone to conform to her ideas of what a toast should be. I think offering a variety of non-alocholic drinks for the guests was a good compromise. That way, the drinks wouldn’t even be on the same table as those opposed to it.

No, the ones in the wrong here were the groom’s family, for attempting to force their own ideas about alcohol onto the couple, and then planning a walk out to express their distaste, instead of behaving like adults.

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Anonymous October 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Both of our last two Presidents didn’t drink alcoholic toasts at events. (Clinton had an alcoholic father and Bush had beaten substance abuse, both admirable over-comings in my opinion). They both just refrained. I think they can both be role models in that respect of politeness, whatever your politics.

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Amber October 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Bridezilla-y? No way. Standing up for herself for one, really traditional aspect of a wedding, particularly when the bride was being forced to abstain from all other alcoholic beverages by her ILs when she was not a teatotaller and non-alcoholic drinks were provided for all who wanted them, is in no way bridezilla-y. It’s one thing to be gracious with requests from the parents, it’s another to be a total doormat.

And since they lied to her and told her all was well before making a spectacle of themselves, every and all fault lands on their heads, not hers or her new husband’s.

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Ehelldame October 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Just a note…it is rather tacky and rude to not offer all guests the same refreshments that the newlyweds or wedding party are partaking of. For example, you cannot reserve prime rib and lobster for the bride and groom or the wedding party while serving the rest of the guests Chicken Marsalla. I had to tell a bride and groom many years ago that they could not serve the groom a steak while everyone else chowed down on ham sandwiches. You do not serve the good stuff to the upper “echelon” of guests while feeding the plebians mediocre fare. So, technically speaking, the bride and groom did commit a minor faux pas of imbibing on a beverage the rest of the guests were not offered as well.

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Amber October 24, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Oooh, I misread the story. I thought that the cider was just made available to those who preferred it to champagne, not that only the couple drank it!

Still, though, I place most of the blame on the in laws for forcing the issue to the point that the bride didn’t know if she was coming or going.

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Kathryn October 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I gotta respectfully disagree with you in regard to this specific situation. The family may have considered it insulting to be offered alcohol and so no one was offered it. Also, champagne and sparkling apple cider look much the same. It’s not as if they were rubbing it in people’s faces. For non-family members excluded from the whole alcohol situation, they probably didn’t notice any different.

I agree with you for the most part, but there ought to be reasonable times when the rule doesn’t apply. I think this is one of those times. While it might be a bit of a faux pas, I don’t think this is tacky or rude

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Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I blame the in-laws for forcing their beliefs on all the guests. The guests could have been offered their choice of champagne or sparkling cider. It looks like only the groom’s family would have chosen the cider. They wanted to force EVERYONE to have cider. And it wasn’t even their wedding.

So, yes, the B&G did make a faux pas by allowing all the guests to be served cider, while they went ahead with their champagne. But it wasn’t because they wanted to be cheap or mean to the guests. It was because they wanted to compromise with the in-laws.

B&G should have stood up for themselves and said, “We’re having champagne, and everyone else can have their choice of beverage.” Fair all around, everyone is equal, and the in-laws probably would have walked out, anyway.

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Lucky October 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Yeah, but from what was written here, it sounds like the bride and groom got champagne, but champagne wasn’t even offered to the guests.

I would never insist that anyone drink alcohol who didn’t want it–my brother’s wedding was completely dry–but for the bride and groom to drink it but not offer it even to guests who might enjoy it is kind of bridezilla-y. The bride had relatives there, too–surely the entire guest list was not anti-alcohol?

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jess October 25, 2011 at 6:34 am

But remember the HUGE problem that was going to cause with his family? that is WHY they had to serve cider to the guests, or the IL’s would have thrown a tantrum (it turns out they did anyway but the bride and groom did what they thought was ok by the IL’s) Can you Imagine what the Grooms family would have done if GUESTS were offered alcohol? probably burned the place down!!

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Gracie C. October 26, 2011 at 11:43 am

It’s not bridezilla-y. It might be a faux-pas, but it’s not bridezilla. She wasn’t drinking up a storm all night while telling her guests, sorry, no booze for you. It was one glass, as the toast. Might not have been the best decision (and clearly not in light of what happened), and a bit misguided, but to say it’s bridezilla just seems completely OTT to me.

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Just Laura October 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Sounds as if there was a compromise. It was the bride and groom’s wedding. They wanted champagne. The groom’s family did not. So they compromised and served the groom’s family something they’d feel comfortable drinking. How is this bridezilla-y?

When I’m out to dinner with a friend who doesn’t drink, I don’t make fun of her sweet tea, and she doesn’t put down my choice to have a glass of wine. No one is forcing their choices on anyone else.

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Jay October 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Because it goes a bit beyond that. I’ll take a leap and say that the groom is Muslim, from a Muslim family. Drinking alcohol is not just a matter of opinion to these people — it’s a violation of an important religious tenet. By drinking, in public, in front of them, the groom is basically spitting on the religion of his entire immediate family. Knowingly.

So while I’m strongly anti-walkout, I also think there was a serious problem here from the couple. The family didn’t walk out because they saw some random guest drinking — they walked out because the newlyweds were drinking.

And I must say I’ve never heard of a champagne toast (what if it’s sparkling wine from a different region of France? Still count? How about Italy?) that had the same importance as exchanging rings. Nobody’s drinking a toast during the ceremony, only during the party after.

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Tanz October 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Exactly. I think people don’t realise that there is a good chance that, to the grooms family, seeing people drinking alcohol in front of them (especially their son and his wife) would be akin to seeing them half naked.

That said I think it is very bad behaviour to agree to a compromise and then walkout later. I also think that it is poor behaviour to serve the HC a different beverage than the rest of the attendees.

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Enna October 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

Some Christians don’t drink alochol – it depends on individual interptation of a religion. Sometimes it can be an enitre organisation like the Mormoms or indivial Christains of different groups.

I knew at least one Muslim who drank. If the groom is Muslim maybe he may feel in his perosnal belief that alcohol in small amounts is acceptable – he might interpt it away that so long as he doesn’t drink too much it’s okay.

And if it really does offend his family that much well that’s their problem, if they think drinking is that bad religiously it is his look out e.g. between him and Allah. What would they do if they heard pop music or saw a woman in a bikni on the beach? Bet they wouldnt bat an eyelid. I agree with Annoumous, if it wasn’t this it would have been something else.

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Lucky October 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Sigh.

Nobody was threatening to force alcohol on nondrinkers, but I still think it’s tacky to drink champagne in front of your guests without even offering said guests the option of having champagne, too. Which appears to be what the bride and groom did. It was only the groom’s family who objected–if I had been attending as a guest of the bride’s, I would have appreciated at least being offered champagne instead of being served cider by default.

I don’t even drink that much. I certainly wouldn’t snark at someone who wanted a dry wedding. But I think the bride and groom should have made champagne available to guests who wanted it, or enjoyed the champagne in private later.

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jen a. October 25, 2011 at 5:27 am

Okay, we’re getting pretty nitpicky here. I mean, maybe (the letter isn’t clear) the bride and groom didn’t offer alcohol to the other guests, but the I’m sure the pressure on the bride to please her new in-laws was getting pretty overwhelming at this point. It would have been a little difficult for the servers to determine who was drinking, and who at the wedding (possibly even half the guests) was a non-drinker. A lot of wasted champagne! I think the point of the letter was the in-laws, not to pick out other potentially tacky bridal behaviour, of which we don’t even have clear details. I find this story so sad – can we give the bride a bit of a pass, here?

At the end of the day they might as well of had an open bar and a keg for all the difference it made….

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Just Laura October 25, 2011 at 9:47 am

*sigh* indeed.
It sounds as if offering the champagne would have offended the guests (and you’re right, we don’t know how the wife’s family feels about it). Obviously, she didn’t want to offended them any more than they already are.
I’m with jen a. below, in that this is a bit nitpicky. I can’t fault the bride for this one.

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anonymous October 29, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Assuming you allow one segment of your guests (it’s clear that ONLY Andrei’s family was anti-alcohol) to make decisions regarding your entire wedding.

I personally would not have caved and had a dry wedding just for guests who did this. And if it was close family, then yes, it’s worth eloping over (not the alcohol itself – but what it represents: control. Specifically their attempts to control the wedding).

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Ange November 2, 2011 at 1:02 am

I don’t think asking to have one tiny aspect of your wedding the way you like it when you’ve made such massive compromises in another is Bridezilla-ish in the least, particularly when it was noted how hard the bride had tried to please the groom’s family.

Bridezillas, traditionally, care about pleasing noone but themselves.

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sv October 24, 2011 at 10:06 am

This was clearly a premeditated move by the groom’s family executed with the express purpose of displaying their disapproval to everyone in the room. Shame on them.

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Bella Barossa October 28, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I agree completely. I don’t think it would have made the slightest bit of difference had the bride and groom not toasted with champagne. This was a predmeditated walk-out, and those rude, rude, horrible people were just waiting for an excuse to execute their horrible plan, no matter how small.

My guess? They realised as it got closer to the wedding date that Andrei was not going to give Sue up, and that they would have to accept the inevitable. So they decided to make them as miserable as possible; not by refusing to attend the wedding, which no doubt would have been hurtful, but by doing something far worse – humiliating them in front of all their guests. Absolutely disgusting behaviour. I don’t blame the bride and groom for moving away – how could you ever be happy with a family like that living close by? – and I fervently hope they are happy despite this devastating display of rejection.

I personally cannot stand cultures or religions which place so-called ‘family honour’ ahead of family love.

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WildIrishRose October 24, 2011 at 11:16 am

I agree that the walkout was unbelievably rude, but I’m also with those who think perhaps the B&G should have toasted with what everyone else was drinking. Surely there was time enough for champagne on the honeymoon.

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Cat October 24, 2011 at 11:27 am

When they said they were opposed to alcohol, I would have saved the bubbly for the wedding night and stayed with sparkling cider for everyone, regardless of what they said they were willing to compromise on.
When dealing with people who are going to make things difficult for you because they have decided you are “wrong” for their son, the best way to hurt you is the knife in the back and that is exactly what they did. They played the bride, making her think she was being accepted, and then took the first chance they had to humiliate her and their son.
Realize that, even with serving nothing but water, they may have planned on walking out just to show her their displeasure over the marriage. I, too, have family members who won’t let me in, regardless of what I do.

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anonymous October 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I would have done the opposite – I’d have said “well there will be alcohol at the wedding for all guests” (I wouldn’t have just had it for the two of us) “and if you don’t like it, don’t partake. If you can’t accept that, then it will be regrettable but we understand if you feel you cannot attend.”

Even if it’s family.

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Ashley October 24, 2011 at 11:30 am

If it were my wedding, and I had any idea this would have happened, I would have saved the champagne for the hotel room on my wedding night.

Alcohol does funny things to people, not just when consumed either.

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Angela October 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Hard to believe that a religion placed alcohol consumption in a worse category than public humiliation of your child and his new spouse and ruining what should have been a joyful occasion.

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Library Diva October 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm

@Jay, I think judging her for being “Bridezilla-y” is a bit harsh. There’s nothing wrong with having an aspect of the ceremony or reception that you feel strongly about. I’m betting the bride in this story had to negotiate many other demands/requests, so why not hold firm on something that matters to you? This was also presented as something that the groom wanted, too. Maybe the drink had some meaning to them, maybe the champagne on the wedding day was the longstanding fantasy of one or the other.

Ultimately, it was not anyone’s decision to make but Sue and Andrei’s, and to react like that is rather ridiculous. My late, beloved great-grandfather was also opposed to alcohol consumption. However, he did not protest or walk out of ANY event where it was served, let alone something like a wedding. (In deference to him, my grandparents always had a separate “drinking area” at Christmas and Easter gatherings, in their basement rec room.) It’s sad that Andrei’s family had to react this way at not getting their way.

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ferretrick October 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm

It’s now bridezilla-y to decide that you are of legal age and at YOUR own wedding you will have ONE glass of champagne? Okaaaayyyyyy……

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Gee October 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

That is really sad. The bride and groom ran the plan by the groom’s family–objections should have been raised then. To pretend that you’re okay with it and then do something like that is horrible, and underhanded.

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Anonymous October 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I know they could have just not had champagne, but – it was the son’s choice. You can’t control people like this. Especially since they made it seem like everything was fine and then walked out.

I dunno what I would have done in that situation. I don’t like to be self-centered but I can’t stand blackmailing like that.

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KITTY LIZARD October 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I have a feeling that what was in the glass wasn’t what was behind this. They could have
had tomato juice and a different version of this would have happened. His family made an agreement and set them up for a nasty fall. I’m not surprised they moved away. If I were
them I would have moved to Outer Mongolia. I wonder how much contact they had with
his family after the wedding.

Kitty

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Bob October 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I disagree with Jay regarding it being “bridezilla-y” to ask to toast with champagne. It sounds like the bride and groom come from two different traditions — one in which the symbolism of champagne is important (i.e. that its value lends gravity to the ceremony), and one in which champagne is forbidden. In that situation, a bridezilla would demand her own way — she would not compromise.

In this case, however, the bride compromised 98% of the way — foregoing alcohol for not only his family but also hers — and could even have been willing to go the last 2% if pressed. I can’t call a 98% compromise “bridezilla-y” — particularly when she wasn’t even given a chance to compromise the remaining 2%. If she had at least been told that the family would walk out, and that she had to choose between turning away his whole family or having the champage, I…well, I still wouldn’t call it bridezilla-y to stick to her guns. Compromise works both ways — and when you’re debating whether to give the last 2% up at your own wedding, you maybe need to worry about whether you’re a doormat…but probably don’t need to worry about being a bridezilla.

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Gracie C. October 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Well said, Bob. I agreed with others saying that they wouldn’t care so much about the toast being champagne (didn’t have one at my own wedding), but to even imply “bridezilla” when she “thought” she found a compromise (one which meant none of her family and friends could drink at all) with have a sip each, well, that’s just crazy talk. :-)

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Enna October 26, 2011 at 11:16 am

It wasn’t being forced on the non-drinking guests. If the bride was wrong for taking one sip of champange what else would be wrong by her in-laws’ books? The way she keeps the house? Brings up any furture children? I think this has a lot more to do with the groom marrying against his family’s wishes or demarnds and not excepting a mixed religious / cultural / racial marraige. The OP mentions that the groom’s family didn’t like him marrying outside his ethnicity. Now if this is being a bridezilla-y then does that mean brides can have no say over their weddings?

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Amber October 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm

This story aside, it’s interesting that alcohol can really cause rifts during wedding planning. My sister had trouble with her future extended in laws because alcohol was to be served at the reception — and my parents, who funded the event, were firm on the matter of alcoholic beverages being available for those who wanted them. Alcoholic beverages are traditional when celebrating anything in my large family — weddings, funerals, Christmas, anything. My sister was a bit frazzled by the episode, as she didn’t want to offend anyone. Eventually the in-laws caved, so all’s well and so on.

Has anyone else ever seen a similar problem go down at events where alcohol is traditionally served?

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Jayne October 24, 2011 at 3:50 pm

The groom’s family immigrated to a country where drinking alcoholic beverages is an accepted custom. If the mere presence of a tiny amount of champaign offends them to that degree, they really should have remained in their country of origin. Respecting other peoples customs is a two-way street – something that a lot of people forget. And if Andrei’s family was so insistent that he marry from his own kind, well again, they should never have moved to a melting pot nation.

I have plenty of friends and family who don’t drink for various reasons – religous, health, whatever – but they would never flounce out of a reception due to the mere presence of alcohol. And it wasn’t like they had an open bar going on. Those people seem just cruel and horrible.

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AS October 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I don’t agree that the Bride was bridezilla-y in any way. It is the couple’s wedding. They did not force the family to do something they don’t want to do, but just wanted to have champagne for themselves for the toasts. The couple surely thought that they had reached a compromise, and any mature and well-meaning person would think so too. The couple’s close families don’t have to accept everything they do for their wedding. But as long as something is not imposed on the guests, any well-intentioned person will never say a word and be happy for the couple. Watching the bride and groom toasting to a glass of champagne is not an imposition. The conspiracionist-me wants to think that the family needed an excuse to show their protest, and had discussed before reaching the champagne-compromise that they’ll use that as an excuse to stage a walk-out.

Like lot of others said before, if they don’t want to support the wedding, just stay at home. Don’t do something to hurt the couple on what is supposed to be one of the happiest days in their life.

…well, at least grandma didn’t go to the microphone to make a speech!

BTW, I applaud the groom to support his wife and seemingly put his foot down.

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Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I’m now picturing the conspirators having a planning session.

“OK, so when they have the champagne toast, we all walk out.”

“What if they don’t do champagne?”

“When they start dancing, we all walk out.”

“What if they cave on the dancing?”

“When they cut the cake, we all walk out.”

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Bella Barossa October 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm

This family wanted to make sure the bride and groom would regret their decision to marry against their wishes, so they made a pact to ruin the wedding, because they knew that a ruined wedding cannot be undone. Absolutely shameful and disgusting in every way.

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lkb October 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Don’t know enough about these matters but perhaps if the couple had gotten some sparkling beverages that looked like the champagne (or vice versa), they could have pulled it off? It seems to me that someone was looking really, really hard to see what was in the glasses.

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Caros October 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I’d say the champagne is a complete red herring with regard to the walk out.

Mean, mean, mean, cruel & mean.

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stephanie October 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm

While the groom’s family was horrendous for walking out like that, I personally would have been quite offended if I was a guest at that wedding and served sparkling cider while the HC toasted with champagne. That is a horrible compromise. If you’re going to have more than one option for something, the choice needs to be available for everyone. If, instead of the issue being alcohol, the groom’s family was vegetarian but the couple loved steak, they would not be able to compromise by serving ALL of their guests vegetarian lasagne or whatever while they dined on steak. It’s RUDE.

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Anna October 25, 2011 at 4:20 am

Possibly, but the way I read it that the bride and groom would have wanted to give everybody the option of champagne, but didn’t because the grooms family disagreed so very much.
While maybe technically true I can’t call this completely rude. I think they over compromised so much to keep the grooms family happy that they might have lost track of the comfort of the other guests a bit.
But if I were a guest of the bride and knew of the backstory I would have gone to this wedding and not begrudged the couple a thing (and I like champagne!) I wouldn’t have liked the grooms family very much, because I can’t stand people who demand respect for their cultural/religious choices but never give any to others.
I would have happily “sacrificed” my champagne to toast with apple cider expecting that by doing so me (and the other guests) would have helped to keep the peace in this difficult family and help make it the best day for the bride and groom.
Of course the grooms family made a different choice, so I can only hope the couple and their remaining guests managed to turn it around and have a blast of a party anyway. (apple cider and all.)

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stephanie October 27, 2011 at 1:32 am

Yes, if they were discreet about drinking champagne, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal and they could probably get away with it. But I don’t understand why they HAD to drink champagne and couldn’t toast with sparkling cider like everybody else, and saved the champagne for later.

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Gracie C. October 26, 2011 at 11:49 am

Really? If at an otherwise dry wedding, the bride and groom took two sips of champagne you’d be quite offended? I just don’t get that. They weren’t drinking all night, it was a couple of sips. I wouldn’t be offended by that at all. And I don’t think the steak comparison holds water. There are parts of the wedding that only the couple participates in. They dance, they cut the cake, etc. Sure the guests typically take part of the toast, but I don’t really see any difference in the couple having a couple sips of champagne vs. them lighting candles or doing the sand thing. It’s a ceremonial moment more than anything else. Of course, I don’t drink, so I’m alwasys toasting with water anyway.

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stephanie October 27, 2011 at 1:48 am

Yeah, if I was made aware, by announcement or rumor or what have you, that the happy couple had champagne while the guests had cider, I would be offended. If it’s only two sips and not that big of a deal for me to get offended about, why couldn’t the B&G toast with cider?
I don’t know what the “sand thing” is, but your comparison to the candle thing or cake cutting or vows don’t really resonate with me. Yes, there are parts of a wedding, ceremony and reception, that are focused on the B&G with the guests there to watch. I just don’t believe that the toast is one of these times. Why? Because the bride and groom aren’t only toasting each other while everyone else watches. Other people make toasts to the B&G, the best man, maid of honor, family members, an other guests can all make toasts depending on the wedding. Generally someone says “To the Happy Couple!” and everyone repeats it before taking a sip. That’s the guests sharing their best wishes with the couple, in a participatory experience. I recently read that if you are being toasted, according to etiquette rules you are not supposed to drink when everyone else does anyway! (sorry I don’t have a source for this right now, but I will try to look it up!)
Basically I think it was silly for the B&G to have made such a big deal about the champagne. They could have toasted with sparkling cider during the reception and then privately with champagne later.
As a side note, at one of my cousin’s weddings, right smack in the middle of the ceremony (after the vows, but before the candle) the pastor took the couple up the hill (it was an outdoor amphitheater) for a “private moment.” All the guests sat and twiddled their thumbs for 10 minutes waiting for them to come back. Don’t know what the deal was there, but I thought that was weird and a little bit rude too, and that is what I thought of when I read your comment.

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Laura October 24, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I suspect that the champagne is irrelevant. A family who would go to the trouble of planning something that rude would have come up with another way to “make a statement” at the wedding. For all we know, there could have been other fights about cutting cake, tossing garters, or any number of details.

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Sarah Jane October 24, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Wow…they thought they’d okayed it with the groom’s family ahead of time, and then this happened.

Sure, I think it was ill-advised for them to insist on champagne for themselves when it was offered to no one else, plus knowing that it was so offensive to the groom’s family…but I’m just feeling too sorry for them to care about that right now.

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Clair Seulement October 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

I agree that limiting the “small amount of champagne” to the bride and groom for the toast was a little strange and slightly rude, insofar as anyone was aware of it–it sounds like the couple had just as weird an attitude toward alcohol as the parents. The couple can’t have been intent on getting a buzz on from two gulps of sparkling wine at a toast, so I’m not sure why they bothered to insist on it for themselves over the cider. What’d they do with the rest of the bottle, dump it out? (Maybe the catering team got to finish it.) In any case, I completely agree that what was served is absolutely the couple’s business, and what’s ultimately in play here is an utter lack of respect for other traditions–can you imagine if the bride was Catholic and wine was distributed at the ceremony?

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Gracie C. October 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm

They very well may have had a small bottle that was only enough for the two of them.

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ferretrick October 25, 2011 at 6:49 am

The more I think about it, I’m with everyone who thinks the champagne was just a convenient excuse. The real issue is that the family never accepted their son marrying someone of another ethnicity. If it hadn’t been the champagne, they’d have found some other way to destroy the wedding day. Horrible people.

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Heckels October 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I think the groom’s family, if not for the champagne, would have found another reason to walk out. It wasn’t about the toast, it was about the groom marrying outside their religion/culture.

I was in a similar situation with my wedding. My family and high school friends are mostly “dry” for religious reasons (Mormons). My husband’s family and nearly all of our college friends expects alcohol at events like weddings and family parties. We made a spreadsheet of all of our guests and whether or not they would drink alcohol. Then we calculated how many bottles of champagne vs. how many bottles of sparkling apple cider we would need for everyone during the toast. The bartender filled glasses and clearly indicated which was which so people could choose what they wanted.

For the rest of the beverages, we made sure there was an exciting option for non-drinkers too – in addition to wine and beer, we had the caterer provide strawberry lemonade so non-drinkers could have something “celebratory” besides water and soda to drink.

Unlike the poor bride and groom in this story, I was able to leave my religious family members OUT of the wedding planning process. :)

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Danielle October 25, 2011 at 7:49 pm

My initial thoughts about this were that if bride and groom knew that his family was so opposed to alcohol, why would they make an issue of it? Generally speaking, its an issue most people would be willing to put aside in the interest of family harmony.

In this case though, I’ve changed my mind. His family are obviously toxic people. It would have been one thing if they had put their foot down and insisted that they wouldn’t show up if there was alcohol, but instead, they made a point of forever ruining bride and groom’s (and their family and friends’) memories of the wedding. It’s beyond nasty to behave this way.

Frankly, I think it is probably better that the bride and groom didn’t bow to their demands this time. If they had, there would only have been more and more demands down the road, and as soon at they said no, they would still have been abandoned by family. It’s better for them that it happened right away, rather than years down the road when they had children who would become attached to these people.

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Caros October 26, 2011 at 7:48 am

I don’t think it’s rude of B&G to have champagne when no-one else does. It’s their wedding. I’ve been to weddings where the B&G have offered champagne to all their guests but had beer (served in champagne glasses) for themselves. Were they wrong to serve themselves differently too?

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Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I think that would compare to serving steak to all the guests and having ham sandwiches, themselves. Not rude.

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Paige October 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm

When are people ever going to learn that what they believe may not be what others believe?! It’s just a part of life that we aren’t all the same. What a terrible family to have; after this, I wouldn’t want them in my life.

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Rosyln October 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

I agree with the side that states it really wasn’t about the toast or the champagne.

I really think it was a staged act against the marriage and the alcohol issue was the red herring.

For all they knew the bride/groom decided at the last minute to have non-alcohol (how can you really know from more than a few feet away in small glasses?) and that many people all at once is clearly a pre-planned performance.

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Jehenna October 28, 2011 at 12:22 am

@ Jayne

I was born in a country (5th generation so not child of immigrants) where drinking alcoholic beverages is an accepted custom. So was my husband. We had a dry wedding because the majority of the people attending were of a religion which doesn’t allow the consumption of alcohol, and neither my husband (who isn’t of that religion) or myself drink.

It’s not just about respecting a custom of the country you migrate to, because like hell was I going to have alcohol at my wedding when I’m a member of a religion that doesn’t drink and my husband stopped drinking when he saw first hand what damage alcoholism can do. That seemed incredibly hypocritical to me, regardless of whether or not other Australians think its fine.

It was our wedding. We decided to do what we thought was right for us and for our guests. Every person there accepted that, including those that normally drink, and the only person who did order themselves a beer at the bar was 80 years old and a war veteran, and in his case I wasn’t averse to making an exception.

Please don’t make this about migrants and culture. I’d say that the problem was with them, not the fact that they were immigrants. Some people are just determined to be rude.

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Gracie C. October 28, 2011 at 10:38 am

But Jehenna – that was a choice you made for your wedding by mutual decision based on what was right for you and your husband. That wasn’t a decision forced on you by a family who has differening view points from you. Nobody is saying that if your customs don’t match the customs of the country you are living in you have to go by the customs of the new country against your will when all parties are content to not. But, when the customs are split between the brides side and the grooms side then compromise doesn’t mean one side gets their way and the other side gives up everything.

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anonymous October 29, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I’m with Gracie. You made a decision that was right for *you*. This couple caved to family pressure over something the family, if they were good people, wouldn’t have been so insistent about (even if they personally disagreed).

It’s not really about alcohol – I think that’s the divisive issue here – it could be the same with dancing, or cake (there’s got to be some adamant grandmother out there who is virulently opposed to cake), or a non-white dress, or a non-church wedding, or odd processional music, or a wedding that has none of the above because it’s a civil ceremony and then a picnic!

In any of these cases the family has no right to insist that the couple cave to their wishes or they’ll refuse to attend.

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Jehenna November 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I agree. And it’s why I am making the point about it having nothing to do with immigration and culture, but rather to do with the couple’s wishes. Regardless of which way the “culture” of the hosting country goes, the couple has the right to do things the way they decide is best.

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Cari October 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

this may sound horrible but I would seriously reconsider marrying someone who’s family put me thru the ringer like that. And the walk out was the final nail in the coffin (although it was too late to reconsider at that point!). I just hope for Sue’s sake that her husband will stand up to his family for her. I would be so angry that I made all these compromises about my wedding in the spirit of getting along and then they just walk out, revealing their true hand. A complete and total cut off from them is only way I could continue the marriage at that point. Life is too short to put up with that!

And it sounds like the couple wanted to offer alcohol to everyone and the groom’s family stopped that. So they offended the guests as well. These people are real winners!!!!! /sarcasm

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anonymous October 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm

You know, I would too. It’s not horrible.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t marry the guy – it would depend on how he deals with his difficult family. If he caved to them, pandered, placated or pretended it’s not an issue rather than handling them in a self-preserving, respectful but firm boundary-enforcing way, I would not marry the guy.

If he handled them in a “my relationship with my future wife is my top priority” way that enforces boundaries and does not encourage or accept bad behavior, then I would…and keep the lines of communication open regarding how to deal with them.

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anonymous October 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Honestly speaking, there is a lot to say about this.

1.) It’s true that it wasn’t really about the champagne – they were going to act badly and find an “excuse” for it no matter what.

2.) It’s also not about alcohol, it’s about control. I actually disagree strongly with how the couple handled this, but in the opposite direction: it is clear that only Andrei’s family was anti-alcohol. Why should their belief control the tone of the event? Assuming we were in agreement, if it were me, my husband and I would have said “We’re sorry, but we do want alcohol at our wedding. We dont’ think there’s anything wrong with this and we don’t feel we should have to explain why we want it, because it’s not wrong. We will be serving alcohol and it will be available to all guests. If you don’t want to partake, that’s fine. If you can’t accept that, then it will be regrettable and we’ll miss you, but we understand if you decide not to attend.” (Of course, the guy would have to agree with me – I would never steamroll if the guy I was marrying disagreed. We’d have to talk it out).

I realize some interpretations of this could make me sound like a lush who prioritizes alcohol over family, but that’s only true if you read the above as being only about alcohol, which it isn’t. Imagine the same issue with a purple dress, or a non-church wedding, or dancing or other thing you can think of that might offend stodgy relatives. It’s not their wedding, and while a couple should do what they can to make guests feel comfortable, that doesn’t extend to every aspect of the wedding, over which the couple does have the final say. It covers things like appropriate food (ie making sure guests all have something they can eat if you are serving food, and serving appropriate food for the time of day), having water available, good timing, a venue that can comfortably accommodate guests, especially those with limitations etc.. That sort of stuff. It does NOT cover other things. I can understand doing things a certain way if almost all of the guests would feel more comfortable that way, but not to only please a small number of them – **it’s not about them**.

Remove the alcohol from the equation and it becomes all about caving to family who are trying to take control. I would have none of it – even if it meant eloping or having them not attend (again, this would require serious discussion with the groom, it’s not the bride’s decision alone).

4.) So I disagree with the posters who say “there is time for champagne on the honeymoon”, but not because the couple should have forgone the champagne but because they shouldn’t have caved to the insistence that none was available to guests in the first place. Having a choice of champagne or sparkling cider would be an acceptable compromise. “No alcohol at all” would not. To me, anyway.

3.) But you know what? Alcohol at big events is important to me – it’s very much a part of my family’s culture and while we do drink, none of us are alcoholics. We enjoy but don’t over-use. Alcohol is NOT evil, it’s not bad, it can be dangerous but it doesn’t *have* to be. It is, to me, because it’s very much a part of how my big family celebrates, something worth fighting for. I would not have been happy with a dry reception. Now, if 80% of my guests were recovering alcoholics I would have a dry reception anyway, but at that point we’re talking about the vast majority of guests, not just 1/3 of them (assuming the couple’s friends and the bride’s family are fine with alcohol). And we didn’t even have champagne! People toasted with whatever drink was in their hand.

4.) Like the poster above, I would reconsider marrying the guy – but not *because* of his family. I’d take a close look at how he handles them: because that’s the key. If he pandered, caved or swept family issues under the rug I wouldn’t marry him. If he enforced boundaries, prioritized our relationship and dealt with them firmly and respectfully, I would. We’d have to be on the same wavelength. But it would be cause for concern and possibly reconsideration.

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Lilya November 9, 2011 at 8:45 am

I think some people are so busy discussing the couple’s faux pas that they lost sight of the major issue – i.e. the family’s obviously staged walk-out.
Nothing at all could ever justify that.

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