No one really knows why people find playing pranks on a bride and groom so enticing. Maybe it's the solemnity of the occasion that folks just can't resist subverting. Or maybe, it's just fun.
For whatever reason, the wedding prank is anything but an endangered species.
Many grooms have knelt before the church altar only to hear snickering from the guests, who for some reason have found mirth in what should be a sacred moment. The reason was simple: one of more of the groom's pals has used masking tape to spell "HELP" on the sole of one shoe and "ME" on the other.
Stories abound about couples returning from their honeymoon to find their car dismantled, then reassembled in their living room. Or perhaps all the toilets in the house have been taken away.
Easier is the Jello prank. Fill the bathtub or toilet with Jello, run a lot of hot water, add a lot of ice, then stir. It will take the bride and groom a very long time to get rid of the stuff.
A good rule of thumb for a prospective bride or groom is not to trust anybody before, during or after the nuptials. An entire web site, "Pranks 4 The Memories" (www.weddingpranks.com), has become a conduit for many tales of mischief.
A squeaky toy between the mattress and box spring is always fun, but one practical joker took that a step further.
"A friend of mine was getting married and he knew we would be out to get him," he wrote to the web site. "We always play pranks on each other. All through the wedding, nothing happened. Then when he went to leave, he expected something in the car... Again, nothing. He got to the hotel, expected something, and again, nothing.
"They woke up in the morning and were talking about the wedding and decided to order breakfast in bed. He got on the phone and put in his order, asking for breakfast for two. Then they hear a knock. They look at each other in fright. Then they hear the knock again... coming from underneath the bed. And a voice says, 'Make it breakfast for THREE!' "His buddy had been under the bed all night."
One best man contributor told with glee of renting an extra tuxedo coat jacket for the groom three or four times smaller than the one ordered. He hid the original jacket, then watched his buddy panic when the smaller jacket was tried on.
Another time-honored prank is for the best man to announce at the wedding reception that now the groom is married, any woman he has slept with and who has a key to his apartment should give it back. At one party, every woman in the place walked over and dropped off a key. That was funny enough, but then, the bride's grandmother slowly ambled over, and with an impish grin, turned in her key.
At one wedding a guy dressed in a gorilla suit came running down the aisle to scoop up the bride right aft3er the minister pronounced the bride and groom man and wife.
During another wedding ceremony, when the clergyman asked the traditional, "If anyone knows just cause why these two people should not marry, speak up now or forever hold your peace," a 4-year-old boy was paid to run up the aisle yelling, "Daddy, Daddy!"
Of course, messing around with the actual ceremony can be dangerous. You could lose a friend... or a bride. Two pals, unhappy with their friend's choice of a wife, kidnapped him on the day of his wedding and kept him in a cabin in the woods for four days. The prospective bride was not amused. The groom lost his lady, but still has his friends.
With all the pranks, the traditional embarrassing writing and tin cans on the getaway car, the dead fish on the engine block-sometimes a fellow doesn't need any help in ruining a wedding.
Dating and relationship consultant Wendee Mason of San Diego says, "If you're at a wedding, and you see the groom playfully shoving a piece of wedding cake into the bride's face, boom! That's the first sign that they will wind up in divorce court.
"She may be smiling," Mason says, "but what she's really thinking is, 'Don't you mess up my beautiful hairdo and my $4,000 wedding dress!'"
If you must pull a prank
Believe it or not, even wedding pranksters draw the line somewhere. Here are some "Do's and Don'ts" from Karen L. Greenberg, a contributor to the "Pranks 4 The Memories" web site.
- Don't make a mess that will take longer than 10 minutes to clean up. Better yet, don't make a mess or cause damage unless you'll be there to help clean up and are willing to pay for professional cleaning or repairs.
- Make sure you can call off the joke if it turns out not to be funny.
- Don't cause the bride or groom public humiliation.
- Be prepared to apologize profusely to the bride, the groom, or their families if they find your practical joke offensive. And be prepared to accept the loss of a friend if you manage to offend their spouse or family.
- Avoid any high jinks immediately before and during the actual ceremony.
- If you're not married, remember: What goes around, comes around.