The Complaint Department

Pretty much every bride knows she should not, under any circumstances, play a singles dance or put Aunt Florence next to the groom's frat buddies. But no matter how much care couples take in picking a DJ or planning the seating arrangements, wedding guests still encounter plenty of things that get under their skin. Since few would feel comfortable saying anything other than "Your wedding was beautiful!" to the bride's face, we've encouraged them to kvetch to their hearts' content here so you can avoid these nuptial no-nos and throw a wedding that's fun for everyone. Please note: Some names have been changed to protect those guilty of gaffes.

Gripe 1: Choosing Sides

"At many ceremonies, all the bride's friends have to sit on one side of the room and all the groom's friends sit on the other side. That sucks, because sometimes you're friends with both of them -- how do you choose? That moment of indecision is just weird for me. Plus, one side is usually much less crowded and people sit there thinking, 'Gee, the groom doesn't have many friends.' All of this can easily be avoided by just letting guests sit where they want." -- Angie, 35

Gripe 2: Sound Check

"A close friend of mine hired this awful singer with a really flat soprano voice for the ceremony. I bowed my head and tried to think about something else so that I wouldn't burst out into hysterical laughter. However, when she got to the chorus, I glanced at my date -- big mistake -- and we both totally lost it. I was trying to control my laughter, but tears were pouring down my face. So I did the only respectable thing I could do at that point and pretended to be crying, loudly. The moral of the story is that brides should really check out the musicians they hire in advance." -- Tina, 32

Gripe 3: Far Side

"I hate when there's a long distance between the ceremony and reception. I went to one wedding where the ceremony and reception were over an hour's drive apart from each other and no transportation was arranged. We kept passing churches on the way to the reception and saying, 'Why didn't they get married there?'" -- Jennifer, 34

Gripe 4: Theatrical Weddings

"The worst was this wedding where the lights dimmed, and then this guy dressed up as something out of

Phantom of the Opera

came out and performed songs from the musical." -- Joe, 39

Gripe 5: Class Act

"I was at a wedding in Malibu and it was beautiful…until the DJ let it rip with 'Baby Got Back.' It must have been the bride's request, since she and her gaggle of friends began squealing and ran onto the dance floor. There she was, in her beautiful white Vera Wang wedding gown, with her hand in the air and her ass swinging back and forth. It was nasty. I'm not Miss Proper, but it just seemed out of place to be rump-shakin' at your own wedding." -- Colleen, 33

Gripe 6: Camera Shy

"I hate intrusive video cameras, when the guy shoves the mic into your hands and says, 'Do you have anything to say?' What if you don't have anything to say? What if you're camera shy? What if you're drunk? I think it's better if he just tips the mic in your direction so you can grab it if you want to or say 'no thanks' with a smile." -- Brett, 35

Gripe 7: Seating Siberia

"There's always that one table: The people kind of know each other but not really -- or they're all the extra people who couldn't be seated with people they know due to space constraints. It's always a random mix of cousins, college friends, neighbors, work friends, and distant relatives. The guests always know they're the misfit table, and it's always awkward to sit there trying to make conversation with these people you have no interest in. Lack of thought in the seating plan has one of the most painful, sometimes embarrassing, results for a guest who often wonders, 'Why am I stuck behind a pole at a table with a bunch of strangers?'" -- Megan, 27

Gripe 8: Love Mismatch

"I was at a wedding where the bride had told her single girlfriends that they'd be seated with single guys for a little matchup. But when they got to the reception, the 'singles table' was all women and one single guy. What a shame because the truth is, people go to weddings to meet someone or at least have a little flirt. I think she should have put close to equal numbers of guys and girls at the table!" -- Gina, 34

Gripe 9: The Wedding Singer

"I can't stand bands or singers who are way too high on themselves, like they think they are performing at Carnegie Hall. This is a wedding, people! You are wedding singers, not Earth, Wind & Fire!" -- Rebecca, 29

Gripe 10: Singled Out

"I remember one friend's wedding at which the DJ was given names of single female friends to bellow over the microphone to make sure they were participating. The horror!" -- Gina, 37

Gripe 11: Wallflower

"I loathe the 'everyone get up and dance with your spouse' portion. More often than not I am sans date -- so I'm either forced to sit alone like a loser and watch everyone dance, or I'm forced to dance with a loser who has been thrust on me by a relative with that look of pity in her eye." -- Cathy, 29

Gripe 12: Sappy Speaches

"I can't stand any speech that's longer than four minutes -- especially sentimental ones where a brother talks about not being sure he could ever fill his big bro's shoes." -- Walter, 24

Gripe 13: Sub-par Bar

"I hate bartenders who don't know how to make good drinks or, worse yet, bartenders who skimp on the alcohol and give you mixed drinks that are watered down. I'm not sure if they're being cheap or if they just don't want someone to get smashed and say what happened at the bachelor party. Either way, I want my cosmos the way I like them." -- Diny, 33

Gripe 14: Poor Timing

"I hate when you have to wait for hours before you get to eat. One friend's wedding took place at 3:30 and the cocktail hour started at 5:00, with an open bar and hors d'oeuvres. Unfortunately, it was just that -- a cocktail hour. At 6:00, the food was whisked away and the bar started charging. At 8:30, the bride and groom wandered in, and half an hour later dinner was served. We were starving, and by the time we finished dinner, after 10, nobody was in the mood to party." -- Megan, 27

Gripe 15: Slow Flow

"We went to a wedding where there was a make-your-own pasta station where you got to pick the pasta and the sauce and have it made for you personally. Only problem is, it was way too slow. They could only do two people at a time, which means only two people could eat at a time while the rest of us stood in this enormous line. I would have rather not had the choice and not had to eat in shifts." -- Tammy, 35

Gripe 16: Messy Food

"Messy food -- ribs, lobster, corn on the cob -- can be a nightmare. Someone, usually me, always ends up in the bathroom trying to wash off a big blob of barbecue sauce." -- Judy, 32

Gripe 17: Making the Cut

"I once received a wedding invitation with an extremely early RSVP date: It gave us only ten days to return it. When I asked the bride why, she said, 'Well, I have guest list A, B, and C. Once people from the A group drop out, we'll start inviting group B, and so on.' At least I was in group A, but I still thought that was pretty bad." -- Jennifer, 35

Gripe 18: Cold Call

"If the festivities are outside in a tent, you'd really better be sure it's fairly warm out. One time I was at a wedding that was so cold, everyone had to keep their coats on over their beautiful outfits and huddle around the space heaters." -- Gina, 36

Gripe 19: Time Crunch

"My brother was married on a Friday afternoon and had his rehearsal at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday. That meant that we were all required to take two full days off from work. Time off is limited as is and difficult enough to get without wasting it on an afternoon rehearsal. I feel that consideration for the guests could have been taken into account." -- Terry, 26

Gripe 20: No Thanks

"I can't stand it when brides bitch about who didn't buy them a gift, then fail to thank you for the one you bought them! I expect a handwritten thank-you note within a week of the wedding—not a brief 'thank you' shoved into a Christmas card months later!" -- Theresa, 28

Gripe 21: Dance Fever

"Too many special dances that people have to watch drive me crazy. Father and bride, mother and groom, and bridal party is fine -- but I attended one wedding where there were so many! Bride and grandfather, groom and grandmother, bride and godfather -- it became excessive. We wanted to dance too!" -- Angie, 25

Gripe 22: The Drive-by Hi

"It stinks when the couple doesn't say 'hi' and 'thanks for coming' to you because they're so busy." -- Rosanna, 33

Gripe 23: Obstructed Views

"Centerpieces that are too big are a problem. It's nice to have dinner conversation, and I've been to too many weddings where the centerpieces blocked my view of the other side of the table." -- Valerie, 25

-- Judy Dutton