Fact Check

Avenging Bride or Groom

Bride or groom walks out of wedding after announcing that the new spouse has been sleeping with maid of honor or best man.

Published March 17, 2000


Legend:   Bride (or groom) whose prospective spouse slept with the maid of honor (or best man) humiliates cheater by spreading news of the infidelity to the wedding party, then walking out.


[Collected by Brunvand, 1985]

There was this big wedding in Simi Valley recently, and just before the vows were spoken, the bride turned to the assembled friends and relatives:

"I want to thank you all for being here and for the beautiful gifts you've given."

She turned to her beaming parents:

"I want to thank my mother and father for all they've done for me."

She turned to her husband-to-be:

"And I want to thank you for sleeping with my maid-of-honor last night!"

The bride then deposited her bouquet in the groom's face and stormed out of the church.

[Collected on the Internet, 1995]

If any of you guys out there have ever thought you have balls, forget about it. This is a true story that just happened at a wedding at Clemson. A buddy of mine from my baseball team knows a guy that was at the

This was a huge wedding with about 300 guests. After the wedding at the reception, the groom got up on stage at the microphone to talk to the crowd. He said that he wanted to thank everyone for coming, many from long distances, to support them at their wedding. He especially wanted to thank the bride's and groom's families for coming.

To thank everyone for coming and bring gifts and everything, he said he wanted to give everyone a gift from him. So taped to the bottom of everyone's chair was a manila envelope. He said that was his gift to everyone, and told them to open it.

Inside the manila envelope was an 8x10 picture of his best man having sex with the bride. (He must have gotten suspicious of the two of them and hired a private detective to trail them.) After he stood there and watched people's reactions for a couple of minutes, he turned to the best man and said, "Fuck you." He turned to the bride and said, "Fuck you," and then said, "I'm outta here".

He got the marriage annulled the next day.

While most of us would have broken it off immediately after we found out about the affair, this guy goes through with it anyway. His revenge: making the bride's parents pay for a 300-guest wedding and reception, letting everyone know exactly what did happen, and trashing the bride's and best man's reputations in front of friends, family, grandparents, etc.

This is his world, we just live in it.


  • Examples of the second version quoted above often include a preface identifying the tale as a "MasterCard moment" that "was in the local newspaper and even Jay Leno mentioned it," with a tacked-on ending reminiscent of a series of MasterCard television commercials:

    Do you think we might get a MasterCard "priceless" commercial outta this?

    Elegant wedding reception for 300 family members and friends.....$32,000

    Wedding photographs commemorating the occasion......$3,000

    Deluxe two week honeymoon accommodations in Maui.....$8,500

    The look on everyone's face when they see the 8x10 glossy of the bride humping the best man...


  • In August 2007, a politically-motivated variation changed the setting from Clemson University to Brigham Young University (BYU) and included a coda identifying the best man and bride-to-be as Mitt Romney (former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential hopeful) and his wife, Ann.

Origins:   This is an example of yet another revenge-based adultery legend spread throughout the USA and Canada in mid-1985. Although the bride was usually the wronged partner, folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand

Cartoon of the legend

reported that gender-switched versions in which the groom walked out on the wedding were circulating concurrently with the original. In late 1995 a more elaborate version with a male protagonist swept through the media and circulated widely on the Internet. This updated version (shown in the second example above) is more than a mere gender-switched version, however — it adds an extra helping of virtriol to the tale. Where the bride had been satisfied with voicing her grievance, throwing flowers in the groom's face, and walking out of the church, the groom is determined to make his bride suffer as much pain (both emotionally and financially) as possible.

Note the much coarser feel of the second version. The groom is not content merely to announce his bride's unfaithfulness: he provides every single guest with photographic proof, stays around long enough to savor their reactions, and spouts obscenities at the bride and best man. Moreover, his main motivation for the whole scheme is revealed as the desire to stick the bride's parents with the bill for a large wedding, even though it means actually going through with the legal process of getting married. (This last point makes little logical sense, as the groom could have walked out at any time during the ceremony and still have accomplished the same goal.) This version is almost as much about what a great prank a "guy with balls" can pull off in "his world" as it is about the fragility of romance and friendship. The legend may have picked up this extra "emphasis" in its latest go-round because monogamy and faithfulness are especially important in the era of AIDS, where a lack of commitment can ruin much more than a marriage.

When this legend was making the rounds in 1995, a Washington Post reporter attempted to run it to ground and found, as with most urban legends, that the target at the end of the chain proved an elusive one:

Some stories are just too good to spoil with the facts.

Here's one: A big wedding, very lavish and stylish. At the reception, the best man gets up to make the toast. The groom hops to his feet and says he'd like to say something first:

Thank you all for coming, and for your lovely gifts. But I am going to honeymoon in Hawaii and the bride is going to Aruba, and when we come

back the marriage will be annulled. And if you want to know why, look under your plates. (In some versions, he says look under your chairs.)

In yet another version, he just holds up the under-your-plate or under-your- chair picture: the bride and the best man in what is called a "compromising position" in polite company. He leaves.

Gasps. Fainting. But the party continues.

In some versions he and the bride leave, after some breakage of glass.

As with other urban myths (alligators in the sewer, people being kidnapped for body parts, movie stars appearing in emergency rooms with gerbil troubles), many people swear this story is true. They have heard it on the radio. They know someone who knows someone who was there. In some cases, they were actually there themselves.

But it didn't happen.

One source said a friend heard this story at a hotel in New Hampshire while checking in to attend another wedding.

I've heard that," said Gene Bryant, director of sales at the Clarion-Somerset Hotel in Nashua. "Just when you think you've heard everything ... I'll ask someone on the banquet staff and call you back."

He called back. "It did not happen here," said Bryant. "But it did happen in New Hampshire. Someone on our staff heard it on the radio. I think it was KISS 108."

That would be WXKS in Medford, Mass. Seems it has a morning show with a feature about weird weddings. Listeners call in to share.

A version of the tale was spread on the Internet, too, by someone who heard the best-man-and-bride story on a radio station in Chicago. In this version the groom had taped an 8-by-10 manila folder (note the precision of the details) to the bottom of every chair, directed the guests to open their surprise and waited for them to see the picture. He then turned to the best man and said "[Expletive] you," and then to the bride, and said the same thing.

Then came a tip that this wedding took place at the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia, N.Y., near Schenectady. A colleague's sister's housemate's nephew's wife's colleague heard it and swore it was true.

The mansion is a premier spot for weddings in the Schenectady area. People there were also familiar with the story.

"It did not happen," said Kimberly Kaminski, who has been delegated to handle these inquiries. "We've had over 300 calls about this. Five to 10 calls a day. Some people even say they were there! It came out of a project in a marketing class at Schenectady County Community College. They were doing an experiment in how word of mouth travels. It sure does!"

Brrring. Brring. "Thank you for calling Schenectady County Community College. If you are calling from a touch-tone telephone, press 1 now ... "

"We don't have any marketing classes this semester," said Carol Chiarella, chairman of the business and law department. "But there is one professor I can ask."

That was Toby Strianese, chairman of the hotel, culinary and tourism department. He had heard the story from his wife, who heard it on the radio. Then he heard it again from the dean's secretary, who heard it at a cocktail party. So he told the story in his class while his students were working on a marketing plan, to illustrate how rumors get started and can hurt a business. There were two students who work at the Glen Sanders Mansion, and he asked them if the story was true. They said it wasn't.

Another student said he had a cousin who was actually at the wedding. Strianese asked him to find out from the cousin what day the wedding was and the name of the groom, but the student never reported back.

"It's clearly an impossible story," said Strianese, who has worked in the restaurant business for 30 years. "Most people, if they think there will be a favor at the wedding, pick up the plate first thing to see if it's underneath. Also, who would have put the pictures under the plates? It would have to be the staff, because the groom would have been at the ceremony at the time the plates are being put out. And a staff person would not have been able to resist looking at the picture and talking about it."

The thread could perhaps be unraveled further, back to the person who actually dreamed it up. But that seems unlikely now that so many people — normal people — insist that it happened.

Strianese came across the story two more times. A student had a friend in Plattsburg who heard it on the radio. And a colleague heard it at a party of lawyers, where three of them were trying to figure out which principal was liable.

Now it has traveled to Washington. People love this story. They want to believe it. The Internet writer called it the Wedding Revenge story, emphasizing the retributive aspect of the groom going through with the ceremony, making the bride's parents pay for the huge reception for 300, and then wrecking the miscreants' reputations in front of all their nearest and dearest. Something so delicious just had to be true.

And Paul is dead.

Sightings:   The 1997 wedding of Stephanie Forrester (Susan Flannery) and Eric Forrester (John McCook) on the TV soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful featured a variation on this theme. A rival looking to disrupt the wedding planted a revealing photograph of Eric and Lauren Fenmore in the minister's Bible, and it fluttered out during the ceremony.

Last updated:   9 July 2005

  Sources Sources:

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Mexican Pet.

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1986.   ISBN 0-393-30542-2   (pp. 134-135).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Too Good to Be True.

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.   ISBN 0-393-04734-2   (pp. 124-128).

    Gabler, Neal.   "How Urban Myths Reveal Society's Fears."

    Los Angeles Times.   12 November 1995   (p. M1).

    Lavin, Cheryl.   "The Most Famous Wedding No One Attended."

    Chicago Tribune.   31 October 1990   (p. T2).

    Rosenfeld, Megan.   "The Bridegroom's Revenge: A Tale Too Good to be True."

    The Washington Post.   25 October 1995   (p. A1).

  Sources Also told in:

    Fiery, Ann.   The Complete and Totally True Book of Urban Legends.

    Philadelphia: Running Press Books, 2001.   ISBN 0-7624-107404   (pp. 26-31).

    Flynn, Mike.   The Best Book of Bizarre But True Stories Ever.

    London: Carlton, 1999.   ISBN 1-85868-558-3   (pp. 308-309).

    The Big Book of Urban Legends.

    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 124).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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