The RSVPs have been counted and recounted, extra liquor ordered in case the bar runs low, and tents procured in the event of rain. Every effort has been made to ensure that your wedding day unfolds with fairy-tale perfection.
But like all plans, even the best-laid nuptial schemes can go awry. Here are five of the most-expensive lawsuits to emerge from wedding-day mishaps.
The million-dollar wedding fiasco
Washington, D.C., power couple Joan and Bernard Carl wanted a lavish, multiday event for their eldest daughter’s 2014 wedding: one ceremony in the Hamptons and a second in France’s Loire Valley. They hired Los Angeles-based celebrity events planner Mindy Weiss—her bridal clients include Sofia Vergara, Ellen DeGeneres, Gwen Stefani, and the Kardashians—to design the million-dollar affair.
But Weiss ultimately sued the couple in February in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York for $340,000 in unpaid fees and expenses, plus $1.4 million in damages, while the Carl family counters that Weiss went on an unauthorized spending spree on their tab, and on top of everything else is continuing to hold the bridal video hostage.
Please don’t shoot your fellow guests
Anna Goldshmidt and her husband-to-be, Elan Stratiyevsky, had rented out the entire 35th floor of New York City’s famed Waldorf Astoria, and spent over $1 million on their 2015 wedding. But in the minutes between the ceremony and the reception, a gun belonging to the groom’s cousin accidentally discharged, wounding four guests and causing panic, after which the hotel cancelled the reception.
The newlyweds subsequently filed a lawsuit for unspecified damages against Vladimir Gotlibovsky, the man who fired the gun—who in turn filed a lawsuit against the Waldorf Astoria, saying the hotel should be responsible for at least half the damages for canceling the event.
The runaway groom
Dominique Buttitta had only the finest reserved for her 2010 suburban Chicago wedding: a $30,000 deposit on banquet, $10,000 for an orchestra, and $5,000 on a gown. So when her groom backed out four days before the ceremony, Buttitta was left holding the bag.
In a civil suit, she accused her betrothed, Vito Salerno, of “breach of promise to marry” and intentional infliction of emotional distress, seeking more than $95,000 in damages, plus the costs of filing the suit.
Not so sweet
In January, 2013, Rachel Cryer and her mother attended a cake-tasting appointment at Sweet Cakes, a Gresham, Oregon, bakery. When asked the names of the bride and groom, Cryer told bakery owner Melissa Klein that her betrothed was a woman. Klein refused, citing an unwillingness to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.
In August of 2013, Cryer and her partner, Laurel Bowman, complained to the state Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). The agency investigated and in January, 2014, brought charges that Klein and her husband (the bakery’s co-owner) had unlawfully discriminated against the couple because of their sexual orientation. BOLI investigators said Klein’s refusal violated the women’s civil rights and awarded $75,000 in damages to Cryer and $60,000 to Bowman for emotional suffering.
The million-dollar photo album cover
When Dallas couple Andrew and Neely Moldovan signed a contract with area wedding photographer Andrea Polito for their 2015 wedding, they saw no special provisions for their “storybook album” cover. So when Polito dinged the couple $150 for the album’s cover, the Moldovans hit back, taking their viewpoint—that a photo album includes a cover—to social media and the local NBC affiliate.
In addition to retaining their photos, Polito filed a million-dollar defamation suit against the couple, charging that “the Moldovans’ tortious actions have damaged Polito’s personal and professional reputation, caused her extreme emotional distress, and already caused, and will continue to cause, substantial economic damages.”
Don’t let it happen to you
Here’s some advice on how to prevent wedding mishaps, and some tips on indemnifying yourself should the unthinkable happen. And if you’re really looking to prevent nuptial legal contretemps, consider hiring a wedding attorney as well as a wedding planner.