Ross and Emily (Friends)
Saying someone else’s name during sex is one of the most embarrassing things that can ever happen to you. Now imagine what it would be like say someone else’s name during your wedding vows. Fortunately, you don’t have to put yourself in that position, because Friends explored that particular life-shattering slip of the tongue during Ross Geller’s wedding to Emily Waltham, in which he accidentally blurts out Rachel’s name instead.
Although the season ends on that ridiculous cliffhanger, the wedding continues as planned at the start of the next season. But, unsurprisingly, the marriage does not go very well, and Emily puts an end to it after Ross refuses to stop being friends with Rachel.
Kelly Taylor and Brandon Walsh (Beverly Hills, 90210)
Speaking of friends, that’s exactly what Beverly Hills, 90210’s Kelly Taylor and Brandon Walsh decide that they’d be better off as — at the very last minute. So, while they decided to call off their nuptials, they went ahead with the reception, slow dancing and feeding each other wedding cake like everything was just peachy. Then Brandon, the last Walsh to leave the show, moved to Washington DC, and was barely heard from again. Confusing, right?
For those of us who were always on Team Dylan, and wished that Kelly had taken him up on that offer of a trip around the world, it was quite the victory, but anyone who has seen the CW reboot of the series knows that things didn’t end up so great for them either.
Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger (Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?)
In 2000, Fox put together a reality show in which 50 women from 50 different states competed in beauty pageant-like contests to win the hand of a reported millionaire, Rick Rockwell. He chose Darva Conger from California, and the two were married on the spot in a two-hour broadcast special. Conger received over $100,000 in prizes, and the show attracted over 20 million viewers. Two total strangers marrying each other for fame, money, and appearances? What could go wrong, you ask?
The better question is what could go right, and the answer to that is pretty much nothing. It turned out that Rockwell wasn’t actually a millionaire — apparently “Rockwell” wasn’t even his real name — and he neglected to mention to Fox that a former girlfriend once filed a restraining order against him for domestic violence. The wedding was never consummated and quickly annulled, though Conger kept all the cash she made from selling the prizes.
Margaret Sterling’s poorly timed nuptials (Mad Men)
We don’t actually know that much about the relationship between Margaret Sterling and her fiancé, so we can’t speak to whether or not they should be married in the first place. At the very least, though, they should have postponed the ceremony, seeing as it happens to take place on the day after President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. Most of the guests decide not to come, and the ones who do have to force smiles and pretend that everything is fine and that the president wasn’t just murdered – and that Roger Sterling’s new wife isn’t an incredibly embarrassing drunk.
Donna Noble and Lance Bennett (Doctor Who)
As a time traveling alien from the planet Gallifrey, the Doctor is used to the unexpected, but he certainly isn’t prepared for the sudden arrival of Donna Noble in his time machine, as played by British television star Catherine Tate (if she looks familiar, you might have seen her interview to take over Michael Scott’s position on The Office last season).
Donna ends up being late to her own wedding, and discovers her fiancé dancing with another woman at the reception – and if that isn’t bad enough, then she finds out that he intends to feed her to a race of giant spider-people who’ve been hibernating in the Earth’s core for millennia. The spiders snack on him instead, which is a bit of a relief, because what would you cite as the grounds for that divorce? We’re pretty sure there isn’t a box you can check for “betrayal of humanity to alien invaders” – though in the Doctor Who universe, there probably should be.
Charlotte and Trey MacDougal (Sex and the City)
Maybe it’s the fact that he’s a doctor from a rich family, or maybe it’s his handsome face, but Charlotte is convinced that the two are destined for each other when she almost gets hit by the taxi he’s riding in. After only a month, she manipulates him into proposing, using a trick that she picks up from his overbearing mother, and the two are quickly married in an almost-perfect ceremony (save for Charlotte’s multiple panic attacks).
After their elegant wedding, Charlotte gives up her career to be with Trey, only to discover that he is suffering from some very disappointing sexual issues and doesn’t want the children that she wants. The two eventually split up. Maybe true love isn’t the sort of thing you find in someone who almost runs you over in a car, after all.
Izzie and Alex (Grey’s Anatomy)
Oh boy, where do we start with this pair? First Alex cheats on Izzie with a nurse after they start dating. Then, when they get back together, Izzie continually hallucinates that she’s cheating on him with her ex-boyfriend Denny, who, by the way, died two seasons ago. Then we find out that her hallucinations have been brought on by a tumor in her brain, and their engaged coworkers decide to give her and Alex their already-planned wedding, because being married is definitely high up on the list of Things to Do Before You Die Tragically.
If an impromptu wedding that you’ve effectively stolen from your friends sounds like a bad idea, that’s because it is. The couple doesn’t last very long, and not because Izzie dies (even though she almost does in the Season 5 finale cliffhanger), but because she abruptly disappears — not for any good reason, but because Katherine Heigl wanted to advance her movie career.
Amanda and Prince Michael of Moldavia (Dynasty)
During its nine-year run, the primetime soap opera Dynasty was infamous for its intense cliffhangers, as well as its tendency toward opulent and dramatic plots. The wedding of Amanda Benford and Prince Michael definitely delivered in both these categories. Never mind the fact that the two were never particularly suited to one another – the ceremony itself ended when political terrorists broke into the church and opened fire on the congregation, finishing the season with everyone lying on the floor, seemingly dead. Viewers (all 26 million of them) had to wait until the start of the next TV season to learn which of their favorite characters were coming back.
Of course, it’s very rare for a television show to replace its entire cast, so the only characters who died were secondary love interests. Amanda and Michael both survived, though their marriage didn’t even last to the end of Season 6, and Michael quickly skipped town so that Amanda could fall back in love with her mother’s new husband. Like you do.
Sydney and Craig (Melrose Place)
Admittedly it’s hard to top a wedding ruined by political terrorists, but you could argue that Melrose Place‘s decision to have its bride fatally rundown by a car at her own reception was pretty dramatic too. At least, that’s what we thought happened at the time. Thanks to the 2009 reboot, we learned that Sydney actually faked her death with some help from her diabolical ex-husband, Michael, because she believed that her new husband, Craig, was in danger. Or something like that. With a character like Sydney, it’s never really clear what you can believe.
Maria LaGuarta and Angel Batista (Dexter)
At first this seemed like the perfect fit – we know Laguerta likes to get involved with coworkers, judging by her weird, one-episode crush on Dexter in the series’ pilot and her relationship with Doakes (who we still wish would come back from the dead and call Dexter a motherfucker just one more time), and we know that Batista is recently divorced. Why not hitch the two together so they can interject random words of Spanish into their whispered sweet nothings all the livelong day?
Let’s be honest, though: their love was doomed even before their secret wedding – and by “doomed,” we mean “annoying.” Their whole will-they-choose-work-or-romance-or-maybe-both conflict was so bland that no one was surprised when they got divorced. Hopefully, they won’t try to get back together again – or better yet, maybe one of them will start killing people so Dexter can end the pairing once and for all.
Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries
Of course we couldn’t talk about disastrous wedding without bringing up the star-crossed marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries (we say “star-crossed” because we’re pretty sure the only thing the couple cared about was being reality-TV stars). The wedding aired on E! in October during a two-part, four-hour special that drew about four million viewers a night.
E! hadn’t even stopped airing the reruns before Kim filed for divorce in late October, 72 days after the wedding took place. Since then, the marriage has been widely decried as a choreographed publicity stunt. As of December, Humphries had filed an annulment petition on the grounds of fraud, so maybe he didn’t get the memo that the whole thing was fake.
Luke and Laura (General Hospital)
Think people were way too emotionally invested in Kim and Kris? The media buzz around their wedding doesn’t even begin to compare to the spectacle of Luke and Laura, whose wedding brought in over 30 million viewers and is still the most watched event in the history of daytime TV. During that week in 1981, actors Anthony Geary and Genie Francis appeared on the covers of both People and Newsweek, and Princess Diana even reportedly sent the show a bottle of champagne.
The only problem? Three years prior to the marriage, the show featured a storyline in which Luke rapes Laura in a local disco. The writers later tried to reframe the incident as a seduction so that the two would be able to put it aside and fall in love, but it’s still pretty disgusting, if you ask us. Only 20 years later did the “power couple” finally come to terms with Luke’s crime, and by then it was too late to retract the show’s suggestion that rape can initiate a successful courtship.