Wedding Industry Workers Reveal Red Flags That Mean a Doomed Relationship

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Working in the wedding industry seems like it’d be super fun and interesting. You get to see hundreds of couples vow to share their lives with one another on the happiest day of their lives. Seeing that kind of love on a regular basis could really restore someone’s faith in humanity.

Of course, there are also plenty of weddings that aren’t super happy and fun, and I’m sure being in the wedding industry means dealing with plenty of couples who probably shouldn’t be getting married to one another.

A recent AskReddit thread asked wedding photographers, videographers, and other industry insiders to share the red flags that they see in couples that don’t end up staying together. The replies came flooding in, and boy oh boy they are juicy!

Here are some of our favorite responses. Not only are they kind of fun to read; they can also act as a good gauge against which to judge your own relationship. Hopefully, you and your partner are nothing like the ones who took their engagement photos in Iceland…

These start off with quite a doozy:

Wedding band guitar player here. Drunken, gorilla-sized groom physically attacked us when we cut off the music after already going over our contracted time an hour. Mother of the groom got into the mix and pulled him back. Bride was in tears. Best man pulled out a Bluetooth speaker and kept the party going. We did not get a 5-star review. So that was a red flag. They lasted a few months.LincoInHawk79

This story, on the other hand, is actually super sweet!

I am a wedding photographer. I think you can kind of tell if they are going to stay together forever based on how they handle all the little (and sometimes even big) problems a wedding day can bring. There was one couple’s story I love to tell. They are not your typical bride and groom, they had their wedding in a forest where you could also go climbing. All vegan food and a lot of friends with looots of dogs. Everything was perfect, except for the special dress the bride had made and painted didn’t arrive in time for the ceremony and she was devastated. She was in her sweatpants and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt at that time and her soon-to-be-husband took off his suit, put on a big white shirt, stood there in his boxer shorts and just said, “Well, we have to go.” She just laughed and went with it. I was in shock but other than it being strange to have hairy man-legs in my wedding photos, taking the pictures was really fun and they were totally relaxed. I’m pretty sure they will be doing well.saerahmarina

So much for the honeymoon phase.

I didn’t need a sixth sense when I heard that on their honeymoon, the bride cheated on the groom, so the groom’s parents didn’t want the photos OR the video I had shot. Instead, they wanted me to sue her for the remainder of the money they owed me. I told them I was sorry but they signed the contract so they had to pay.Tamarajm10

This story made my jaw drop.

I am a videographer. Most weddings we video are fairly smooth. Couple is happy. Family cries tears of joy. Lots of laughter. That bit. We did film one wedding that seemed fine right up until the aisle walk. Everyone was seated in the ceremony hall. Groom and all his men are up front with the officiant. The bride walks in with her father. At this point, I’m filming the groom and his reaction. I see the best man pull out a flask from his jacket pocket—the rest of the men do the same except Groom. So this is clearly planned. The best man speaks loud enough over the music so people turn to him away from the Bride. He raises his glass high and shouts “Here’s to [Bride Name], here’s to [Groom Name]; may you never disagree. But if you do…” He points at the bride with his flask hand and finishes “F— YOU, here’s to Groom Name.” They all drink to their frat boy toast. The best man hands the Groom his flask and he drinks it laughing!! The look of disgust on her whole family’s face the entire night after that was priceless and highly awkward to film. Needless to say I think that’s a big red flag.tuckahoe89


Photographer here.  I swear that all of the couples that have split up have smashed the cake in their SO’s face.  None of the nice cake couples have. Just my weird anecdotal experience. Maybe it’s a sign of respect for each other.kylesford  


Former wedding videographer. After reading a letter from the groom (prior to the ceremony), the bride said — and I quote — “Well that was f–king stupid.” I cut that part out in the final video.flyingthedonut

At least this one has a (kind of) happy ending:

Wedding videographer here. I try to get to know both people beforehand, so I can work in their hobbies/unique traits into my product. A big red flag is when one person is clearly trying to change the other. I had one dude who loved poker, craft beer, cigars, hanging with his rowdy friends, video games, etc. I planned a cool shoot where I had all his friends in an old west saloon, and he sees his bride-to-be, etc… but she steps in and declares “Oh, he won’t be doing any of those things anymore.” Poor guy just sat there in silence as I awkwardly had to plan them shopping for a Yorkie puppy instead. Halfway through post-production after the wedding, he called and said he was getting an annulment. I wanted to say “could have told ya so!” But I try to stay neutral.c64bandit

Not smiling? Yeah, that’s a huge red flag.

I used to be a wedding photographer. Typically, I saw red flags when the bride or groom is super quiet. I mean silent and just watching. One instance was a groom who barely said ten words to anyone during the ceremony or reception afterward. The bride and her mother were extremely loud and excited the entire time. The bride needed everything to be “perfect.” I dropped off the photo bundle with them two weeks later and he was still quiet. She, however, complained about all of the pictures because the groom wasn’t “smiling enough.” She wanted a discount because I couldn’t make him look happy enough. They got divorced about a year later. I know because I did his engagement photos with his new fiancée about four years after his first wedding. His engagement photos showed him much happier.Compulsive-Gremlin

I love this photographer’s description of the groom:

My husband and I are wedding photographers. We’ve been pretty lucky so far and haven’t had too many crazies. We have stayed friends with a few of the couples and see them regularly. The one couple we hope we never see again fought the entire wedding day. The couple barely looked at each other, it was so bad. Then we had to photoshop a smile onto the groom a couple of times so he at least looked happy in the ceremony of all things. To describe what he looked like, I would compare him to a Polish meat butcher with transitions lensed glasses. Totally brutal. I have no idea if they are together still but I would say not.golden-lining

Talk about awkward.

Wedding videographer here. Had a couple fly us out to Iceland for their engagement shoot. Now the first couple of days were fine and everything looked okay, but in Iceland, some lodging options aren’t very luxurious. The groom chose to book what was essentially a tiny bunkhouse (the ones meant for those summer camps) and the bride lost it and complained the whole night. Next morning things are pretty tense and our team continues the shoot as planned even though it is incredibly awkward. Most of our plans fall through because they start arguing. In front of a beautiful, solitary glacier. For two hours. Our team can hear them yelling at each other half a mile away because there is literally no one else around for miles. We finish up whatever we could of the last day of the shoot and awkwardly said our goodbyes. Later on, I learn that they broke up a month before the wedding.Aeonasphere


Red flag: The groom winking at both my assistant and I during the ceremony. He was not winking in the sense that he might have been tearing up or had something in his eye. There was a part in the ceremony where the couple sat down and he would lean his head back in his chair look past his soon-to-be wife and wink at me or look over his left shoulder and wink at my assistant. It was bizarre.shinyquartersquirrel

This makes sense.

Photographer here. You can tell somewhat based on how the couple treats each other on the wedding day. If they are respectful toward one another (and toward me) during a day full of stress then I think that’s a good indicator of being able to deal with other problems that may arise during a marriage.thr3epointone4

I am SO curious about this venue!

There is one particular venue that has a 100% divorce rate with our clients. It’s a state park, which I’ve dubbed Omen Meadows. Beautiful location with a lot of Civil War history. It’s a rustic open air ‘barn variety’ venue with a really pretty path along the water. It’s really very charming and with basically no services built in, it’s priced just around $300 for the whole day—literally like 6 am to 2 am, with very generous noise allowances—so it’s great for the DIY crowd. I definitely understand why people find it so appealing, but it seems like some kind of bad mojo has taken up residence or something. 9/9 so far.plymouthvan

A tale of two cakes.

Cake artist here. I had a couple come in for a tasting. The appointment was for 7 PM, but he was late. First half hour was just her. She told me they met at a stable where they both kept their horses. Those horses were going to be featured at the wedding as the bride and groom would ride them to the site (a beautiful farm venue.) She described in detail her self-designed medieval gown, flower wreath in her hair, embroidered shoes like some from a museum: sounded lovely. She wanted a cake like a castle, which was a specialty of mine. The whole wedding would be over the top, but not in a cringy way. Then he arrives. Barely says hi to her, sits down and starts telling me about his wedding. He’ll ride in dressed as a riverboat gambler with a frock coat, brocade vest, string tie, big hat, gold pocket watch, and STERLING SILVER SPURS! He’s fine with the castle cake but wants to incorporate the watch and a pair of mother of pearl handled pistols. I had already decided that I was not going to work with them. NO way could I come up with a cake that would work for them. But they were there so I brought out the samples. For the next hour, they carried on two entirely separate monologues. They didn’t address each other (or me) and they didn’t listen to each other (or me). I made no attempt to book them that night, and when they called later in the week I told them their date had been taken. They were living in 2 incompatible and entirely self-contained fantasies. I doubt they even made it to the wedding day.czndra60

Same team!

I was a wedding photographer for many years. It was pretty easy to tell which couples were going to last and which ones would soon be divorced. The main behavior differentiating the two was whether they were on the same team, helping each other and lifting each other up in the face of the inevitable problems and stress that come with weddings. Good couples tackle problems together. Bad couples take sides and fight/blame each other when something goes wrong.chriberg

Here’s another fascinating behind-the-scenes look!

Boudoir photographer here. Green flags: the day goes smoothly, and they’re eager to buy an album afterward, and we get a stellar review — and they go on to seemingly have a happy, healthy marriage. Bonus, we get e-mails or calls later from the groom expressing his fondness for the photos, thanking us for boosting her confidence, making her look gorgeous, etc, and now he wants a wall print. Neat! Red flags: If they spend the bulk of the time complaining with their friend about the groom’s opinions and behavior, the relationship tends to fizzle out before the wedding. Worse yet, bride spends the bulk of the time upset, texting her groom, or having arguments over the phone, because he doesn’t “like the idea of someone else seeing her in her underwear” and is sabotaging the shoot from afar. If a bride has ugly-cried during a boudoir shoot arguing with her husband-to-be, 9/10 that marriage doesn’t happen.amy_danger

Seems simple enough.

I make a LOT of engagement rings. It’s actually really simple. If they’re nice to each other and nice to me and my staff, they’re going to do well. If they’re short-tempered, rude, pushy, etc., it’s a sign they don’t really want to be there.diamonddealer

Interesting observation!

I used to help a buddy of mine do wedding videos back in college. I found the bigger the country hit they use for the wedding song, the shorter the marriage. Obscure songs seemed to last longer.sbashe5

Sharing the experience.

A friend of mine is a fairly successful engagement/marriage photographer, as well as a relationship blogger. She says she can tell how in love a couple is based on whether they pay attention to each other during the photos or her, the photographer. I guess it’s the contrast of sharing an experience together versus fretting over optics. I’ve never heard her mention specific red flags, but she speaks very highly of couples who are willing to be silly and adventurous in their engagement shoots over those who are just taking the most glamorous/stream-lined portraits.Chelseafrown

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Photographer here, I’ve done a few engagement photos and weddings. Some red flags are when one person is critical of the other during the shoot but then posts the photos with the caption: “About to marry my best friend and my soulmate.” Also, when they badly Photoshop themselves and their partners to appear “better looking” than they actually are.FiberWong

The constant apologizing is one you might not have thought of:

I used to be a Wedding Planner: Some red flags are constantly apologizing for their other half’s behavior/ attitude. Lack of input from one of them. Too much input from a family member(s). Anger, inability to make a decision and stick with it.AlmousCurious

And another list:

Former wedding photographer here. Here are some of mine: Too young. Sorry guys, but if you mom is hiring us and the only one working with us because you are 19-23(ish?) you are probably not going to stay married for long, even more so if you are pregnant, have a child, or one is military. Yeah, military of almost any age. One member of the couple is very nice and sweet, and one is trashy.wildeflowers

Oooooh boy.

The biggest red flag I ever saw: I was the assistant photographer at a wedding that took place in a 20ish story hotel. I took the groom downstairs to meet his groomsmen for photos on the street, riding alone with him on the elevator. He’d had a couple of beers with his groomsmen but was far from drunk. On the elevator ride, he looked at himself in the reflective metal doors of the elevator and said, loud enough for me to hear, “What the f— are you doing?” I stayed completely and didn’t say a word. We got off the elevator and neither of us mentioned it.vivadixiesubmarine

I kind of wish I had been at this wedding:

It was the first wedding I ever photographed. I asked how he proposed and apparently, he didn’t. The bride came home one day and was like “we’re getting married” and he was like “uh….alright” The bride also RAN down the aisle to Beyoncé’s “Halo.” It was a sight. I believe they got a divorce a few years later.shattered-vase

This observation about the vows is super fascinating:

Wedding video editor here. Red flags include when one partner is having a lot of fun, dancing and mingling, while the other is mostly sitting down. They aren’t smiling except when taking photos The vows are very fluffy or almost selfish. Like how’d you’d imagine an 11-year-old talking about their Prince Charming. Bonus if the counterpart has something very short and not as emotional.codecduck

It was a sign.

Was shooting a friend’s wedding years ago and witnessed a pretty serious red flag. To close the vows part they did a sand mixing metaphor thing where he had a vial of white sand and she a vial of black sand and they were to pour them into a tall empty vial together to make grey sand symbolizing their inseparable union. As they poured they could not sync with each other at all, one would slow down the other sped up and vice versa, they ended up pouring near perfectly stratified black and white layers. He nervously giggled and she looked forlorn as the pastor and guests marveled at their zebra striped creation, they lasted about 2 years.KingLesbian

Great party.

I was a party bus driver for almost 5 years. All too often we’d get a “combined” bachelor/bachelorette party, and those were the worst. 90% of the time it was the super controlling bride who didn’t want the groom out on his own with his boys. When I was the office manager I really tried to discourage this, as it seldom ended well. There would almost always be fighting and drama. Men, if your lady won’t “let you” have a bachelor party but wants her bachelorette party, that’s an enormous red flag.minaccia

Do not hire this person!

I’m a minister with a 100% divorce rate. I think the biggest red flag is me performing your marriage ceremony.Anivair

The makeup artists weighed in, too!

I’ve been a wedding makeup artist for a decade. For me, I don’t often meet the husband so this is more my observation of the bride. Red flags – the bride already trashed on mimosas at noon. The bride ordering everyone around. Bride having a meltdown about stupid stuff like seating arrangements. Mothers-in-law that refuse to even sit next to each other to get makeup done. Bride talking smack about hubs family. Bridal party fighting with each other. Caring more about spending a ton of money and being a fancy pants than being kind to your loved ones.kittenknievel

And here’s what a dance coach had to say:

I taught hundreds of couples their first wedding dance. I totally knew whose marriages would thrive and which couples would crash and burn and by what year into the marriage too. By working one on one with them over a period of months it becomes crystal clear to anyone around, too. Couples who — when learning a new skill together (regardless of talent towards that new skill) — compliment each other when one of them achieved something that the other did not, are going to make it in life. Couples who would pass blame on to the other one when challenged to acquire a new skill always put my divorce Spidey senses up.fliccolo Do you have any of your own relationship red flags? Let us know in the comments!