Wedding Drama: How to Deal with Difficult Family Members

Everyone dreams of having that perfect wedding – the one where every single guest behaves themselves, has a great time, and lets the bride and groom enjoy their day. But unfortunately, that’s not the reality for some couples.

There are lots of ways that family members, whether yours or your partners, might bring drama to your big day. Controlling family members might try to tell you what kind of wedding you ‘should’ have, or might want to make the event all about themselves. Worse still, belligerent guests might cause some kind of scene at your wedding itself – particularly if drink is involved.

If you know that you (or your partner) have difficult family members that might cause a problem at your wedding, the best thing to do is try and defuse the situation before it happens. If you can’t avoid inviting problem family members, aim to communicate what’s expected of them before the big day, and don’t be afraid to hire wedding security in case they’re needed.

Controlling Family Members

A wedding should be a celebration of the couple, and so should suitably reflect the couple’s sensibilities. So, if you’re a free-and-easy kind of person, you might want to have your ceremony in a natural woodland glade; if you’re a stickler for the traditional, you might want your ceremony to be in a big church. There isn’t an incorrect approach, of course, only what suits you.
But as you no doubt know, that doesn’t stop other family members from having input. And unfortunately, some can take this role a little too far. This is especially an issue with the parents of the couple, who if they’re paying for any part of the wedding, will no doubt want to influence what kind of wedding it is. They may feel that they can dictate every aspect of it, from the kind of dress you wear to the venue.

How to Regain Control of Your Wedding

What you do about this issue depends on how deep it goes. Some parents can be highly controlling in ways that make you uncomfortable outside the context of your wedding, while others are normally reasonable, but seem to catch some kind of wedding-madness.

If your parents fall into the latter category, you should consider:

- Holding a sit-down talk with them. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your parents. Give them a chance to understand how you’re feeling, and a chance for them to respect that.
- Asking for less of them. With some people, you can give an inch and they’ll take a mile. Without being harsh, give them less to do, less to organise, and a smaller role in your wedding.
- Hire a wedding planner. Wedding planners don’t just do the hard work for you. They give you cover.

If it would be difficult for you to wrestle control back from your parents, by hiring somebody to plan your wedding, you also hire somebody who can do that for you.
If your parents fall into the former category, then this issue will be more difficult to tackle. We recommend teaming up with your partner: tell them what’s wrong and get their support. Working as a team with your soon-to-be-other-half will make you feel braver, more capable, and more resilient in the face of controlling parents.

Stressed-Out Wedding Guests

Weddings are stressful enough at the best of times. You will likely have guests at your wedding who feel that stress as much as you do, if not more, especially if they’re close to you. That’s probably no fault of their own: stress and anxiety can affect the ‘strongest’ of people and be very difficult to overcome.

But while these guests deserve your every sympathy, you also have a wedding day to run. You’re likely feeling the same anxieties yourself, and having guests pile their feelings on you will make that worse. So, what can you do about it?

How to Help Stressed-Out Guests at a Wedding

You can, to put it diplomatically, put a member of the wedding party in charge of herding these particular cats. Or, to put it less diplomatically, make them somebody else’s problem. There are a few ways you can do this. The maid of honour’s role encompasses taking care of the little things (like carrying things and ironing out organisational wrinkles), so dealing with stressed relatives is partly their job. There are also ushers, who have a similar role, as they guide guests where they need to be.
The ushers and maid of honour should deal with any questions and problems that stressed-out guests have, and should ideally do so without having to ask you for guidance. If there are any guests who are likely to cause this kind of trouble, inform your ushers/maid of honour ahead of time.

If you’re having a large wedding, you could consider hiring a day-of coordinator. A day-of coordinator is like a wedding planner, except they take a more hands-on role on the day of the wedding itself. They’re like a professional usher, handling every organisational issue and making sure the day goes smoothly. If you have the budget, and you know that stressed guests are likely to be a problem, hiring a day-of coordinator could be a good decision.

Drunk Wedding Reception Guests

Weddings are celebrations, and most people celebrate by drinking. You may have guests at your wedding that get rowdy when they drink, or you may have family members who drink altogether too much. These people may make a scene, start fights, or just make fools of themselves. But what can you do to stop them?

How to Deal with Drunk Guests at a Wedding

One issue is the free bar. While it’s nice to offer a free bar to your guests, some people may take advantage by having far more to drink than other guests. This is particularly an issue if you set up the free bar—as many couples do—in the form of a tab, and once the tab reaches a certain amount, the free bar is over.

Instead, you should consider using drink tokens. These are small tokens like raffle tickets that you hand out to each guest. When the guest wants a drink, they hand the bartender one of the tickets, which the staff behind the bar are supposed to keep. Once the guest has run out of tickets, they can’t get any more free drinks. This makes it harder for certain guests to drink themselves to oblivion. If you do plan on using these tokens, make that clear to your venue in advance. You can find drink tokens in the online store!

This doesn’t solve the problem of guests bringing their own alcohol, or just paying for it at the bar. There are a few ways to deal with drunk guests that you can then use:

- Talk to them. If they aren’t drunk enough to make a scene, but they’re getting there, try to tactfully discourage them from drinking any more!
- Identify somebody who they know, e.g. their plus-one, and encourage them to take the guest back to their room/home.
- Speak to the venue staff and/or security. If the guest is getting shouty or fight-y, don’t let them ruin your night. Ask the venue staff to encourage them home, or security, if you hired any.
Dramatic Family Members
There are lots of ways that guests might make your wedding day all about them. A female guest, even your mother or mother in law, might wear a white dress; or, a particularly belligerent uncle might pick a fight with somebody they don’t like. Or, God forbid, somebody might propose to somebody else at your reception—is there anything worse?

How to Stop Wedding Day Drama

Some drama can be prevented before it starts. You may be able to identify particularly dramatic guests on your guest list from their reputation alone. If that’s the case, you have a few options available to you:

- Talk to them. If you feel brave enough, confront them in advance. Remind them that your wedding day should be yours alone, and that if they want to pick fights or cause a scene, they can do it on their own time and at their own expense!
- Don’t invite them. If you feel like you can’t confront them, and that they’re sure to bring their drama with them, don’t invite them. This causes a drama all of its own, but it’s either that or have them disrupt your wedding day.
- Seat them ‘safely’. If neither option above takes your fancy, try to corral them and contain them. Seat them at a table you know will be safe, i.e. with people they won’t start a spat with.
- Learn to accept little difficulties. Your wedding day probably won’t be perfect even if there’s nobody ‘dramatic’ there. Enjoy your day for what it is, and compartmentalise your annoyance for these people away from the joy you feel with your partner. Deal with it later.
It may not sound like a lot of fun to simply accept the drama people will bring to your day. But if there’s no way to contain these people or avoid inviting them, what other choice do you have?

If All Else Fails: Hire Security

Believe it or not, wedding day security is a thing. Some venues offer their own security, but it’s also possible to hire your own. These security guards are like the kind you might find at any other event: they’re typically big, intimidating and professional.

One way in which people use security guards at weddings is to have them stand on the door. They can then check for the attendee’s name on the guest list, and if their name isn’t there, they won’t be allowed in. This stops gate-crashers from attending the wedding. So, if you’ve not invited certain toxic family members, security can keep them away for you.

Security can also be used to essentially police the reception as it happens. If any fights break out, security can be there to end them. They can safely remove the problem guests from the premises so that you don’t have to get involved.

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