Every family has their issues, but wedding are meant to be a time of joy and celebration, not for the airing of grievances. So, if you find yourself with a guest list full of relatives that can’t stand each other, here’s eight tips for avoiding family dramas – and fights – on your big day.
When handling ‘tricky’ family matters, it’s important you and your partner work together as a team. Just because the troublesome uncles that fell out 20 years ago are from his side of the family, doesn’t mean you should wash your hands of any potential friction.
Communication is vital and all decisions as to who will and who won’t be invited need to be unanimous, especially if the friction stems from a guest’s dislike of you or your spouse-to-be. You are inviting trouble if you and your partner have different attitudes on such important matters, so talk it out beforehand.
Talk to them
Though most of us would rather avoid having to discuss difficult relationships with the problem guest, clear communication between them and you is important. Explain that you’re concerned about how they may feel having to spend the entire reception in a room with the person they have issues with – and try to find a solution. Make sure all parties know that you are willing to discuss the situation and give them the opportunity to state their case.
This is especially important when it comes to separated or divorced couples, especially when new partners are involved, some relatives may wish to be seated away from their former spouse or partner. They may even wish to decline your invitation so as to avoid being in the same room as their former mate or they may wish for their new partner to be invited.
It’s your call
This is your wedding day and it’s up to you and your partner to make the decisions, even if they might seem difficult. If you need to have a hard talk with someone – whether it’s about not drinking too much, or not talking to someone, or being on their best behaviour – have faith that as adults you can resolve the situation in a mature manner.
As it’s your wedding, you can do things the way you like. There’s nothing to say that you have to stick to traditions. If you aren’t close with your father, he does not have to escort you down the aisle. If you don’t want the names of your parents on the invitation, this is totally your call. You shouldn’t put partner and you through awkward or uncomfortable situations for the sake of tradition.
Something as simple as choosing smart table layouts can avoid a great deal of discomfort on the big day. Get to know the layout of your wedding venue and seat your guests accordingly. Putting angry relatives on the same table or adjacent tables might be asking for trouble! This goes the same for separated parents – you don’t want them thrusting divorce papers in each other’s faces in between wedding speeches. it’s just not fun.
Don’t ignore it
If you think a potential conflict will go away if you ignore it, think again. Sweeping potential issues under the rug can be fraught with danger. Be open and honest about the issues and try and tackle them well before the wedding day. If an irate parent lets off steam well before the wedding, they may be less inclined to do so on the day.
Bite your tongue?
When the conflict is between you and a guest – one that you definitely want there – your wedding is definitely not the best time to air grievances. Refer to the proverb ‘a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.’ You might believe you’re right in discussing a difficult situation. You may know you’re right. But remember that your goal is a happy and care-free wedding. If it means biting your tongue, do so. A win for you and your partner is a stress-free event when it comes to unhappy family members.
Do I need to invite them in the first place?
If you have considered the above points and the thought of having a certain person at your wedding is still so unpleasant and stressful, then you may want to consider not inviting them at all. Remember, it is your wedding and you want a pleasant occasion celebrating the love between you and your partner. Even if the person (or people) in question are immediate family, there is nothing to say that you HAVE to invite them. But please, think very carefully about your decision and the implications that not inviting them may have on your family before you pull the trigger!
Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty or bad about having a family with some members who clash. All families have their issues. Always allow the great benefits of your proposed union to outweigh any unhappy situations that can be avoided with careful and patient planning.