Kirby sent a link to this video of a very… spirited wedding that is actually a promo for Wild Roses. While this thankfully isn’t a record of some real affair ruined by feuding families, it did get me to thinking. One does hope that most brides and grooms get to enjoy idyllic weddings, but the fact is that some ceremonies and receptions will be marred by squabbles, cattiness, yelling, and the occasional punch in the eye.
Once upon a time I might have asked myself just who uses a wedding as a forum to give new life to old tensions, but that was before I ended up connected via marriage to some people with large chips on their shoulders. The long and the short of it is that weddings can bring out the worst in people — even people who are otherwise sane and balanced. Common offenders include divorced parents, siblings on the outs, former lovers, and anyone who doesn’t quite approve of the union being consecrated.
So how can you prevent a matrimonial meltdown like the one above? The key is to diffuse whatever tensions can be diffused before the big day instead of worrying impotently about what might happen on the big day. Here are just some of the ways you can prevent major big day blowouts:
- Be sensitive to (or at least pretend to be sensitive to) the concerns of feuding family and friends. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with their grievances or give in when so-and-so asks you not to invite the object of their ire, but you can provide a listening ear. Reassure everyone involved that you’re only asking that people be civil for a few hours, not that sworn enemies become fast friends. Do not, however, let yourself be manipulated into excluding people you care about from your ceremony or reception.
- Approach feuding family and friends directly to ask what they can do and what you can do to ensure a peaceful wedding ceremony and reception. Don’t be judgmental or try to downplay the issues at hand — instead, make it clear that you know about the problems they’ve had with other guests in the past and that you want them to be as comfortable as possible at your wedding. Discuss how you can work together to make that happen.
- Create a buffer zone wherever spats are likely to occur. This might mean seating divorced parents far away from one another or keeping your battling bridesmaids so busy that they don’t have time to fight. Splitting up wedding duties will also keep resentment levels at a minimum, since no one relative or friend will have more responsibility (or perks) than any other.
- Finally, if problems cross familial lines, it can help to let your fiancé(e) deal with his/her family while you deal with yours. Even though you’re joining each others’ families and it may already feel like you have, speaking out when bad blood is involved can create more bad blood. However, when you’re dealing with your own relatives, make sure they know you aren’t taking sides.
It may help to remind yourself that you ultimately cannot control what your wedding guests and attendants do. You can choose not to invite certain people and you can seat guests on the outs far from one another, but other than that, feuding family and friends are going to do what they’re going to do. Remember that their bad behavior won’t reflect badly on you and try not to stress out about what might happen because chances are that no one you care about is going to do anything to mar your happy day.