Avoiding Family Drama on Your Special Day
Photo Credit: www.marykatesteelephotography.com/
There’s something magical about weddings. Sure, that’s cliche, but it’s also true. Two people, stumbling into love, celebrating that with each other and their families. It’s the “families” thing that can sometimes be a little less magical. The “families” thing can morph Tinkerbell’s pixie dust into Icarus’ wax wings. The “families” thing can turn a blissful day of celebration into a tearful day of consternation. The “families” thing is a road to drama. But there are ways to sidestep the drama, and don’t worry, I’ll get to them!
I’ll never forget my mother-in-law pulling aside my husband’s brother and his wife to “chat.” Her need to pick-a-bone in the corner lasted from hor d’overs to send-off. The distracting and troublesome spat went on and on, guests glancing in their direction every now and then with raised eyebrows and disapproving frowns.
During my friend’s wedding, her new mother-in-law failed to show up at all, claiming that her ex-husband’s girlfriend was the cause of her absence. I distinctly remember a drunken toast given at my cousin’s wedding ending in “I’m just sad, because I guess misters actually are more important than sisters”—a butchered and tragic reference the the film White Christmas.
I also remember the weddings that had a perfect recipe for family drama—divorces, new marriages, year-long spats—but went off without any debacles or mishaps. While it makes sense that couples worry about family drama on their wedding day, that doesn’t have to be the case. No matter the situation, family drama on your big day is avoidable. By using a few tips and tricks, you can diminish the chances for a family-induced fiasco.
8 Ways to Manage Family Drama
1. Modify Tradition
Traditions are constantly evolving. It’s now more popular for newlyweds to exit their celebration under an arc of sparklers than the traditional rice. And according to Martha Stewart Weddings, couples used to save a piece of wedding cake until the birth of their first child! Walking down the aisle solo, nixing a head table, or opting to not have a maid of honor can all be great options to avoid tension or a scene.
2. Ensure a United Front
Before you jump into wedding planning, discuss with your partner the importance of staying united in moments of conflict. Debating cake flavors in front of family gives them something to pick sides over. If you disagree with your partner, catch them in a private moment and discuss a solution.
3. Be Careful With Your Tone
There are a lot of consequences to using a crummy tone. Telling your mother-in-law that the dress she’s been eying is “a putrid shade of green” is very different than saying “I love the cut, but I think a darker shade could really bring out your eyes.” Striking the right tone can go far when addressing touchy subjects.
4. Remember This Is Your Day
It’s tempting to consult everyone you know during the wedding planning process, but the fewer opinions you let in, the better. This doesn’t mean take everything on yourself; just be thoughtful when asking for opinions about big decisions like wedding colors, the venue, or the flavor of cake. Giving someone a say in these choices may lead to a false sense of entitlement later on. Plus, too many opinions can be overwhelming instead of helpful.
5. Take the Time To Discuss Your Family’s Concerns
Turning a blind eye to your family’s concerns doesn’t help anyone. Allow your family members to discuss feelings with you well before the big day. You may think that ignoring a problem will make it go away, but it can actually make things worse. In fact, according to marriage specialist Bonnie Maslin, Ph.D. “A mother who is given the chance to say ‘it kills me that your father is going to be there with his new wife,’ is the mother who is less likely to throw a glass of champagne in anger” (As quoted in Glamour).
6. Remember That Kindness Is the Best Medicine
When drama ensues, it’s often because someone is hurt. Approaching conflict with kindness and empathy can go a long way in avoiding family drama. Think through why and how someone might be hurt or upset before getting defensive. Even though this is your big day, family members are involved, and they care about what’s going on. When you feel your own emotions flaring, take a time-out, and excuse yourself from the situation.
7. Laugh in the Face of Danger! Ha ha ha!
When things start getting rocky, channel your inner Simba and laugh it off. A sense of humor can calm dangerous waters and prevent those around you from getting overly upset. Just remember to be strategic with jokes. Funny quips can quickly lighten a tough situation, but when used poorly, they can make you seem rude and uncaring.
8. Trust Your Instincts
No one knows the ins and outs of your family better than you, and no one knows your soon-to-be in-laws better than your partner. Trust your instincts. If you think that maybe Uncle Fester will be upset sitting next to Cousin Itt, seat him somewhere else. If you can think of three different people that are planning on walking you down the aisle, nix or keep all of them! The way you handle situations and talk to loved ones is dependent upon their personalities and your relationship to them. Trust yourself and navigate situations with mindfulness and care.
If I would have set a precedent before my wedding, maybe I could have avoided the night-long tiff in the corner. If my cousin would have spoken to her sister before the wedding and validated her feelings of neglect and hurt, maybe she could have prevented the terrible toast.
Weddings are a time to celebrate some of the absolute best things we experience in life: love, friendship, and family. Differing opinions and big personalities can be intimidating to manage on your big day, but by making mindful decisions and handling sticky situations with care and empathy, you can avoid trouble. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, so celebrate big with the ones you love!
And celebrating big is something we can definitely help you with! NOAH’S Event Venue is a customizable and spacious venue, perfect for hosting a beautiful wedding celebration with all the people that matter to you most!