How To Handle Family Wedding Drama

Q. Hi Jordan,

I have been following your blog for some time and I love it.

I am getting married in a few weeks and all of a sudden there is a circus of family drama coming out of nowhere.  My sisters-in-law-to-be want to run the show and are stamping their feet if they don’t get their way. It’s unbelievable. My fiance is having a hard time because he doesn’t want to upset or disrespect them, but he knows they’re being completely out of line.

How do you handle family wedding drama?! Help!

– Lauren

A. Hey Lauren!

First, congrats on your wedding! And oh, goodness, I’m so sorry about the drama – but if it makes you feel any better, I have yet to hear about a wedding that hasn’t involved a family tussle of some sort.

I had some drama surrounding my wedding that actually resulted in a couple of family members no longer speaking to me (and we’re going on three years now) because the fact that we chose to have our wedding in Maine meant that a fairly distant elderly relative whom I’d only met a handful of times wouldn’t be able to attend (seriously; it was so bizarre). So I hear ya.

Something about weddings just ratchets up the emotion level to Crazytown…but the good news is that the drama is almost always coming from a place of love (they want the wedding to be perfect and special, and want to feel like an important person in your life). And if it’s jealousy that’s the issue here…well, that’s not your fault, but it can help to understand where their feelings are coming from. Maybe your sisters-in-law are jealous that you’re “taking their brother away from them,” in which case there are things you can do to assure them that that’s not the case (like inviting them over more often).

Most importantly: remember that this is YOUR wedding (and your fiance’s)…not theirs. But because you don’t want to create tons of tension that may last long beyond the vows, I’d give smoothing things over a shot before confronting them directly. And to do this, I’d suggest keeping them distracted. Talk to each one individually, and tell her that you think that she’s sooo great at ___ (a task or two that you don’t mind handing over, like choosing the favors or following up with bridesmaids about fittings) that you were wondering if she wouldn’t mind being in charge of it. Be specific about what you’d like her to handle, and let her know what a huge help she’s being by taking care of this aspect of the wedding, and she’ll feel like she’s participating without horning in on stuff you don’t want her to be a part of.

If that doesn’t work, you’re fully within your rights to take them aside (individually) and gently (but firmly) tell them that while you’re excited that they’ll be a big part of your day, it’s important to you that your wedding represent you as a couple and that you want to make most of the big decisions yourself. And then keep wedding chatter to a minimum when you’re around them; the fewer chances they have to bring up the Big Event, the better.

And finally, remember to take some time in the last few weeks before you get married to shut off the stress and to just spend time with your fiance – it’s the love between you that should be the focal point, and that can be hard to remember when there’s so much noise and drama swirling around you. So pick up a bottle of wine and takeout, and spend a night talking about anything but the wedding.

Best of luck to you!



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