Tactics to Avoid Wedding Guest Drama – Dealing with Divorced Parents, Old Feuds, and More

No family is perfect. Some families are a little more hectic than others – sometimes it’s hard to avoid wedding guest drama. Divorced parents, old feuds, and known disruptors are just part of the modern family. We are supposed to put all that residual unhappiness aside for a wedding. But weddings are emotional times and sometimes emotions other than joy bubble to the surface. So how can you plan your wedding to minimize wedding guest turmoil or stress while joining two colorful families? Here are a few tricks for the happy couple and helpful bridal party members to keep up their sleeves.

Strategic Seating Charts

Clever planning of seating charts is the single most important part of smoothing over touchy feelings and keeping feuds from even starting to happen. It’s simple to say “don’t seat people together who don’t like each other”, but it’s a little more complex to plan. If possible, you want to seat disputing family members so they can’t see or hear each other as well. Let them each have an essentially separate experience of the wedding.

Ceremony Seating

Seating at the ceremony is based on side, row, and distance from the aisle. It’s relatively easy to create seating so most bad-pairings are far from each other in different rows and row-depth locations. But what about divorced parents? Place parents who both want to be at the front at least five chairs away from each other.

Reception Seating

At the reception, get creative with who you seat at each table. Remember friend groups and family groups are normally happiest together, but not always. For divorced parents, let each parent host their own table. And face them away from each other, preferably at opposite ends of the reception hall. Do the same for feuding family members.

If you have an odd number of people at tables, your next great trick is pairing personality types for members of both now-blended families. Introduce family members of the bride and groom who you know would enjoy each other’s company.

The Divorced-Parent Bridal Party

Building the bridal party, traditions become complicated when parents are divorced and hostile. First, let the bride choose who she truly wants to walk her down the aisle. From there, mix-and-match the bridal party. Make use of your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen to re-partner who walks down the aisle arm-in-arm.

Toasts in Bridal Party Order

Once the bridal party is set in stone, use this to indicate who has the option to give a toast. Then, allow additional family members who want to toast to do so. By sticking with the bridal party order, as close to tradition as possible, you can more easily stand firm against objections to who “gets to go first”.

Stick to wine, champagne, and perhaps beer. Do not serve hard liquor or host a bar if you know fights will be narrowly avoided. Alcohol is known to awaken suppressed resentment. As such, it’s best to keep it out of reach of those making speeches.

Have the Maid of Honor or Best Man proofread the toasts to make sure there’s nothing that will cause a fight in the content.

Delegate Guest Management

Now that you’ve enacted the basic feud-avoidance strategy, talk to your bridal party (bridesmaids and groomsmen) along with your most cool-headed and trustworthy family members about delegating guest management. Work together to steer disagreeable guests away from each other and prevent the possibility of a wedding fight. With teamwork, you can keep your guests who are likely to fight too distracted and having too good a time to seek out conflict. Kids can also provide their share of unwanted drama, so if you plan on having kids at your wedding, put a close friend in charge of keeping them out of the drama.

Be Prepared with Feud-Diffusement  Tricks

Finally, be prepared to step in if a fight starts brewing. In partnership with bridal party and recruited family members, keep an eye out for when divorced couples start talking and the tone becomes unpleasant. Distract them with your cousin’s new baby, or invite them to dance a shared favorite song on the dance floor. A saintly bridesmaid or groomsman might even come up with a ‘need for help’ from someone about to fight to diffuse the situation.

Weddings are supposed to be a time of joy, and they can be with the right preparation and teamwork. Even if each family has a few members who might not like to share an event, the wedding is a time for everyone to enjoy themselves. You can make that happen by keeping those feuding family members separate and enjoying themselves too much to fight.

When it feels like too much, and you need someone in your corner to advocate to you, Milton Ridge offers consulting and wedding planning services. We’ve seen it all. Our planners, officiants and helpful staff will find creative solutions to make sure your day is as drama-free as it should be. Contact us here to find out more.