How to Navigate Family Drama While Wedding Planning


Your wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your entire life. But if you’re stuck in the middle of family dramas, it can quickly become stressful and frustrating!

From divorced parents to demanding guests, navigating your way through family politics can definitely put a dampener on your celebrations. And in our opinion, the best way to diffuse these situations is by planning ahead.

Keep reading as we share our top tips on how to navigate family dramas during the wedding planning process – leaving you to enjoy your special day without the stress!

Photo by Hudson Nichols

Family Drama: Tension Between Guests

Dealing with tension between family members can be seriously tough. Whether it’s due to a nasty divorce or stubborn family feud, the last thing you want to be dealing with on your wedding day is awkwardness or aggression.

Although it can be tricky terrain to navigate, it’s important to remember that you’re not responsible for the behaviour of your family. Instead, your family will need to think about the bigger picture and put your feelings first.

If you’re stuck in the middle of some unwanted family drama, consider taking these steps:

  • Communication is key! While it might feel awkward, an upfront conversation is often the best way to discuss behaviour expectations before the wedding. You can broach the subject delicately by saying something like: “I know there’s some tension between you and X, but this is my wedding day and I would really appreciate it if you could put your feelings aside and be civil. I’m really looking forward to the day and can’t wait to celebrate with you!”.
  • If a family member is continuing to complain or make you feel guilty about inviting a certain person, you may have to offer an ultimatum. You can say something firm but fair, such as: “I can see this is bringing up some uncomfortable feelings for you. If you can’t put those feelings aside and would prefer not to attend, I completely understand.” This will either prompt your family member to get their behaviour back into line – or, decline your invitation (in which case, did you really want them joining you on the day anyway?).
Photo by Lauren Fair
  • If you’re planning a sit-down reception, opt for a designated seating chart instead of letting guests choose their own place. Be sure to seat any estranged guests away from each other to avoid any awkwardness over dinner.
  • Don’t be afraid to communicate any family issues to your key wedding vendors too, particularly your wedding planner. Trust us – they’ve seen it all before, and they’ll be able to help you diffuse any tense situations on the day. You might also want to give your photographer a heads-up by providing a specific shot-list for family photos. This will ensure they know exactly who to group together, and who to keep apart! 
Photo by Feather & Birch Wedding Co

Family Drama: Overstepping Boundaries

Wedding advice from loved ones is an unavoidable part of the planning process – but there’s a fine line between friendly suggestions, and unreasonable requests. If your family members are being overly critical of your wedding plans, it’s time to set some boundaries:

  • When it feels like your loved ones are meddling in your wedding plans, it often boils down to their desire to feel included. Are there any small wedding planning tasks you can delegate, like DIY crafting, sourcing quotes or running errands? Involving your family in other areas of the wedding planning process will not only help them feel special, but leave you to focus on the important stuff!
  • If your family members continue to offer their unwanted opinions, try changing the topic with a simple statement like “Thanks for your suggestion! I’ll keep that in mind.” If this doesn’t work, you may need to try something firmer, like “I really value your opinion, but we actually have everything covered. I’d appreciate it if you could accept our decisions for the day.
  • If parents or family members are helping out financially, it’s always best to get clear on their expectations upfront before accepting any money. Can you all agree on a certain portion of the guest list, and how much input they’ll have in your decisions? If not – you might want to consider whether their financial assistance is going to be worth the additional stress.
Photo by Wendy Laurel

Family Drama: Guest List Rules

The guest list can be a delicate topic for any wedding, especially when it comes to kids and plus ones. It’s important not to feel pressured (this is your day, and it’s totally your prerogative who joins you!), but you should prepare yourself for some tricky questions just in case. Here are our suggestions for navigating guest list awkwardness:

  • Make sure you address your wedding invitations correctly to set the right expectations upfront. Avoid any generic wording like “The Daltons” or “The Smith Family”, and instead address the exact invitees. Don’t leave anything up for interpretation!
  • Setting expectations for plus ones can also be done tactfully through your wedding website. A simple statement like: “Due to limited venue capacity, we are regrettably unable to extend invitations for additional plus ones. Thank you for your understanding – we can’t wait to celebrate with you!” is more than enough.
Photo by Aaron & Jillian Photography

Focus On What Matters

Although family dramas can be stressful to deal with, you should never let it influence your happiness on the day. By setting the right boundaries and managing expectations, you guys can step back and actually focus on what this day is all about: getting married! So enjoy your love bubble and don’t stress about the things you can’t control – as long as you and your partner tie the knot, nothing else really matters.