Wedding Drama: Handling Difficult Family Members

Wedding Drama: Handling Difficult Family Members

You’ve been dreaming of this day ever since you were a little girl playing with Barbies. I’m talking about your wedding day! You’ve got it all figured out, except there’s one problem. Your extremely difficult family who forgets that it’s YOUR special day rather than their own.

Seating arrangements, the venue, pictures, who is doing/saying what, yada yada yada…  there is always something to be said!


I spoke with Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. She puts it simply, “If you’re grown up enough to get married, you’re grown up enough to take charge and begin to handle your parents differently.”

It seems simple enough, but I’m sure many people out there can understand how it’s much easier said than done.

If you grew up in a broken home, sometimes having your mother and father in the same room would be like WWII. 

“Identify family members or friends who might be problems, so you can diffuse them beforehand,” Tessina suggests. “If your parents are fighting, and you want them both at the  wedding, give them a choice: “If you promise not to fight around me or the wedding, I’d love to have you be part of it.  But, if you create problems, you’ll have to drop out.” Then stick to it.” She adds, “Arrange before hand to have the offending parent or parents ejected by security staff or family members if they don’t behave.”

I had someone close to me go through this situation, their family members were so stubborn that they didn’t want to participate in a full family photo. Yes you read that right. What do you do if you’re stuck in the same boat or close to it?

“This is your wedding. Don’t allow family members to be difficult,” Tessina tells us. “Families are supposed to support you, not make things more difficult, so tell them beforehand that they’re expected to dress appropriately, be in the photos they’re asked to be in, and generally behave well.  Be willing to let go of any family members, including parents, who show signs of unreliability or who are uncooperative. ”


“Unrealistic expectations are a pitfall, and the biggest problems are: money differences, family issues and guest problems. To reduce the stress of a wedding, discuss beforehand with your spouse what you do and do not want,” she advises. “Once you are clear with each other, then discuss with other family members who may be involved — especially if they are covering the costs. Have this discussion before making any decisions about how the wedding will look, where it will be, and who will be there. You have a lot of options, so don’t let other people’s expectations add to the expense, the complications, and the stress. While you want your wedding to be beautiful and memorable, a simpler event might be more enjoyable than a big, complicated affair. Identify extended family members or friends who might be problems, so you can diffuse them beforehand.”

How did you get around family drama while planning your big day?

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