Although we know you love all of your guests, when you bring your entire family and friends from different stages of your life into one room, drama is nearly inevitable. At weddings of all sizes and budgets, a few types of guests always seem to show up: the drunk aunt, the screaming child, and the groomsman who won’t give up the microphone, just to name a few.
Whether you already know these types of guests will attend or are surprised by their behavior on the big day, there are ways to gracefully deal with uncomfortable situations. Wedding planners Charley Izabella King of Bluebell Events and Alex Alexander of Alex Events have truly seen it all, and offered their expertise when it comes to managing difficult guests. Here are 7 of the most challenging – yet common – wedding guests and how to deal with them.
1. The Drunk Guest
Your friends and family (especially the wedding party) are your allies in dealing with guests who get a little too familiar with the bar. King says she usually finds the person he or she came with and enlists their help in limiting their intake, and also notifies the bartender and banquet captain of any guests to keep an eye on. “If they get particularly rowdy, I would ask them to leave,” King shares.
If you know in advance this guest will be a problem, let your wedding planner know, so she can be on the lookout for potential issues and shield you from the drama. There’s also a little trick that can help slow their imbibing. “We have actually provided a watered-down bottle of the preferred liquor just for pouring drinks for that person,” Alexander reveals.
2. The Overbearing Mother
Gently but firmly set boundaries during the wedding planning. Alexander suggests saying something like, “It is so lovely of you to want to pay for and surprise me with the flowers, but I have always looked forward to planning my wedding and especially the flowers! Having you there with me as I choose the look of the wedding means so much to me. Thank you!”
You can also task mom with a job you are willing to give up, such as the invitations, so she feels included and useful without becoming more involved than you’d like. Your planner can also be an ally in managing and preventing hurt feelings, but only if you tell her about difficult family situations as soon as you begin planning. “We have diverted many a situation by being fully aware of peoples’ feelings,” King says, “and being comforting to them by understanding the situation and helping to resolve it.”
3. The Badly Behaved Child
Head off any restless, bored kids by arranging for childcare during the wedding. Kids will be much happier enjoying food, games, and videos while the adults celebrate on their own. If you’re concerned about offending the parents, “use the ‘limited capacity for dinner’ excuse for kids being exiled to a separate area or to one of the parents’ guest suites,” Alexander suggests.
4. The Bitter Unmarried or Divorced Friend
If your friend has just filed for divorce or your sister is notorious for complaining about her single status, have a conversation with them before the big day expressing your understanding of their sadness, bitterness, frustration, or disappointment, and allow them to skip the celebration. “Let them know that although you would miss them at the wedding, you don’t want them to be in an uncomfortable situation,” Alexander says. A bridesmaid, groomsman, or wedding planner can pull them aside if they start acting up during the wedding and explain that their behavior is distressing to the bride.
5. The Guest Who Doesn’t Know Anyone Else There
It can be awkward to attend a wedding when the only person you know is the bride, so seat your guest at a fun table and ask your friends to make him or her feel welcome. “There is usually a great ‘wild and single’ group at every wedding and I have found they can be counted on to help include anyone and everyone!” Alexander reveals.
6. The Bad Toaster
Is there anything that kills the mood faster than a rambling, unfunny toast? “There comes a point in the speech, sometimes, when you just have to take the mic and say ‘put your hands together for our best man’ and move on to save him from embarrassing himself further,” King says. Or, the DJ can start playing music over the toast (“and feel free to blame the planner,” Alexander shares). If all else fails, “suffer through with patient dignity,” advises Alexander.
7. The Parents Who Don’t Get Along
This is a time for diplomacy. Tell your parents that you don’t expect them to be best friends, but ask that they participate in the planning and wedding with grace. Remind them, too, that holidays, births, and other milestones are the only times they will need to interact in the future. “Trying to force a friendship and/or reprimanding them for not getting along will not be productive,” Alexander says. The good news is that most people will be on their best behavior on the day of the event.
The bottom line: It's impossible to make everyone happy. Either learn to live with difficult guests, or enlist your friends and wedding planner to intervene – and then let it go. “You are responsible for your happiness, so don't allow any one person to be so important that they ruin your day,” Alexander says.
Opening photo by Christine Bentley Photography