Your Guide to Wedding-Related Sibling Squabbles

Identifying what is the cause of the tension between siblings after one gets engaged.

Things aren’t always rosy between siblings: even as adults, disagreements can arise and cause minor scrimmages. First, you need to narrow down why you’ve been fighting

Photo: Black & Hue Photography

Growing up with brothers and sisters keeps a young person’s life interesting. You share so many experiences with them – both the good and the bad. Of course, things aren’t always rosy between siblings: even as adults, disagreements can arise and cause minor scrimmages. However, what if it's your wedding that’s causing some tension between brothers and sisters? First thing is first: you need to narrow down why you’ve been fighting.

Here are some of the common reasons why siblings argue after one is engaged:

If your sibling doesn’t plan on marrying:

-   They might not believe in marriage – and they’re sad you don’t share that feeling. If you’re fighting with your brother or sister who is open about their plan to remain unmarried following your own engagement, there is a chance it has to do with your belief systems. Perhaps their disapproval of marriage is deeply ingrained and they aren’t sure why you don’t see it their way. Siblings are bound to have differences, and hopefully, your choice to enter into matrimony won’t affect them for long.

-   The focus on the wedding could bother them. If they don’t see a wedding as necessarily significant, it could feel like any and all talk about the event is overshadowing things that they do find important. There could be issues or joys in their life – or generally – that they feel are taking a backseat to your nuptials, and that doesn’t seem right to them.

If your sibling is also engaged:

-   It may feel like a competition. Even if the words “who will have the better wedding?” are never actually spoken, siblings who are engaged at the same time can sometimes feel that their respective big days are in direct competition with one another. Unfortunately, no matter how close you are, the tension can seemingly come out of no where in this particular situation.

-   Crossovers may occur – intentionally or unintentionally. If there are any aspects of the two weddings that are similar – or, worse, exactly the same – the tension and feelings of competition could increase. The same color palette, the same caterer, the same venue: these could all be cause for lower tolerance and higher rates of arguments.

If your sibling is not yet engaged:

-   Remember: it isn’t always as simple as “they’re jealous.” As with the other points, the “obvious” choice isn’t always correct. They could dislike your partner for reasons they have yet to reveal to you, they could be going through their own difficulties in their relationship that they aren’t quite ready to discuss, etc.

-   Though, sometimes, they are. This is common and should not be ignored or looked down upon. Feelings of jealousy, especially if they feel the desire to be engaged as well, are entirely valid. This is a difficult spot to be in – especially if you’d like them to be in your bridal party or be involved in some other way.

If your sibling is already married:

-   They may be sad their wedding is over. Many adults will not admit to feeling this way, mostly because they know it will be dismissed with a simple, “you’ve had your day, let your brother have his!” If this is the case, they may try to impose their own tastes and preferences in order to feel that they’ve played a significant role – or they’ll be withdrawn and quiet throughout the planning process.

-   They may think more thought/time/money is going into your day. Even if it isn’t true, there’s a chance they may be perceiving that you’re being given more help, or that you’re creating a “better” day than their own. Since they cannot “one-up” you in the wedding category, they may accuse you of stealing their ideas or trying to copy them. 

If your sibling is going through a break up, separated, or divorced:

-   Being so close to a relationship may hurt. Misery loves company, but it doesn’t feel as warm toward happiness. They may be lashing out and projecting their own anger or grief onto you and your impending vow exchange. This is sometimes due to the fact that they don’t want to deal with their understandably fragile feelings.

-   They don’t want you to go through what they did. They may perceive you to be going down a similar path – whether that may be true or not. Most of the time, this is an older sibling that does not want you to experience the same kind of heartache they feel now, and they may be frustrated that you cannot “see the signs” that they may have experienced in their own relationship.

Read about how to handle uncomfortable holiday dinner conversations, find out how to choose your bridal party, and discover how to handle wedding-day disappointment.

Opening photo by Elisabeth Millay Photography