When it comes to selecting wedding party members, many couples adopt a mindset of “the more, the merrier.” And while a large group may make for some fun memories, it also involves managing more personalities, schedules, and opinions. While planning a wedding, you want to surround yourself with encouraging, supportive, and enthusiastic loved ones. There’s simply no room for people who bring you down!
But if you’re already in the depths of wedding party drama, you may be ready to call it quits and run off to elope somewhere far away. This experience should be filled with joy and excitement, not negativity and tension.
The Soulful Wedding’s Maureen Cotton affirms that communication is essential for a successful planning journey with loved ones. “You can’t forget to listen,” she states. “This is a two-way street, and people are still living their lives even if wedding planning is your number one priority. Don’t forget to be a friend.”
Follow these tips to navigate difficult wedding party issues with grace, so you can enjoy wedding planning without burning any bridges in the process.
There are few things more frustrating than a wedding party member who simply doesn’t care to pitch in. After all, most people know that accepting their role will involve helping with wedding plans.
If you’re dealing with loved ones who are less than supportive, consider taking this sage advice from Meadows Event Center’s Patricha Pike: “Give them something that makes them feel helpful. Ask their opinions about small things, like do you like the sign here or there? Once they are more engaged, everyone seems to relax more.”
And if that doesn’t work? Jordan Xu of Emily Jordan Events recommends delegating the follow-ups to someone else: “If certain wedding party members are unenthusiastic or unhelpful, I suggest picking another wedding party member to help you check in on them and attempt to boost their enthusiasm. Ask your honor attendant or another wedding party member to help you check in with them. This way, it won’t seem like you are constantly nagging them.”
Resolving Inter-Party Conflicts
In a perfect world, all of your wedding party members would be besties as they are with you. However, that simply isn’t the case for some couples. Whether there’s a history of tension or an issue arises during the planning process, you and your partner will need to take precautions to prevent drama from spilling over on your well-laid wedding plans.
Shauna Cooney of Shauna and Jordon Photography recommends couples “[p]lan ahead and keep vendors informed. From a logistics standpoint, letting your vendors (planning, photo, and video) know in advance will allow them to ensure that they keep any conflicting members apart as much as possible.”
Cooney adds: “From there, I would also recommend sitting down with each member personally to talk about the day and what you hope from them. If they truly love you (as they should if they’re in your bridal party), they should be more than willing to put your needs above their own opinions for your wedding day.”
Addressing Budgetary Concerns
Accepting a role in someone’s wedding party isn’t just time-consuming; it also requires a financial commitment that may or may not be doable for friends and family members. Be mindful of your loved ones’ budget, help them where you can, and give them grace if they have to pass on certain things.
“We have seen couples personally assist in the purchasing of wedding wardrobe, hair and makeup, or even celebrations like the bachelor/bachelorette parties,” Cooney shares. “However, if that isn’t financially possible, I would recommend considering keeping as many of the events local as possible, as travel can add up.”
Once again, communication is the best practice when navigating sensitive topics like money. Xu says as much, recommending couples to “have a conversation with them and explain which activities are most important for them to be at. While you want to celebrate with them at each step of the way, it is most important for them to stand with you at your wedding, so let them know it is ok if that is the one activity they focus on attending instead of every shower and out of town weekend event.”
Letting Go of Baggage
Unfortunately, things don’t always work out with wedding party members. All of the heart-to-heart discussions and support can only go so far, so if you find yourself in a sticky situation, it may be best to let your loved one off the hook.
“At the end of the day, you chose this person to stand with you on your wedding day because they are important to you,” Xu reminds. “Maintaining the relationship should be a top priority when asking them to no longer be a member of the wedding party.”
Xu continues: “Try to have this conversation either in person, over video chat, or as a last resort, over the phone. Be sure to remain calm during the conversation and express the reasons why you love having them as a friend (or family member). Explain the behavior that has frustrated you, and let them know you don’t think this is the best fit for them. You can let them know you would still love for them to celebrate with you, but understand if they choose not to attend. Explain that this has been difficult for you, and you want to make sure your relationship is intact once the wedding is over and therefore have had to make this difficult decision.”
Having a wedding party can make planning simpler and surround you with love on your journey to the aisle, but it’s not for everyone. As Cotton explains, “It’s not a good fit for every personality to have a big group around them when they’re getting ready. For some, it adds to the stress. For others, it’s a highlight of the day. So many of these issues can be avoided at the start when a couple takes the time to choose a path that suits their personalities and goals.”
So if you’re just starting out and worry about unnecessary drama within your inner circle, it may be best to play it safe and forego a wedding party altogether. Otherwise, accept that it will be an exercise of managing personalities that will be well worth it when you get to walk down the aisle and stand with your nearest and dearest!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.
We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.