Worried Your Family Will Embarrass You at Your Wedding? Read This

Here's what to do if you have a family member who likes to take things a little too far.
by Jessica Zaleski

The good news is, you’re getting married and loved ones from every circle of your life will likely be in attendance. (Pretty cool, right?) The bad news is, this may be causing tons of anxiety for you if your family feels especially dysfunctional or over-the-top. (Psst—everyone’s family is dysfunctional in its own way, we promise. Some may just be a little more so than others.)

Know the difference between "quirky" and "toxic."

If you’re worried about your family embarrassing you at your wedding, you certainly wouldn’t be the first—but it’s important to identify the difference between “quirky” family members and ones who could actually pose a legitimate problem on your wedding day.

“There’s a huge difference between zany relatives who love you, who may say or do something cringe-worthy, and ones who are toxic and destructive,” says Diane Peters Mayer, MSW, psychotherapist and author of Overcoming School Anxiety. “Many parents, siblings and other relatives [can be] intrusive, insensitive, abusive, and jealous and can try to ruin a wedding.”

We hope that doesn’t sound like any of your family members. But if you're afraid that your family's behavior may go beyond just a tiny, embarrassing quip in a toast, the first step is to talk with your partner and discuss anyone in particular who you feel is a loose cannon on either side. 

Sit down before the wedding. 

When you decide who really worries you, you should schedule a chat with that family member prior to the wedding, according to Mayer. She suggests writing down what you want to say to them and bringing it with you as a “road map” in case you get upset. 

Sounds kind of nerve-racking, right? Well, it’s important to stay calm—try taking deep breaths—no matter what kind of person you’re dealing with. 

Mayer recommends using the word “I” when telling your relative what’s bothering you—and although they might get defensive, you shouldn’t back down, she says. “You want them at the wedding and you should tell them that,” she says. “Thank them for respecting your feelings, even if it doesn’t seem like they want to.” 

Remember it'll all work out for the best. 

You love them despite their flaws—which is why you want them at your wedding in the first place—but make sure your critiques are coming from an actual place of concern, rather than simply being nitpicky (if you are, you might risk being labeled a bridezilla for preferring your sister doesn’t have too many tequila-sodas at your reception). Know what’s worth bringing up for the sake of your wedding day happiness, and what’s really, really not. 

Something like family drama should never mar the happiness of your day—and sometimes you can’t disinvite someone, no matter how much you may want to—so remember this is for the best, no matter what. 

As for the quirky family members you adore, but worry will make non-funny jokes when it’s their turn on the mic? Embrace how silly, fun and nontraditional your wedding could be because of them—but if you’re still worried about them going too far, maybe be strategic about who gets to make a speech (and find a de-stressing technique you love).

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