Weddings should be a time when two families come together to celebrate their merging, and the two people whose love is making it all possible. Sounds great, except when the families in question fight worse than the Hatfields and McCoys. You don’t want to spend your wedding day in a game of shuttle diplomacy, trying to keep two sets of in-laws from killing each other. Here are some steps you can both take to ensure the family feud doesn’t turn your wedding into a cage fight.
Weed Out The Wing-Nuts
Nobody enjoys paring down the invite list, but if your uber-right-wing uncle is going to start a small-scale war with your fiancé’s liberal cousin, remember that you don’t need either one at the ceremony. Yeah, family is important, but by weeding out the wing-nuts, you’re cutting down on the possibility of an argument that could explode right in the middle of the ceremony. That wouldn’t be great for family feeling either.
Warn the Day-Of Coordinator
Wedding coordinators have seen far more trainwrecks than you think. Their number one job is making sure your day runs as smoothly as possible (their number two job is showing the world what their job is like by way of Hollywood movies starring Jennifer Lopez.) Along with making sure the groomsmen are at the right place at the right time and keeping an eye out for the DJ (where is that guy?!) they can manage specific family members who are more likely than not to hurl an insult or challenge your mom to a dance-fight. They’ll stop any problem before it starts — that’s how they make their tips.
Keep Them Separated
While some wedding traditions don’t age as well as others, one that is perfect for two warring families is keeping the bride and groom’s fams separate. Bride on the left, groom on the right — or vice-versa depending on where you’re standing. Remind your day-of coordinator or your usher(s) that your dad is aching to strangle your bride’s uncle and the point will be driven home pretty easily. Plus, slipping a twenty into the pocket of your 10-year-old usher nephew couldn’t hurt. Twenty dollars translates to roughly $5,000 to a pre-teen: he’ll take care of you.
Her Aunt Linda wants lobster and your parents keeping saying they’ll “frankly pass away” without beef. Ok, so here’s where you compromise. How about a surf n’ turf menu where guests can choose either beef or lobster?! Everyone wins. At the same time, keep in mind this is your special day, so if you guys want chicken pot pies and only chicken pot pies, order the damn pot pies. Aunt Linda’s allergic to shellfish anyway.
Get Them Drunk—But Not Wasted
Is there any liquid in the universe more helpful than booze? No. Ok, maybe water. One of the reasons it’s smart to hire a bartender (as opposed to asking your drunk cousin to pour shots) is because they have the power to cut people off. Alcohol is a wonderful way to get people talking and happy and can mitigate a family feud in just one cup.
However, the moment you add too many drinks to the mix, that feud can escalate to an all-out war. Make sure your bartender knows what he or she is doing: they can keep an eye out for mean ol’ Uncle Al and make sure he has just enough vodka to bring up his “flat earth” theory, but not so much he starts calling Cousin Stan a “dirty sonofabitch.”
Prepare An Emergency Diversion
Warning: This last step should only be used in the most extreme cases. If you’ve done everything you can to stop the familial skirmish from turning your wedding into a battlefield, it’s time for the emergency diversion.
Pay off a friend, coworker, or willing cousin to draw every bit of attention away from the shouting match and place it directly on themselves. Whether it’s a fake attack of appendicitis or a mid-wedding proposal, this diversion needs to stop any argument dead in its tracks and stun your family and friends into silence.