When it comes to wedding-planning, there’s one major thing that may be wearing on you: how in the world do you avoid family drama at your wedding? Couple any bad-blood or lingering family issues with the fact that weddings are a highly emotional time, and you have a quick-and-easy recipe for some serious drama. If it were someone else’s wedding, we’d tell you to kick back with some popcorn and enjoy the show...but when it’s your big day in jeopardy, you want to ensure you do everything you can to avoid Real Housewives table-flipping at your reception. Today, then, we’re offering up our top three tips for avoiding family drama at your wedding. Read on and get ready for smooth sailing, sans-blowups and hurt feelings.


1. Hire a wedding planner.


This is, by far, the best piece of advice we can offer for anyone looking to avoid family drama on their big day. Wedding planners are absolute pros when it comes to navigating tricky family tension and sour relationships. They're great at being honest and open with family members who need it, without causing any hurt feelings. Plus, they're particularly pro at framing things in a way that takes the blame and responsibility off of you (whew). Avoiding family drama at your wedding is all about being proactive: you don't want to wait until the day-of to navigate that tricky relationship between your cousin and your bridesmaid. This is where a wedding planner comes in—by being there with you from the beginning of the planing process, a pro can help prepare for (and head off) any areas of potential drama. Plus, a wedding planner will be there to deal with any unexpected drama that arises on the day of, without having to rope you in or overwhelm you with the details. Instead, a great wedding planner will take the reigns and put out fires herself, while you and your spouse celebrate.


2. Limit the number of cooks in the kitchen.


When you first get engaged, it's super tempting to let everyone (and their moms) in on the planning process. You want to share your color palette ideas with your bridesmaids and your wedding-gown wishlist with your soon-to-be sister-in-law and your floral inspiration with your stepmom....but, the more people you let in on the planning process, the more opinions and unsolicited feedback you'll have to field down the road. Allowing people in on the planning process also tends to give them a false sense of entitlement that can come back to bite you later. Rather than asking your uncle if he'd be ok sitting next to his estranged wife (and opening the floodgates for him to rant at you or tell you exactly where he'd like to be seated), just sit him where you and your wedding planner think is best without soliciting his opinion beforehand.

3. Be strategic with seating.


Speaking of who's going to sit where, your seating chart is perhaps your greatest weapon for warding off unwanted family wedding drama. A thoughtfully executed seating chart can ensure a seamless, stress-free night—while a poorly done seating chart can have your prone-to-drama guests flying off the hinges faster than you can say I Do. Work closely with your wedding planner as you map out your seating chart, and be sure you take sour relationships and lingering family issues into account when deciding who goes where. (Psst...check out our top tips for easily building a seating chart here.)


4. Honesty is always the best policy.

When in doubt, be honest with your family (or have your wedding planner be honest with your family on your behalf—#noshame). This is your big day—you're allowed to speak your mind and let family members know when they're being too demanding, crazy-dramatic, or a little bit of both. There's always a way to be honest without hurting feelings—as long as you're clear about your needs (and graceful in the process), things should work out for the best. If you choose to ignore your frustrations with a family member's behavior—rather than clearly communicate that frustration to your family member ahead of time—chances are that same irritating behavior will continue on your big day and possibly even disrupt your celebration. It's always best to have that all-important chat ahead of time, rather than a blow-up during cocktail hour.

Photo courtesy Patrick Moyer