Tough Conversations to Have with Your Wedding Party

Planning a wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life, but there are plenty of conflicts that can arise when you’re juggling a wedding party, parents, and in-laws with differing opinions. Wedding pros share their strategies for tackling tough conversations, as well as what you can do to avoid causing unnecessary stress.

Common Wedding Party Conflicts (That Can Happen to Anyone)

Because your wedding may be the first you’ve ever planned, you may not know some of the triggers that can often cause tension or disagreements. Knowing what these factors are can help you work around them and take preventative measures to stop problems before they ever have a chance to start. Most often, attire, responsibilities, and level of commitment are some of the points of contention.

Tommy Waters of The Renaissance says, “I've seen conflict begin when a bride thinks that her maid of honor or matron of honor is not fulfilling their roles adequately. Most of the time, I have noticed that this conflict happens when the role has not been defined thoroughly by the couple, so simply chatting about the role you want them to play when asked to participate will nix any issues that may arise later.”

Photo by  Kay Kroshus

Photo by Kay Kroshus

How to Approach a Tricky Situation

Once you’ve identified the issue, the hardest part is generally knowing how to approach the conversation. Whether you have a mother-in-law overstepping her boundaries or a lazy or combative wedding party member, every problem should be dealt with in-person to avoid miscommunication.

Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group says, “Certain conversations with your wedding party need to be handled delicately, especially when it’s the case of a destination wedding. It’s likely that your friend has already committed a significant amount of time and money to your celebration, so it’s important to acknowledge your appreciation first, and then tackle the hard portion of the conversation.

Even if you’d prefer to avoid confrontation altogether, Keith Phillips of Classic Photographers recommends keeping it cool-tempered and kind. “Keep in mind how you would feel if you were on the other side of the conversation.” 

Oleta Collins of Flourishing Art agrees on keeping it safe, saying, “For example, an easy way to address adding a plus one of a wedding party member that you aren’t too fond of is to be honest with your budget expectations and overall intimacy of the event. If you have limited seating at your head table, explain this as best you can without going into too much detail. Most wedding party members will understand!”

Photo by  Kay Kroshus

Photo by Kay Kroshus

Tips for Avoiding Conflict

You may even come across a conversation that doesn’t necessarily require a serious discussion. These are few and far between, yes, but some things are better off unsaid for the sake of your sanity. Likewise, you may not deal with confrontation well, and would like to remove the possibility altogether.

Waters notes that this may come down to choosing your wedding party wisely from the get-go. “Take into consideration who is in, how they get along with other folks in the wedding party, and if there is past drama involved.” Carefully selecting wedding party members that will treat your big day with respect and offer their help when it’s needed is a great way to ensure your planning process goes off without a hitch.

If you have a particular person in your wedding party that may not make for the smoothest experience, Avey advises designating a few people to handle certain situations (even if they aren’t necessarily in the wedding party). “Depending on their relationship with the offender, a negative situation can oftentimes be diffused before it gets to a point of you needing to intervene. If you’re having a lot of conflict with a particular wedding party member, determine if these are things that you can easily get over, or if it’s something that’s heavily impacting your planning process and ultimately, the vision of your big day. Remember, it’s your wedding and the most important thing is your happiness. It may be difficult to address, but the weight you’ll feel lifted off your shoulders afterwards is oftentimes worth it.”

While it may not be the most comfortable issue to tackle, understand that your comfort on your wedding day matters most. Having these tough talks may be awkward at first, but if they alleviate any potential tension for you on your big day, they are conversations worth having!


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.