How to Deal With Difficult Wedding Guests Up to & On the Day

Finally, the big day has come and you are ready to walk down the aisle. But what about those few people you weren’t really sure about inviting to the wedding? Whether it’s obnoxious, drunk or inappropriate guests, you really need to have a game plan as to how to deal with them before it all kicks off!

Knowing who your guests are & how they’ll behave along with crowd control is the best way not to have to become physical with them at your wedding, as are uninvites. Anticipating & preventing unwanted behavior is vital as is getting the right kind of help from a good MC, catering company & venue.

Here are the top ways you can make sure there aren’t any regrets about your wedding guest list.

Before the big day

Dealing with problem guests and those who may intentionally or unconsciously put a damper on your special day begins with the guest list. You need to put all your guests into a certain category and pay particular attention to the type of guests listed below:

Problem guests to avoid

The lightweight

How they’ll ruin your day

These are the classic bad quest, they have too much to drink and end up causing a scene. Either it’s the drunk heckler during speeches, the inappropriate uncle chatting up your friends or the puking teenager who got access to the table wine.

How to deal with them

There are two approaches here, prevention and reaction. Prevention includes identifying likely over-indulges and placing them far away from your top table in the seating plan as well as seating other guests who can set the right tone at their table. Also consider limiting the source of alcohol at the wedding, more on this later on.

Making sure that you have plenty of food, especially dishes which line the stomach, can help slow the onset of drunkenness. Consider offering lots of water and soft drinks if your wedding day turns out to be a scorcher. Also, consider sticking to beer or wine rather than opening up the top shelf of the beer and encouraging people to mix drinks.

Reaction involves having a plan to get people out if they become too disruptive or ill from alcohol. venue staff members trusted friends and even your own MC can be great helpers in removing this type of guest quickly. More on this later!

The black cloud

How they’ll ruin your day

These people are those who are against marriage, jealous of your happiness or just resentful over a recent divorce. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to keep their misery to themselves and may start uncontrollably bad-mouthing the idea from your engagement right through to the wedding day.

How to deal with them

The two best techniques to deal with these misery-guts is either to ignore them or cross them off the list entirely.

We all have those friends who just can’t take joy in the joy of others, a sort of reverse schadenfreude. So, if you have to associate yourself with such friends or family members, just take everything with a pinch of salt and don’t let them chip away at your own happiness.

If you are able, just don’t invite them to your wedding. Especially someone who has had a very bad divorce and is prone to drinking and getting upset about it. It will just be better for both of you not to have to deal with that situation on your special day.

The petulant child

How they’ll ruin your day

These are nieces, nephews or other ankle bitters whose parents will want to bring to your wedding. Either they will scream their heads off at the worse possible moment in the ceremony, or they will get bored and start making mischief.

How to deal with them

There are two main ways to deal with this type of guest that I can think of, my sister took the first approach and one of my aunts the second. Embrace it or replace it!

By embracing I mean make your wedding as kid-friendly as you can. Get a sitter for the more solemn parts of the ceremony, perhaps just an adult or older child to watch the younger ones for the crucial hour. Also, make the wedding fun with games, activities and special areas for kids to get all their energy out. This way they will become a joy rather than a distraction.

Alternatively, you can just inform your guest that you won’t be welcoming children to your wedding. You have every right to do this despite the protests of friends and relatives who are parents. However, make sure that you compensate your guests by ensuring the wedding is a really adult-friendly event that kids really shouldn’t be a part of!

The warring parents

How they’ll ruin your day

Parents of the bride and groom who are no longer together can be difficult to manage. They can’t be in the same room as each other for long before the comments and drama begin. You want them there of course, but you’d rather they left the baggage at home!

How to deal with them

Here you need to nip any drama in the bud early. Speak to each party and explain that you want them there but you don’t want them to make the day about themselves. Once they have been firmly told the lay of the land, make sure that you keep their interaction on the day to a minimum.

When it comes to seating, you may have to give each parent their own special table rather than forcing them to sit together on the top table. his will be especially true if they have new spouses or partners. The same approach can be taken with parents who aren’t divorced but just don’t get on with each other.

Another change in tradition may also have to be in who gives a speech. If the father of the bride’s speech will annoy the mother of the bride you could give them both a chance to speak or neither of them. Just make sure you make your own wishes crystal clear!

The limelight stealer

How they’ll ruin your day

This is the bridesmaid (or groomsman)who always up markets you or the woman who inexplicably wears white to your wedding. They will try to make your day all about them.

How to deal with them

You can either take a passive or proactive approach. If you know your bridesmaid, groomsman or what have you is always desperate to be center of attention you can openly tell them to cool their jets. It’s not easy but they should be able to understand that you want your day to be all about you.

Alternatively, you just need to grin and bear it and perhaps plan your revenge for their wedding when you will do the same. Honestly, you’ll be so busy that things that might bother you on any other day are likely to go under your radar.

The picky eater

How they’ll ruin your day

This is the person who has a particular food allergy or dietary need who didn’t let you know until everyone was sitting down for the wedding breakfast.

How to deal with them

This is where your choice of venue and cater will be important. Most caters are used to catering for people with special dietary needs as well as those with certain allergies. Make sure that they fully brief their service staff on all ingredients for all the dishes. Also, see if you can arrange for a back up for a least a couple of guests who suddenly inform you they can’t eat what’s in front of them.

To stop this happening, you can make it very clear on your invitation cards that all and any dietary needs should be communicated to you along with the RSVP. You’ll never get 100% success in this, so you should just let it go knowing that you tried your best. After all, it’s your wedding day so one hungry guest isn’t worth pulling your hair out over.

The blast from the past

How they’ll ruin your day

These are exes, crushes or even old friends who know your secrets. They bring with them jealousy and intrigue!

How to deal with them

It really depends on the type of person you are and what your spouse thinks. Lea throughout our relationship constantly asked how I’d feel about her asking her ex-fiancé with whom she spent 10 years to our wedding. That’s a firm no baby, even if it was for rubbing it in his stupid face. However, you may feel differently. Just weigh the gain from seeing an old friend and the secret hurt your new partner may be holding inside. My vote is always cross them off the list.

The boaster

How they’ll ruin your day

This is the person who is already married and thinks that their wedding was the best one of the century and won’t stop telling you! They will be most obnoxious in the run-up to the big day.

How to deal with them

They are probably just feeling insecure and nostalgic about when all the focus was on them. I would suggest that you just humor them and let them think that they are ‘the best’.

Even if they critique your plans and choices for your own wedding, it’s not worth getting in a fight or upset over this. The best thing to do if you really need to invite them is to keep them at arm’s length for the big day, and then for as much of your life as you can!

The wedding crasher

How they’ll ruin your day

This is some random person who wanders into your wedding as a lost soul or a devious freeloader. They can drink your bar tab dry and eat all your limited nibbles that were intended for your real guests.

How to deal with them

There are so many key things to remember when preventing wedding crashers at your wedding that I wrote an entire article about this which you can check out here.

At the Ceremony

Know your guests

First and foremost, know exactly who your guests are and which ones you should be concerned about, this means any exes and secret crushes especially! Nothing good can come from a relatively unknown guest showing up and making a huge presence at the reception. Do your research. Ensure that if any phone calls about behavior need to be made ahead of time or in an extreme case an un-invite has to be issued it’s all done in well advance.

It’s best to speak with your wedding planner, if you have one, about the possibility of the people on your naughty list acting out, as this will certainly affect your seating arrangement.

Seating Arrangement

Now that everybody has arrived at the ceremony, it’s time to do some crowd control. The relatives and your best friends should be seated at the front closest to the important part of the room with the lesser-known friends of friends occupying the rear of the room around the exit area.  

A great way to be sure there is no mix up at this point would be to tell anyone who is not close with the wedding party that the guest arrival at the ceremony is a little bit later than it actually is; say be there by 6 rather than 5:30.

This will buy you some time to greet the VIPs and have them seated first where they need to be. Even 30mins could be vital.

At the Reception

Before the Reception to Dos:

Tip 1:

Speak with the venue about security measures and if there will be anybody on-site during the reception. If not get contact and procedure info in the event of an emergency or if somebody needs to be removed giving this information to the MC (Master of Ceremonies) or another delegated person.

Tip 2:

Assign trusted, preferably larger, friends to do crowd control. This will work out great as they will feel helpful as a friend and you basically have yourself some free bouncers!

Tip 3:

If not already known, find out who the “red flag” guests will be with and prepare them for maybe having to speak with their friend and have them calmed down.

Tip 4:

Have cabs or a ride home ready to go at the drop of a hat in case you need somebody removed from the event fast.

Seating Arrangement Again

Finally, the main event of the evening has begun and everyone is seated at the reception. Here, just like the ceremony, you will want to be very careful of designated seats. Luckily, however, here you already have control of where people will sit. Also, just like the ceremony, you will want to distance the more high-risk guests from the head table.

A few extra variables to keep in mind here are the distance to the bar for your party animals, and any guests with a bad history sitting close to each other. For example, relatives that tend to get into fights, exes with new partners or even generational gaps that just won’t see eye to eye.

Trying to add a few kids (if invited) at each table could be a great way to make sure that each table stays under control during the show. This is a crucial pre-wedding consideration that any good wedding planner will bring to your attention right away.

Pre-Approved Speeches

Arguably the most important part of the reception is hearing the great things everybody has to say about the bride and groom during the speeches. A great idea to ensure this goes smoothly is to have your MC prepped with a list of approved speeches ahead of the wedding.

Preferably for the whole duration of the reception but if you must have some last-minute additions, have them sign up beforehand to give you a chance to say “no sorry we just don’t have enough time!” NEVER let the MC open up the floor to volunteers, even early on in the festivities as you never know who might have already drunk too much or has a secret chip on their shoulder.

For my younger brother’s wedding, his new father-in-law made a very awkward speech about my sister-in-law’s ex-boyfriends. He was trying to make a joke but it just went on for too long and some people had their heads in their hands.

Luckily I was best man and being more used to speaking in public (English Teacher) I saved the day and at least got the congregation in a better mood!

Recommended Alcohol Consumption

 Although it is important for everybody to have a good time at your wedding, if you feel like alcohol might be a problem, limiting alcohol consumption might a priority for you.

Great ways to do this would be to have a cash bar or simply limit everybody to 2 or 3 drinks.  This can be done by using a ticket system that would help govern and track how many drinks are accessible by each person.

In an extreme case, that may not be a popular decision, you can have an alcohol free reception. This would certainly help keep everything in line, but beware it may cause quite a few people to head for the door early.

Controlling or Removing a Guest

If in the unlikely event that a guest still manages to get out of line, first, have the people that the guest is with, that you have hopefully already spoken to, have a serious chat with that person about their behavior.

If the problem persists you can ask them to kindly leave in one of the ready to go vehicles waiting outside. In the most extreme case that the guest is still being unruly, you can have one or more of your pre-assigned “bouncer” guests escort them out of the event hastily. 

Above all, try to relax and enjoy your big day. Let some little things slide, as there is bound to be some. Whenever this many people who may not have seen each other in a long time, or are just meeting for the first time, there are bound to be some slip-ups. At the end of this great day, the goal is for everybody to have a good time not to feel like they have just been through a military training exercise.

Here are some important things you may also need to consider…..

How to choose the best MC for your wedding

Being an MC is an extremely important job and can make or break your big day. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with difficult guests. Choosing from your friend group can be risky as resentment could occur should something go wrong.

Choose Somebody Qualified

Should you decide somebody from your friend group, it is very important to choose someone who is QUALIFIED for the job, rather than just the person with who you are closest.

Remember, being an MC requires being in control of and entertaining a large group of people for hours! Make sure this person has a great deal of public speaking experience and is able to handle themselves being put on the spot in a tough situation.

The best candidate would be somebody who has tried some stand-up comedy or performing arts of some kind. This will ensure that they will be able to handle the curveballs and hopefully be able to turn the slip-ups into something enjoyable for the crowd.

Typically humor is the best way to go but a soft touch in this type of moment is important. Try to choose somebody who will be a good mix of both.

In mine and Lea’s case, we needed someone who was bi-lingual (English & Mandarin Chinese) for my younger brother’s wedding he chose a family friend who was a singer in a band and used to entertaining people. Dan, my brother’s MC, really saved the day after some awkward speeches! So, it really depends on the type of wedding and the crowd you have.

Choose a Professional

Believe it or not, there are actually professional MCs that are for hire if you’re willing to spend the money. Most of these are somewhat struggling comedians or perhaps just great speech givers with some free time and a strange hobby looking for a thrill.

There are even sites like that will train you on how to become a professional MC. The best thing to do would be to Google people in your local area or visit a local Toastmasters branch to find somebody that would be suitable for your wedding.

Remember, the goal for the MC is to entertain, control the pace of the day and above all make everybody feel comfortable having a good time and letting loose. Somebody that might be a bit too overbearing or overly too heartfelt, could put a damper on the wedding. This is an important member of your wedding team and you’ll need them to help you with those tricky people on your guest list.

After the ceremony and reception

Of course, all weddings are different, but in my mind, a wedding normally stretches from the early afternoon until the wee hours. So, even if you’ve survived all through the ceremony, wedding breakfast and even the reception festivities, problem guests can still ruin things in the final quarter

Best ways to get your guests home after an event

Getting your guests home safely after your big night can be just as important as the event itself. In the case of your wedding, it is best to be prepared as there is likely to be a lot of alcohol involved. Making this as efficient and pain-free is going to reduce the headache you may get from those certain few people.

Designated Drivers

Having designated drivers, that you can trust, can be a great way for your guests to have as much fun as they want without having to worry about their ride home. This can also be a great way for people who don’t like to drink to interact with other guests and give them a good reason that they aren’t partaking in the drinking for the night.

Designated Driving Company

 If there aren’t any or not enough people willing to be designated drivers, ordering service such as a keys please or a designated driving service is wonderful. These have been growing in popularity over the years and there is likely to be one operating in your area.

They will send out several drivers if you need to drive your guests home in their own cars, so they don’t have to worry about going to get their vehicles in the morning. These also may not be as expensive as you think costing around $25 US per car.

Cabs and UBER

Of course, should you choose to go the traditional cab or UBER route, there is certain to be plenty of those in your area. Just be sure to call them ahead of time to have them at your venue ready to go should it happen to be a busy night for them.

The main goal is to make sure all of your guests are getting home as safely as possible, minimizing the risk of anybody getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

Phil & Lea Hawes

We are Phil & Lea Hawes and we got married in 2019. We have planned (mainly Lea) two weddings together. The first was a small ceremony in Hong Kong just for us and our parents at a registry office. Our other wedding was a larger family wedding in Taiwan. Having planned two very different types of weddings and dealt with all the demands and hiccups which come with it, we are uniquely qualified as a writing team to give sound advice to other couples embarking on their own wedding journey.

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