Let’s be honest, the best part of a wedding is having everyone you love in the same room – on the other hand, the worst part of a wedding might be having everyone you love in the same room. Unfortunately, while you may love everyone you invite to your wedding, there is always the possibility that they might not love each other. Whether your future in-laws don’t get along with your parents, or you have a step-mom or dad situation to contend with, navigating family drama requires skill, patience and some solid boundaries.

Here are some sure fire ways to make sure every side of the family is on the same page.

Step 1 – Get on the same page yourselves: It is imperative that you and your fiancé present a united front when dealing with potential wedding drama. Make a pact early on to not discuss your planning disagreements with your family, or share details that you don’t both agree on. If you need help settling an argument, rely on a member of your bridal party you can trust to stay impartial.

Family on the Same Page

Photo Courtesy of Lori Waltenbury

Step 2 – Identify potential drama-makers: Is your sister mad that you’re getting married first? Is your fiancé’s dad’s new girl-friend hated by your mother-in-law’s family? Does the best-man like to get drunk and take his pants off? Identifying potential problems early on means that you can formulate a plan of attack on how to deal with them before they become a problem.

Step 3 – Have the tough conversations: Once you have identified potential problem areas, it’s now time to sit down with your family and have the tough conversations. For instance, if your parents are divorced and don’t get along, explain to them that you will not tolerate any drama at the wedding and that they are expected to be respectful of each other. If your mother-in-law seems to think it is her wedding, explain to her that while you appreciate her opinion, ultimately all decisions will be yours.

Step 4 – Set boundaries, enforce boundaries, rinse, repeat: Decide early on what you will and won’t accept from your family members – then stick to it! Make a pact with your partner to help each other enforce your boundaries and make sure your families respect them. Boundaries are important, especially in families with strong personalities to keep everyone on the same page and not feeling left out.

Step 5 – Be empathetic: While weddings are full of amazing moments, they can also be difficult for your family members. Remember that at the end of the day, your families are people with feelings and oftentimes, they just want to feel heard. Allowing family to express their feelings (well ahead of the actual wedding) will ensure a smoother wedding day for everyone involved.

BONUS – Talk to someone: No shame in the therapy game! If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed or worried about how to navigate family politics, talk to an impartial third party, like a therapist. They can give you tools to have productive conversations as well as stress management tips to get you through the pre-wedding phase!