How to deal with misbehaving guests & abusive relationships at your wedding

Guest post by Anonymous
How to deal with misbehaving guests & abusive relationships at your wedding
Villains Poster by Oneskillwonder

My wedding was amazing… but for one guest. We'll call her Cruella. She has a history of unruly behavior, and had even sent me threatening texts before the wedding.

And then Cruella hit me at my wedding… right after the toasts… and somehow she was allowed to stay and eat the cake.

While she didn't ruin my wedding, my reflections on the event are definitely influenced by her behavior, and I ended up spending most of the reception in a bit of shock.

When we got home from our honeymoon, I learned more about the “Cruella Sagas” — I was not the only person she got out of line with at the wedding.

Looking back, I would have trusted my gut and handled the situation differently.

Here's the advice I would have given myself about dealing with a difficult wedding guest, having now been through it…

1. Trust your gut

This is by far the number one thing I wish I had done. I had concerns about Cruella before the wedding, but I let people talk me out of getting a private detail officer, and I dismissed my own concerns because other people made me feel that I was being unreasonable, and that I was catastrophizing.

Listen to yourself, and not the people who don't know your situation and previous experiences.

2. Don't expect good behavior because it's a wedding

I went on the assumption that certain things wouldn't happen: Cruella wouldn't make a scene, and would behave for the sake of making herself look good and give herself something to lord over me later. I was completely wrong. She behaved very badly, and I was not the only person she caused major problems for at the wedding. A lot of us assume people will behave well at a public event for the sake of making themselves look good. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition… or a wedding guest to show up and assault the bride.

3. Be explicitly clear about what warrants asking someone to leave

And don't be afraid of seeming like a jerk. There are some clear lines that the law will have your back on, even if your family doesn't. If someone violates any laws, or even any of your personal boundaries, they are not entitled to stay. That goes for someone mistreating your guests and my family as well.

Let certain people know about the situation and to not just put up with misbehavior to “protect you” from hearing about it.

4. Don't assume that people are used to bad behavior and know how to react to it

Every time someone found out what happened, there was a universal “If I had any idea I would have [insert action taken].” Then it dawned on me: most people have no idea how to react to being bullied or abused, and have even less of an idea of what to do when someone they love is misbehaving. Which leads me to…

5. Designate a point person to deal with badly behaving guests

This is something I did do, and it prevented a lot of escalation from happening pre-ceremony. My best man was the designated person for dealing with badly behaving guests, and I specifically gave him the heads up on what Cruella might do.

If I could have done it again, I would have hired a detail officer and had the best man be the person to get the officer if needed. Even just having a uniformed presence may have helped cut back on any bad behavior, but if it doesn't, there would be zero questions on who to go to when someone starts acting awful.

6. Have a game plan and write it down

While I implemented rule #5, I didn't follow up with rule #6, and I wish I had. If I had written out a game plan and given it to the wedding party and my family, the people I told would have known to go to my best man. He would have known that Cruella had to leave, and would have known how to make it so.

How do you come up with a game plan? Ask the venue what their policy is on making misbehaving guests leave, and write that down, along with rule #3: what you personally decide warrants someone getting kicked out of your wedding. Print it out and give it to family, your wedding party, hired help, and anyone else who might need to know.

Moral of the story: If you think someone may cause problems at your wedding, listen to yourself. Make a plan. Then if something bad happens? It's all taken care of. If not? Now you know how to help make a safety plan for anyone else who might need one during their wedding.


Updated to add

I wrote this so that people who have to endure unfortunate guests for any reason (history of violence or not) can come up with a safety plan — not so that we could discuss who people should or should not invite to their weddings for whatever reason.

I do have two points of consideration:

1. Someone who is disentangling themselves from a chronically abusive situation often relies on other people for a sense of normal.
They are also very sensitive of not wanting to seem dramatic or “victim-y”. Because of that, any invalidation of a person's concerns are taken very critically and personally. Drawing boundaries while you still have a foot in an abusive situation is not easy. I was told by everyone around me that no one would ever [insert abusive behavior] at a wedding. I decided I must be overreacting and that my gut was wrong on telling her she was not welcome. My husband was the only one who really stood by me on how I felt, but having grown up in a non abusive family, he didn't know what to do to help.

The threatening text I received were not of physical assault, otherwise she would have been blocked from entering. That said I would not blame anyone for not knowing how to respond to threats of physical assault.

I was expecting some drama from this person and they did follow through on what they texted, but I was prepared so they didn't succeed. Since they didn't succeed, they escalated. It's unreasonable to expect someone to forsee that they will be assaulted.

2. Stating that someone should have just not been invited is getting mighty close to victim-blaming language. It is not my fault that this guest hit me.

If you ever encounter anyone in this situation, I encourage you to be a validator. Validate the person's feelings about the potential offender. Offer solutions, because the person may not know what their options are. Don't assume someone who's been entrenched in maltreatment just knows what to do. We aren't taught those kinds of boundaries and often need to learn them the hard way.

If someone had just said to me: “What the hell is that person thinking?! Ugh, UNINVITE THAT PERSON” things may have turned out differently.

The more I extricate myself from the abusive situation I was born into, the more used to victim-blaming I've become. There is a reason that people in abusive situations don't talk – they're told not to talk, and when they do, people blame them for being mistreated. Unfortunately the only way out is to talk.

Worried someone will cause problems at your event? Or did you worse fears already come true? What did y'all do to combat Cruellas?

Comments on How to deal with misbehaving guests & abusive relationships at your wedding

  1. Augh. My heart goes out to this bride. Anonymous internet high-fives for choosing to share that experience to maybe spare someone else suffering through the same thing!

  2. urrg, that sounds awful. I had to UN-invite my MIL, her sister and her mother to my wedding because they caused a huge scene at my shower. Even though the choice was hard to make, I am so glad we did. Our wedding was drama free and I was able to establish boundaries. You gotta be respectful if you want to be in our lives

  3. I’m so sorry this happened to you. And I’m so glad you took the time to explain how to deal with a situation like this.

    I hope and trust you are in a good, safe place now.

    Take care.

    • Yup, things are good. That person is cut out of my life, along with all of their enablers.

  4. I am in awe that 1. she wasn’t in turn hit back and 2. that no one manhandled her ace out of there. I guess if she is a loved one or family member, it is harder, but that does not mean she has a be bitchtastic pass.
    I wasn’t physically assaulted, but every time I think of my wedding, one person’s behavior always sticks out to me as well. She was supposed to be a trusted friend and her actions totally ruined our friendship.

    • Author here – I didn’t hit her back because it’s just not in my nature to hit people, and also because I knew she desperately wanted a scene to ruin the wedding. My suspicions were confirmed later when I found out she outright threatened to make a scene, and tried starting scenes with several other people.

      She has been fired from my life. No thank you card, no goodbye. But in hindsight, I wish I had given people a list of behaviors that people should be booted for. She wouldn’t have lasted to the ceremony.

  5. I’m very curious to know the relationship of this person to you. I need help understanding why you would invite a guest you knew in your gut would cause issues in the first place. I understand they may be a family member or somebody’s close friend but I can’t see how it would be worth it to have them there. I would rather deal with drama before the wedding then deal with drama at the wedding. This article is great as a contingency plan if guests get unruly but I would imagine you shouldn’t be inviting somebody you know is violent, regardless of the relationship.

    • This was my question, too! I’m assuming she was a close family member or something along those lines? Someone who everyone else felt had to be there, for whatever reason? Otherwise, I don’t fully understand why she was allowed to come if she had been threatening the bride prior to the wedding… or allowed to stay after hitting her. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that, whoever this person may have been to you.

      I would personally add that part of Step #1 should be evaluating if it’s worth allowing the person in question to come at all. Dealing with a little bit of minor tension is one thing, but a guest who is actually a threat to your (or anyone else’s) safety is another.

      • I wrote this so that people who have to endure unfortunate guests for any reason -history of violence or not- can come up with a safety plan, not so that we could discuss who people should or should not invite for whatever reason.

        I do have two points of consideration:

        1. Someone who is disentangling themselves from a chronically abusive situation often relies on other people for a sense of normal.
        They are also very sensitive of not wanting to seem dramatic or “victim-y”. Because of that, any invalidation of a person’s concerns are taken very critically and personally. Drawing boundaries while you still have a foot in an abusive situation is not easy. I was told by everyone around me that no one would ever [insert abusive behavior] at a wedding. I decided I must be overreacting and that my gut was wrong on telling her she was not welcome. My husband was the only one who really stood by me on how I felt, but having grown up in a non abusive family, he didn’t know what to do to help.

        The threatening text I received were not of physical assault, otherwise she would have been blocked from entering. That said I would not blame anyone for not knowing how to respond to threats of physical assault.

        I was expecting some drama from this person and they did follow through on what they texted, but I was prepared so they didn’t succeed. Since they didn’t succeed, they escalated. It’s unreasonable to expect someone to forsee that they will be assaulted.

        2. Stating that someone should have just not been invited is getting mighty close to victim blaming language. It is not my fault that they hit me.

        If you ever encounter anyone in this situation, I encourage you to be a validator. Validate the person’s feelings about the potential offender. Offer solutions, because the person may not know what their options are. Don’t assume someone who’s been entrenched in maltreatment just knows what to do. We aren’t taught those kinds of boundaries and often need to learn them the hard way.

        If someone had just said to me: “What the hell is that person thinking?! Ugh, UNINVITE THAT PERSON” things may have turned out differently.

        • Go you. I was trying to figure out a way to respond to say pretty much just this. I’m so glad it’s already on your radar. You made the best decision for yourself, with the info you had. She is the only one at fault, because she is the one who decided to assault you.

          • The more I extricate myself from the abusive situation I was born into, the more used to victim blaming I’ve become. There is a reason that people in abusive situations don’t talk – they’re told not to talk, and when they do, people blame them for being mistreated. Unfortunately the only way out is to talk.

            It shouldn’t be that way, but I think that the same dynamic of disbelief that led people to tell me “no one would ever _______ at a wedding, you must be overreacting.” is at the root of victim blaming.

        • Thank you so much for sharing! Unfortunately the person who is threatening me regarding the wedding happens to be my mom. And while most people screech “JUST DON’T INVITE HER” no matter how tumultuous and abusive my childhood was, I just can’t see not inviting my own mother to my wedding. Which I’m sure makes no sense to most people.

          I promptly forwarded this whole article to my fiance and the bridal party so we all know what to do.

          You may have just saved my wedding !

          • I’m so glad this can help you! Your situation makes perfect sense to me, and good for you for taking steps to protect yourself! I definitely hope you’re on the tribe, because that’s a really good place to get support.

          • what do you do about family members related to your mom who believe she is a victim. Do you still invite them and do you worry they will inform your mom of your wedding and she will show up anyway? Sorry Im kind of on the same boat. I appreciate you sharing your experiences, people like myself don’t feel so alone.

          • Sarah,
            My mom has alienated most of her family over the years of acting like an insane person. She has some friends, however, who have been calling me and stopping me on the street proclaiming :” what are you doing to your mother!?” One even got in my face at my shower.

            I have decided to invite them since there are only a few and I figured they’d probably keep her occupied and far away from me on the day since they all see me as “a miserable b.” Hope this helps :/

            Just remember there will be lots of people there who love and support you xo

          • Ally!

            I appreciate your words so very much. More than you know. I have some family who sides with her…family is family. Despite whatever damage shes done to her kids. Which boggles my mind. Anyway, hoping for the best outcome, truly hoping she doesn’t show up uninvited. I applaud you for still inviting yours. Cheers to you and all the happiness and love you deserve. xoxo

        • I’m really sorry that this came off as “victim blaming” – that wasn’t my intention at all. It’s absolutely not your fault that she acted out. I just thought it was worth saying that people should feel empowered to not invite someone they aren’t comfortable with. I’m sad that more people in your life didn’t encourage you to do that.

          • I think those of us who don’t come from abusive backgrounds have a really hard time understanding the dynamics that go on here. For us, it’s simple. Suspect someone’s going to be a complete beast at your wedding? Don’t invite ’em! But when you’ve got people who make you question your own gut feelings, it’s not so simple. It’s important, if you have a friend who has an abusive family, to validate her feelings and let her know that she’s not the bad guy here, she’s being perfectly reasonable.

          • I can understand where the author would call what you said as getting close to victim blaming, but I see a different side to it. I have certain family members that have issued threats and caused scenes at different family functions. My fiance’ also has people in his family that will cause drama as well. When I brought up my worries about our families clashing and something happening, my mother and other family members made the statement “Well I don’t think ___ will do anything, you HAVE to invite them.” I responded by telling all of them ” Fine, I will invite them but if anything happens at my wedding, I’m placing the blame on you because I warned you something could happen and the only reason I invited them is because YOU pushed for it, not me.”

        • Of course I’m not the recipient of the comment but I don’t think it was meant as “victim blaming” they were just trying to better understand your view. Certain personalities don’t even bat an eye at doing what they are sure will be best for themselves while others agonize about doing what is best for all parties. I think this comment was about understanding your view. I think a comment along the lines of “You shouldn’t have invited her” is very different from what was written.

  6. Was she a relative like a grandmother? I know it may be low to say, but I’m glad my grandmother isn’t alive to do the same thing at my wedding…

  7. My wedding was just a few weeks ago. During the wedding my mother-in-law started acting out in a big way, which caused a stand off between her and my husband in the middle of the dance floor and again in the parking lot. She was emotional that day, understandably, but she also drank…a LOT, which is completely out of character for her. A few days after the wedding, I found out that my (sort-of) aunt who lives with me because she has nowhere else to go, was introducing herself to our guests as my maid! I still don’t understand why either of them decided to act out with such passive-aggressive behavior in front of 100+ people.

  8. Thank you for sharing your experience with all the world. I’m so sorry you had that happen at your wedding.

    Here is my suggestion: a Wedding Coordinator! That’s what they are there for, to take care of things like unruly guests and make sure everyone has a wonderful, stress-free time. It’s her job — and your wedding isn’t the first, or last, to have some kind of issue.

    While it’s great to have a member of the wedding party as the “go-to” person, a Wedding Coordinator is able to deal with the situation without any of the “baggage” or distractions. Also, if you tell her about your concerns before the wedding, she will help you determine whether you should “un-invite” them or need to hire security. And she can keep an eye on the guest(s) and be prepared to act before the situation escalates.

    So many people think a Wedding Coordinator is a fluffy job and she just “makes sure everyone enters the ceremony in the proper order” but it’s much more than that! It’s her responsibility to take care of all the messy details — and having a guest who can’t behave is one of the messiest. And it’s not something the B&G should even be aware of that day, let alone have to deal with.

    • I absolutely second this, if you can afford it! In hindsight, a wedding coordinator would have been worth the financial costs, and not just because of Cruella. What I would have given for a full night’s sleep the week before the wedding ;P

      Another alternative is to look into hiring a detail officer. You can do that by calling the county the wedding will be in and asking if they do details for weddings, and if not, what they suggest as an alternative. Having someone there in uniform can deescalate situations before they happen, and if you have a Wedding Coordinator, they can even get things set up for you 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing. My mother decided not to come to my wedding, because of her divorced husband (my beloved daddy) and his new wife. And what can I say? I am happy, that she doesn’t come. She is that person who misbehaves like you mentioned in your text. I made my deal with this situation.

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