need advice on how to handle a difficult sister-in-law at wedding

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  JessicaFay 3 years, 1 month ago.

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    Rachel S

    Need advice on how to handle a difficult sister-in-law at wedding. My partner and i are generally pretty relaxed people, and we want our wedding to be low key and fun, a bit like a fair. Our families have been wonderful about it, and have let us do our own thing. (btw we are paying for out wedding. We’re both adults, and there’s no reason my parents should be burdened with the any of the cost of a wedding.) Huzzah! However, my lovely hubby-to-be is from a very large family (he is the youngest of six siblings) and one of his sisters has a habit of creating a scene in many and varied ways. I don’t mind the attention seeking – hey, some people never grow up, and she’s permanently stuck as a middle child. I sort of understand, even if it’s not how I would behave. What I have a problem with is when her attention seeking turns offensive. As in racist and homophobic histrionics offensive. Or very public screaming matches with family offensive. Normally I would just exit stage left until things calm down, but that’s not really an option at my wedding. With an open bar, her estranged son present, and a large opportunity for potential carnage, does anyone have any advice for how to handle things if she does get out of control? Her family don’t really have any way of calming things, they often argue back inflaming the situation. I need verbal oil to pour on the metaphorical choppy waters. Or rather, I need to prepare in case things get out of hand. And no, there is no way we couldn’t invite her. I’m going to be married into this family for the rest of my life, and a family feud would be a terrible way to begin married life!



    Yikes this is a tough one. To be honest, if your family have a history of fighting with her and are aware of how troublesome she may be; you could consider not inviting her after talking about it with the family. If worse comes to worse, confront her about it intervention-style (she may have a tantrum and uninvite herself).
    If she’s the kind of person that will cread a “feud” over her inappropriate behaviour, then she isn’t the kind of relative you really want in your life anyway. You said she can be racist, homophobic and have screaming matches, if this isn’t someone you’d be proud introducing to your friends or influencing your future children then you should probably put your interests first.
    Just because she’ll be related to you by marriage, does not mean you should risk her making a scene and detracting you from your day.


    Rachel S

    Thanks Happy G. It’s a difficult one for us, as sometimes she will behave normally, but occasionally she’ll let loose with unpredictable behaviour. I suspect there is an underlying mental health issue of some sort.
    Since we sent our invites out already I think I’m just going to hope that being around a lot of people she doesn’t know will help keep things in check.
    I wasn’t sure if I was just preemptively over reacting since I’m from a family that doesn’t do loud argumnets. We are more the “frosty silences, followed by tearful reconcilliations” type, so I’ve never really developed a good technique for derailing shouting matches.



    Because she’s already been invited, the only option is ‘crowd control’ I would suggest ‘assigning’ someone in your bridal party or a family member that you know is pretty good at keeping her under control to keep an eye on her and restrict her access to alcohol or relatives/people that tend to set her off.
    Reducing the easy access to copious amounts of alcohol is always a good idea, have non-alcoholic drink options as well as table service instead of an open bar or stick to basic spirits and a signature cocktail (this will also help to keep costs down).
    If she’s already explosive and upredictable, the stresses involved in a wedding + alcohol will be a toxic mix.



    Hi Rachel,
    You could spread the word that anyone who creates a scene will be asked to leave? A friend of mine got married last year and had a sister-in-law who sounds quite similar to yours – she and her fiance spread it around that security would not hesitate to boot out anyone who was causing trouble and made sure she heard. At the wedding, she did try to start an argument but a stern look from the venue’s wedding planner stopped her in her tracks.
    Perhaps the threat of being asked to leave (and publicly humiliated) will cause her to behave?

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