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What to do when someone is upset with their wedding party role

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Wedding planning involves so many emotional highs and lows, not only for you and your partner but for your loved ones as well. It’s natural for your family and friends to want to be involved as much as possible on your big day, but in some instances, you may not be able to make everyone happy and meet their expectations (without having to sacrifice your own).

This is where feelings may get hurt when it comes to your wedding party roles, or designated wedding roles in general. Unfortunately, it can be unavoidable despite your best efforts - especially if you have a larger wedding party with differing budgets, expectations, responsibilities, or otherwise.

We’ve rounded up some wedding experts to help you navigate this tricky situation, and how to keep the peace and (hopefully!) come to a compromise.

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Communication and honesty are the priorities

Family and friends want to feel as if they have a special place in your wedding day. Potential scenarios might run the gamut of being unhappy that they weren’t asked to be in the wedding party, feeling like they have too much or too little responsibility, having scheduling or budget conflicts, or even interpersonal drama within the wedding party itself.

According to Greg Carlyle of The Millennium Event Center, identifying the issue and communicating should always come first. “The quicker these feelings are addressed, the better for everyone. If you sense that a wedding party member is upset with their role, don’t hesitate to diplomatically bring it up. You may find another role your friend or family member is better suited to, and knowing sooner rather than later gives you time to adjust the wedding party if necessary.”

The concern may even boil down to something personal to the wedding party member in question, and could be something that you didn’t consider.

“Take time to actively listen to your friend or family member about their feelings regarding the role in your wedding. Maybe they agreed to a role that they cannot fulfill due to financial or time constraints and now regret accepting. Or perhaps upon further review, the role really isn’t the best fit — like someone reading at the ceremony who is afraid of public speaking,” suggests Brandon Alley of Bunn DJ Company.

Listen to how they respond

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Listen to how they respond

Once you’ve had your conversation and laid everything on the table, it’s important to note how the other person responds. Not everyone may react selflessly and be understanding, which could speak to a deeper issue. In this case, it’s up to you how you want to move forward.

Juls Sharpley of Juls Sharpley Events states, “If they respond with anything other than love or understanding, you cannot take that on yourselves. Don't feel bad for explaining yourself and honoring who you are and what you need in order to have your best day. Your friends and family members should be there to support you and help you have your best day ever. If they don't understand and honor that, that's on them, not on you!”

Even after an honest conversation, they may still be upset about their role (or lack thereof) in your wedding, attests Aly Raddatz of Elevated Events. “This is when you need to issue a gentle but firm ultimatum (and be willing to go through with it). Explain how important they are to you and how important this role is in your day. If they can’t see it that way, ask them to please bow out and be a guest. You don’t need high emotions on the big day from a member of the wedding party.”

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What your options are

Solutions are never a one-size-fits-all, but there are certainly things that you can do without feeling like you’re fulfilling unreasonable requests.

“Sometimes there are too many cooks in the kitchen,” says Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services. “You may not have intended to leave someone out of the wedding party or not assigned someone a role; there are things that slip through the cracks when you’re planning such a large event.

We sometimes see wedding parties that are upwards of 8-10 people per partner, and it can be tough to assign equally important responsibilities to everyone. Consider taking some extra one-on-one photos with that person, including their favorite beverage in the cocktail lineup, or reserving a special song to dance with them during the reception.”

Every wedding is different and completely personal to each couple - both parties should be diplomatic in voicing their opinions, but ultimately, your decision is what matters!

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.

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