Advice: Problematic Persuasions

How to deal with troubling guests, party members and expectations
Q: I’m getting married in New Orleans soon and we’re planning on having an open bar, but I have an aunt who can’t hold her liquor — she often even shows up to gatherings drunk. I can’t not invite her to our wedding, but how do I deal with her, or anyone else who gets drunk, without causing a scene?

Alcohol permeates our culture and our celebratory events in the Crescent City, but it can often cause uncomfortable situations and can even dampen our good memories. This is why it’s important to have a plan in place to prevent and manage drinking and drunk guests before they become unruly.

The first thing is to make certain that you have enough food available for your guests. This isn’t just a wedding thing, but something every responsible host or hostess should do.

If at all possible, you should call problem drinkers beforehand and tell them what behavior is expected of them. This will be hard, especially if that person doesn’t believe their drinking is an issue, but you owe it to them and to yourself to try.

Then you have some options. You can set up a buddy system where someone you trust is partnered with the person you’re concerned about, and ask the buddy to monitor that person’s drinking and stop them when they’ve had enough.

Or you can meet with the team helming your reception or organize them in advance — a member of the catering team, a security guard, the venue manager, your planner or a family member. Tell them about the guests you’re concerned about and discuss how to handle them if their drinking becomes a problem. This could include removing intoxicated guests, limiting the time the bar is open, telling bartenders to water down the drinks or limiting drinks per guest or per hour. You can explain to the bar staff beforehand that shots or straight alcohol shouldn’t be served.

Whatever you choose, handle it in advance and do your best to put it out of your mind on the day of your wedding. You will have enough to do and concentrate on, and the possible actions of your guests shouldn’t be your concern.


Q: I asked an old friend of mine to be a bridesmaid because we had always promised each other that we’d be in each other’s weddings, but we’re not as close as we used to be and she doesn’t seem to want to be a part of everything. She’s showing up late, hasn’t had her dress fitted or paid for it, and the other bridesmaids say she’s been getting tipsy and saying inappropriate things. Can I fire her?

We’ve all seen the results of firing a bridesmaid go viral, and no one wants their wedding to be famous for something like that. Unfortunately, unless you want to end your relationship with this friend, you’re just going to have to grin and bear it. If you have a wedding planner, have her reach out and say she’s taking over that bridesmaid’s responsibilities, like planning a brunch, bridal party or shower; you can also ask your planner to check in on her dress. If you don’t have a planner, ask your maid of honor to check in on all the bridesmaids — about their responsibilities, dress, and so forth — so you’re not singling anyone out.


Q: I’m a bridesmaid for a dear friend and I live in the same town as she does. She’s very lucky to have multiple groups of people wanting to throw her many, many showers, and since I’m in town, I’ve been invited to all of them. I’m happy to represent the bridal party (her sister is also here, but the other bridesmaids all live out of town), but do I really have to bring a gift to each one?

Unfortunately, yes, you do. But you don’t have to give big gifts for every event. You can’t show up empty handed, but you can and should go big on the wedding gift and smaller on the rest. Try to stick to the registry but give a nice bottle opener along with a bottle of her favorite wine or a cheese knife set with a small gift certificate to a local cheese shop. You don’t have to spend much, but don’t re-gift something; this is the time to give something you know she’ll like without breaking the bank.