…Because sometimes you have a wedding day brawl (+ some wedding crasher tips!)

Guest post by Carrie Swails

Family drama happens, this we know. Photographer Carrie Swails had a brush with a wedding day brawl and she's sharing how it happened and how the couple moved on from it…

Get out the popcorn for this wedding day brawl story as seen on @offbeatbride
The look of holding back the rage… Photos by Carrie Swails Photography

I've seen a lot of stuff photographing weddings, but brawls are a different story. This is not the story of that time I totaled my car on the way to a wedding or that time the groom spent the wedding day grabbing my assistant's ass. This is the story of Meggen and Jake and their wedding day brawl.

Meggen and Jake are like everyone else in the world who have family drama. I remember them warning me at one point about a possible confrontation happening at their wedding. I wondered about Meggen's perspective of the day and the brawl when it actually occurred. Luckily, Meggen and Jake aren't the kind of people who let bad drama get them down and the brawl is now just part of their wedding story and something they laugh about. The interview below is Meggen's part of the story…

I didn't even want a wedding. Jake came from parents who had both been married several times, and he wanted this wedding to show our love. He wanted it to be a statement to show this is real and that I am the love of his life.

I just never felt into my wedding until I met my photographer. My mom was also so excited and I am so lucky she never gave up on me. She knew, due to the family issues going on, that I just wasn't happy. She kept pushing and ultimately she gave us a beautiful wedding. Honestly if it wasn't for our photographer Carrie, too, I don't know if I would have seen the bright side.

Get out the popcorn for this wedding day brawl story as seen on @offbeatbride
Mostly it was happy times like these…

So a wedding day brawl happened… tell us about it.

There is a lot of drama on my husband's side of the family.  Basically, I don't get along with my mother-in-law and two of her daughters. They showed up an hour before the wedding was over after being no longer invited. When they showed up, they all hesitantly greeted me, but one of Jake's sister's started out right away with the drama. Luckily after I walked away, my family, who knew what might happen, all surrounded me ready to step in.

My family and friends all kept asking me what they could do to help. Should they walk his mom to her car and tell her to leave? For about 15 minutes I kept my cool, kind of. His mom was telling guests that she loves her son so much and how proud she is of him, but she doesn't agree with his choices. This was in direct opposition to how she's previously talked about Jake.

When it came to a head, there was a big crowd around us and we told his mother that she needed to leave. She became very confrontational, and after a few loud words, Jake told his mom to leave. But that didn't happen. She went outside with her daughters stood in the parking lot saying nasty things for about 20 minutes. She was telling people I was a witch, and that I cursed her family with black magic.

Thankfully, both sides of our families all went outside and just surrounded us with love. His mom and sisters finally left after causing one hell of a scene. The funny thing is that no one really cared what she was saying. Most of our guests just laughed and told me to not let this hurt us.

Get out the popcorn for this wedding day brawl story as seen on @offbeatbride
Wait, WHO was doing the black magic?

Was it difficult to make the decision to not invite someone to your wedding?

We did invite them initially. We asked for them to come, to be nice, make no drama, and to be on good behavior. We also asked that they not bring anyone else — no boyfriends, friends, and people we didn't know coming with them. That caused a huge fight because they saw it as controlling and thought we had no right to ask that.

How does it feel to have someone crash your wedding?

Why did someone come with bad intentions? Why did they have to start a fight? But, eventually it became funny. We laugh about how I supposedly practice black magic and curse people. Really though, it brought out the love I forgot our family had. My whole family and Jake's other family showered us with love. It was an amazing feeling just knowing how many people stood with us. They came at a perfect time because it was the end of our wedding, it was just close family left, and whatever they were trying to prove failed.

How did you feel about having the situation photographed?

Carrie only got my sister-in-law getting in my face and that's about it. But they are really funny photos. Because my face is so funny. I kind of wished she would have gotten more shots, but at the same time I don't want to remember yelling at my mother-in-law to leave. Also Carrie justifiably didn't want to have someone punch her over the photos. 

Get out the popcorn for this wedding day brawl story as seen on @offbeatbride
“Choosing a side” takes on a whole new meaning here

Do you wish it never happened or consider it part of the story of your wedding day?

Ironically, it's become a good memory. Our wedding brought us a new sister who we love and her husband, a new pair of grandparents, a fun new uncle and aunt, and brought my family closer.

So that's how the wedding day brawl went down. I remember Meggen's wedding party having to hold her back and how the vibe of the entire event just changed. I'm also so glad they showed up after all the main events. I learned a lot about where I stand in terms of photographing these moments and weighing the risk factors involved, and I learned a lot about how families pull together and move on.

My advice if you've got this level of family drama at your wedding is to just embrace that it might happen and that it won't ruin your day if you don't let it.

Here are some more advice for avoiding family drama and wedding crashers…

Keep guests informed of your no-fighting policy

A warning on your wedding website can be a life-saver:

Know when to grieve

Sometimes it's all about the emotional support:

Know when to uninvite

Other times it's all about making sure you avoid the situation entirely:

Are you anticipating any of your own family drama?

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Comments on …Because sometimes you have a wedding day brawl (+ some wedding crasher tips!)

  1. I’m sorry that happened, you all handled it very gracefully, and this is very good advice, but I came here to say THAT DRESS THO

  2. We eloped to avoid a lot of family drama, & had a same day casual reception so that family could attend – and if there was drama THERE, we were ready to face it. We were married!

    My parents were never married and their relationship has been 20 years of on again- off again verbally abusive dating, with a really bad break up that involved a death threat, two restraining orders, and a suicide watch. Since some issues of mental illness are also thrown in there, it gets really complicated emotionally for my brother and I. In addition, my husband’s family would NOT allow us to not invite his sisters boyfriend, who is controlling and demanding of my sister in law in a way that is infuriating and creepy. And the cherry: my husband’s family doesn’t really like me all that much anyway – I’m not traditional enough.

    SO: I never wanted a wedding to begin with, an especially not one where my family (who love and support us but just cannot be in the same room together) was uninvited but my husband’s family was there. We decided to elope with a tight knit group of friends present, and have a same day reception that we put as little importance on as possible – that way, family member doesn’t attend (one didn’t)? No big deal! Mom shows up 2 hours late, hungover as all get out, and sulks outside the whole time? Meh! My husband’s family never said a word to me the whole reception – I’m busy anyway! Nasty boyfriend came anyway? Oh well!

    We did warn family that we would be eloping before the reception, just to give them time to air their frustrations in advance. My husband’s family was livid with us for about a month after & made weird comments that “maybe his next wedding can be different”, but we have nothing but happy memories of our day. We had such a loving group of friends at the ceremony, and they in turn were incredibly helpful distracting and diffusing situations during our reception.

    • “maybe his next wedding can be different” <– ugh, that's completely inappropriate. I wish in-laws would keep those kind of thoughts to themselves!

  3. Eloping this year just because of family drama. My family is small and divided; this comes from my parent’s divorce when I was small…everyone took a side. To this day, my parent’s cannot be in the same room as one another without them verbally assaulting one another (i.e graduations, birthdays etc). However my FH’s family is massive. He has aunts and uncles who have several children and they have several children. However, the only person I don’t get along with is my future MIL. My FH has a son from a previous relationship and up until the time we got engaged she kept making subtle hints that I was just a phase in her son’s life and he’ll soon get back together with his ex. This didn’t happen and she spites me for it. I guess I’m a witch too 😛

  4. Wow! I am so sorry that you guys had to go through that, but it seems like you were able to find the positive and the funny in it and that’s awesome. Also, I second GraceFact, THAT DRESS!!

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