How to Handle the Drama When One Family Isn't at the Wedding

Updated 10/19/19

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There are plenty of weddings where only one family is represented. The truth is it's not unheard of for a bride or groom to not have a single family member present on their big day.

Whatever the reason may be — death, illness, or family drama — it's important to prepare ahead of time to be sure you can enjoy your wedding day even without family present. If you are worried about the absence of family on your wedding day, plan ahead with these tips to be sure your day goes smoothly.

Ask close friends to sit in the front row.

Guests will instinctively leave the front of your venue empty to accommodate family members, but if one side will not be present you can specifically ask friends to sit in the front row. You'll be distracted when you are at the altar reading your vows and looking at your partner, but this will ensure you see a full house when you look at your guests.

Communicate with whoever will be arranging your seating.

Whether it's a wedding planner or appointed ushers, let other people be in charge of the seating so you don't have to worry about seating charts during the ceremony or reception. You have enough to worry about.

Don't seat your guests by side.

Traditionally, guests sit on one side if they are a guest of the groom and another side if they are a guest of the bride, but that doesn't mean your wedding needs to follow suit. If one side of the family won't be there, consider opting out of the tradition. It could be as simple as putting up a sign with a phrase like "There are no sides, we're all family here!" to notify guests that they can sit wherever they are the most comfortable.

Put family-related songs on your "do not play" list for the DJ or band.

To avoid awkward situations during the reception, make sure you think about the absence of family when talking to your DJ or band. Most music coordinators ask for a list of songs to not play, so that's the perfect time to opt-out of "We Are Family" or other family-related songs.

Avoid too many family toasts.

If one side is not represented, make sure there are an equal number of toasts from representatives of the bride and groom. Even if there aren't family members to speak about you or your partner, there are definitely friends who can fill in that hole.

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