Wedding Wednesday: Wedding Day Drama

Happy Wednesday yall! Today we’re covering the most fun topic to dish about but the LEAST fun to deal with when you’re planning your wedding… DRAMA! Look, I’ll just say from the get-go, a little bit of wedding stress and drama is inevitable. There are too many moving parts for things to just go smoothly for everyone. However, there are plenty of ways to avoid common pitfalls as well as get through a tense situation without losing your damn mind! There are, on occasion, situations so far-fetched and beyond your control that nothing and no one could stop them. I’ve experienced a lot of them and many of you have too, so we’ll definitely be covering lots of wedding horror stories that hopefully won’t happen to you (and just entertain you instead)!

Pre-Wedding Drama

The Wedding Party

Wedding Party or Wedding Poopers?

Almost inevitably, someone will be mad about not being asked to be in the wedding party. This is a really common thing that causes drama right from the get-go. You would think that people would be happy for you and excited to celebrate with you in any capacity, right? Um, WRONG. To some people, your wedding day is more about them than it is about you and they will do everything they can to take a larger role in it. 

If it’s clear someone is pissed off or feeling left out, you can go one of two ways; face the issue head-on and explain why they weren’t chosen, or ignore it and judge them forever on their self-centered attitude.

Jealous Friends

Another thing that comes up a lot is Jealous Friends.

This one is really common too, especially if your friends aren’t married or have been dating their current partner for a while. A wedding is love and light and beauty and excitement and some people cannot handle seeing all of that happen for someone else when it isn’t happening for them.

This comes out in a lot of ways; they make a big fuss about when/where/how much to bach party is, they don’t make the time to go dress shopping with you or shoot down your choices, they cling to you so no one else gets your attention. However they show it, we are NOT here for that behavior.

When you see someone sulking around your wedding events, not pitching in, or passive-aggressively trying to sabotage your moments the best course of action is to have a direct conversation. You can be empathetic towards their feelings, and maybe being heard is all they need to move forward, but if there is resistance on their part you can kindly let them know that you’re glad to remove them from the bridal party if it would make them feel better. This usually puts it into perspective for people.

Funky Family

Doggy Drama: “Why isn’t anyone paying attention to me?”

Something that I, unfortunately, see a lot is discrimination against LGBTQ, Black, Fat, or Poly partners. Sometimes you’ll see family that flat-out refuses to come to your wedding. This is a really really hard one because obviously there are a lot of emotions tied up in weddings and family and all that. I can’t tell you how to feel about it, but I can say that, generally, you probably don’t want someone to come to your wedding if they don’t genuinely want to be there, whether that’s family or not. You’re speaking vows of everlasting love to your partner in front of the community of people who you task with supporting you in your relationship. Sometimes members of our family are not a part of that community. But the good news is your chosen family, friends, and the like, are sure to take really good care of you and hopefully show you how special and supported you are.

Some people will also have issues with no kids/no plus ones. Like I’ve said previously, the average cost per guest at a wedding in CA is about $300 and that usually doesn’t go down for kids. If you’re content having just your family or guests without SOs and kids, then DO THAT. It is not your job to shell out hundreds of dollars because someone is too focused on themselves to understand why you might be making those choices. You are beholden to no one. Don’t let them win. 

Delay, Postpone, or Cancelations

It’s just you and me babe.

Sometimes these things happen last minute. Say, the groom sleeps with a bridesmaid the night before the wedding or someone gets cold feet. I’ve not personally seen this happen, but in these cases, you’re just going to have to wing it and go with the flow.

I read a story a while ago about a bride whose groom left her at the alter and, instead of simply canceling, she ended up taking all the catering and floral to a homeless shelter and passing it out. She turned the worst moment of her life into something beautiful.

I’ve also seen a bride take her photographer and her dress and invites and burn it all instead of getting married. So… different strokes.

So, once you survive the pre-wedding drama, you best get ready for all the super fun WEDDING DAY DRAMA you’re going to encounter!

One of my biggest pet peeves of mine if family members who don’t like one another and act like it the entire time. If their hatred for their ex or cousin or whoever turns them into a petulant child that can’t even stand next to them in a family photo, they’re being selfish and petty and they should consider therapy. On your day you can avoid drama by making a detailed family photo list with their portraits being spaced out super far and seating them at tables across the room from one another. You can also be direct and honest and tell them to quit being so selfish and put on their adult pants for the day.

Not Enough Helping Hands

Sometimes as the day is progressing, you realize there are Not Enough Helping Hands. What to do?!?

Why wedding gods, whyyyyyyy?

This can be avoided in the first place by chatting with your venue and your wedding planner about staffing needs the day of. DIY weddings especially can turn into a shit show if you don’t plan ahead and give everyone a job they can handle. No one wants to be held back at the end of the night cleaning tables while everyone else heads out to the after-party.

A friend of mine told me about a fairly unorganized wedding where she had to walk through a field in the scorching heat in her formal wedding attire to release a goat from the adjacent farm who was stuck in a fence and SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER right before the ceremony took place. This should have been a venue staff issue I think, but she took the fall and apparently was given a light smattering of applause upon her return to the ceremony. 


Post ceremony, Toasts are a funny thing because people generally fear public speaking but somehow LOVE to overshare during toasts.

I’ve witnessed toasts that have gone on for 20 minutes or more with no end in sight. I’ve seen bridesmaids crying so hard they couldn’t get their words out, and not really in a cute way. Someone I know listened to a bridesmaid talk about how the bride and groom met, which just happened to be when he cheated on said bridesmaid with the bride at a group camping trip two years prior. Apparently, no details were spared. I’ve watched people propose to their significant other while giving a toast at someone else’s wedding. For those of you know don’t know, taking the focus off the couple’s special day is not generally the point of a toast (unless previously discussed and agreed upon). A friend of mine told me of a toast where the mother of the groom gave the bride an “heirloom gift” that had been “passed down from generation to generation” only to pull out a set of blue bedazzled nipple tassels. No one laughed. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard phrases like “when you inevitably get divorced”, “after their last few relationships ended horribly, I was sure this one would too”, or “now start making grandchildren!”. One bridesmaid talked about how shitty the groom was. For like… ten minutes. With no endearing punchline.

The lesson here? Toasts are like children, you want them short, sweet, and to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Drunk Guests and Wild Wedding Party Members

Alright. Now we’re getting into the real stuff: Drunk Guests and Wild Wedding Party Members.

Booty, booty, booty booty rockin’ everywhere!

As you can imagine, this is probably the most common start to a wedding shit show. It goes like this: “Everyone was just having a really good time, drinking and dancing, but then (blah blah blah) got kind of out of hand and that’s when XYZ happened.” That’s literally the basis of 90% of wedding reception drama. Because this is so common, I’m just going to just reel off a list of things people have done that I have both personally witnessed or have heard about firsthand from someone else:

  • One time the groom at a wedding I was shooting tried to pick up the bride during their first dance, fell over, and managed to knock her front tooth out.
  • Wedding crashers came in and won the garter toss, resulting in the bride crying and the groom calling security to have them escorted out.
  • A groomsman pretended to have broken his ankle the week of the wedding and then showed up to the wedding without any kind of injury saying that he thought dealing with that issue would take the bride’s mind off the other stressful parts of the wedding. (Spoiler alert, it was my wedding. And it was our best man.)
  • A groomsman once asked a friend of mine to take photos of him wanking off in the bathroom “as a joke” for the couple.
  • There was a fight. Any fight. All the fights begin with the wedding party. I’ve seen a fight over a bridesmaid between her ex and current boyfriend where someone was sucker punched and the cops were called. I’ve seen a fight between the bride and groom that resulted in the lavish and expensive reception ending early. A friend of mine had to physically restrain a bridesmaid because she caught her bf sleeping with another bridesmaid.
  • Oh! And let’s not forget that when people are drinking they somehow think it’s ok to be vulgar, mean, SUPER sexist, and occasionally racist. My friend is Mexican and had slurs thrown at her by a drunken guest and I cannot count on two hands how many times I’ve been groped while shooting open dancing.
  • Sparkler mishaps are also insanely common. I’ve been burned, I’ve watched a bride’s veil get singed, and a friend of mine witnessed a sparker entrance where one of the groomsmen thought it would be funny to mess around and burned full-on holes in the bride’s dress before the reception even started.
  • And let’s not even talk about how many times people have tried to leave the wedding in their own vehicles after stumbling out to the parking lot. And, of course, lose their shit on anyone who tries to stop them from driving drunk.

Needless to say, drinking is usually the catalyst of these issues but sometimes the wedding buzz just makes people CRAY CRAY.

General Insanity

(just for shits and giggles!)

I’ve been a wedding planner, hair stylist, makeup guru, therapist, hype team, negative energy blocker, object of affection, or “hey you, come do this thing” at every single wedding I’ve shot. One time, the hair stylist claimed she “didn’t know how to style clip-in hair extensions” and just stopped working on the bride’s hair. They were literal human hair clip-ins but she refused. I ended up doing the bride’s hair in its entirety.

I get called bossy, a lot. And they’re fuckin’ right I am because I have a job to do. 😉

Photographers get a lot of, what we like to call, Uncle Bob’s. Uncle Bob used to be a photographer or recently picked up his first DSLR and is fairly certain he can get better photos of them walking down the aisle or during the first kiss than you can and he’s willing to push you out of the way to prove it.

One time I was at a wedding on a 105-degree day with multiple locations and no shade. After the ceremony, the caterers refused to serve us before the guests even though it was written in my contract in order to ensure we were ready to work when the couple has finished eating and the toasts starts. Instead, they went around to all the tables after the guests had eaten the family-style dishes, scraped it all onto one big plastic serving tray, and gave it to us. We were literally eating guest scraps. Not cool.

A friend of mine did a wedding where the groom was WASTED before the 10:00 am ceremony, he kept drinking, wouldn’t cooperate through the photos, and pissed off his bride so much that she just stormed out and didn’t come back. Major party foul.

I have people touch my equipment ALL. THE. TIME. They pick my cameras up by the lenses and ask if they can take photos without realizing that they’re holding about $5000 worth of equipment and my entire livelihood in their drunk sweaty hands.

A wedding coordinator friend of mine had a homeless man run into the fire exit of a wedding and grab a handful of cake before the reception. She just turned the cake around so the chunk wasn’t visible and no one was the wiser.

So there we go guys, there’s the 411 on wedding drama! The tea has been spilled!

Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s edition of ‘the petty photographer’. lol In all seriousness, wedding drama can be a pain but in the end, it can also be kind of funny. 😊 Be sure to join me next week for Wedding Wednesdays where we’ll be chatting about wedding resources for LGBTQ couples! Make sure you’ve given my IG, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and this Blog a follow under the tag @LoveKEPhoto so you can stay up to date on everything KEP!

About Kate

Kate Cohen (she/her) is an International LGBTQIA+ wedding photographer based in Northern California who is focused on storytelling, candid captures, and iconic portraits of couples all over the globe.

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