Weddings are a hugely stressful time for everyone, but if family relationships are already strained, it can lead to fall outs and arguments that can take a long time to recover.
Even Meghan Markle and her fairytale romance couldn’t escape the pain and drama of a family argument right before the wedding.
With Meghan’s father Thomas Markle missing her marriage to Prince Harry and repeatedly causing headlines, writer Catherine Davidson shares her own story of how her family threatened to ruin her wedding.
Here’s how she dealt with a parental fallout and stopped family estrangement ruining her big day.
It’s not easy when your family is threatening to overshadow your big day. I’ve been there.
Five years ago, I got married on a desert island off the coast of Thailand. Three years before that my mum had announced that she was separating from my dad after 30 years of marriage. Yet she continued living with my dad, and their marriage carried on as ‘normal’. My dad didn’t actually believe she’d ever leave. My mum went out in the evenings acting like she was single. I was so angry that I didn’t speak to her for a year.
I considered not inviting her to the marriage, but I knew I had to. I really hoped that there would be some kind of closure before the big day, but nothing had changed. My mum and dad even flew to Thailand on the same day, but on different flights.
I was so anxious in the upcoming days before the wedding. Should I seat them at different tables? Would they talk to each other? I was worried about their unspoken tension spoiling the day. My parents weren’t the sort for public showdowns, but their uncomfortable silences felt just as bad.
The day before the wedding we flew to the island. There were so many people around; friends and extended family. My mum and I had hardly spoken. It wasn’t the time for heart to hearts, but then late that afternoon my mum broke down crying. My aunt acted as mediator, as me and my sister and my mum talked about what was going on, and our frustrations.
Perhaps it helped a little that we all got to talk and voice our emotions, as the wedding itself went fine. It was a beautiful ceremony on the beach. My husband and I had written our own vows, and a close friend married us. A few drinks was all I needed to be blissfully unbothered about what my parents were thinking or feeling.
My advice to you, Meghan, is to put on your mental blinkers, and try not to let your thoughts run away from you. Focus on the moment, on your beautiful dress, and the beginning of a new life as a princess.
Focus on who is there, rather than who isn’t. Weddings, like life, are never perfect. There may be absent friends or family, or ones that are just a bit too present.
When you walk down the aisle, you are going to look stunning, and I hope that all of that family drama will recede into the background.
Have a stiff drink, focus on fun, and be a bit selfish! This is not a day for worrying too much about what other people are thinking or how they are feeling. Let it be their problem. This is your day. Enjoy the flash of the cameras, and your moment to shine!
We spoke to the experts about what to do if you’re uncertain how to handle divorced parents at your wedding or parents whose interfering is taking you to breaking point.
And if wedding planning is causing you stress, Mind gave us some invaluable tips on managing your stress levels.