Character Control: Your Guide to Troublesome Personalities

Got family members who could drink the Wests under the table? A bridesmaid that's such a control freak she puts Monica Gellar to shame? This is your must-read guide.


    Got a family that could drink the Wests under the table? A bridesmaid that's such a control freak she puts Monica Gellar to shame? This is your must-read guide.


    The Control Freak

    Monica from Friends

    Despite her good intentions, Friends character Monica Gellar’s need to be in control and her belief that ‘fun requires rules’ usually meant no fun was had at all. Shades of Monica sometimes emerge in the wedding planning process – usually in the form of family members who try to hijack organisation like a small-scale coup.

    Event planner Emma Newman has seen many cases where family members, and particularly parents, become overbearing. ‘It can be tricky if they are financially contributing to the event,’ Emma says. ‘Before you accept any money, clearly outline the parameters of their involvement and what (if any) decisions they will be entitled to.’

    Professional life designer and relationships expert Sian Jaquet says controlling parents are usually driven by a fear that the event won’t be perfect. ‘Don’t bother arguing or telling them how they make you feel as it will probably land on deaf ears,’ she says. ‘In fact, they’ll probably see it as evidence that a catastrophe will unfold if they step back even one inch.’

    To solve the problem, Sian advises minimising their involvement. ‘Discussing their role calmly and clearly with them from early on in the process can really help,’ Emma adds. ‘And if they continue to be insistent, keep reiterating the fact that it is your day.’

    An effective technique of managing the control freak is to give them a couple of specific jobs – ones that you both agree on and those you know they’re passionate about. ‘Being consolatory eases tensions,’ Emma says. ‘It’s about picking which battles are worth winning and which battles you’re willing to lose.’

    The Disorganised One

    Lauri from Cougartown

    Cougartown’s Lauri is your classic party girl, and her ability to pass off painting her nails and going shopping as part of her job is impressive. It’s fair to say reliability isn’t among her charming attributes, which makes for a great plot, but is less than ideal when you need someone like her to be your major support person in the role of bridesmaid.

    One of a bride’s biggest headaches is having a bridesmaid who doesn’t take the role seriously, so choosing the right person for the job is crucial. ‘Ask yourself whether she is truly reliable and in a place in her life where it’s realistic for her to be your bridesmaid,’ says Emma. ‘If she has a new job or a baby, for instance, her heart might not be in it.’

    And even if she is fully dedicated, it’s important not to have unrealistic expectations, Emma says. ‘Weddings have changed into a much more complicated event with a lot of things to prepare and juggle, so don’t take your bridesmaid for granted by expecting her to be your PA and help you organise every single detail of the day.’

    Also be realistic about your bridesmaid’s abilities before you assign tasks to them. As Sian points out: ‘If you’ve known her for 15 years and never saw any evidence of her organisational skills, why would you expect her to change now, just because of your wedding?’

    If you feel that your bridesmaid isn’t pulling her weight, sit down with her to discuss the role. If you want her to come to dress fittings or florist meetings with you, then tell her so, and be clear about the times and dates.

    The Ex Factor

    Philippe from Go Girls

    Who could forget the riotous moment in the hit Kiwi show Go Girls when Philippe, the enraged ex boyfriend of Cody’s husband to be, Eli, turned up outside the church threatening to ruin the wedding? That’s pretty far-fetched as far as past-partner weirdness goes, but the question of whether to invite a former partner is a real issue for some engaged couples.

    Much depends on the significance of that past relationship, Sian says. ‘If your husband to be has children with a former partner and the intention is to create a blended family, then the children are a priority and inviting the ex might be justified.’

    Communicating your thoughts and concerns with your fiancé is key. ‘The core issue is whether you can have an open and honest discussion with your future husband and feel safe in sharing any uncomfortable feelings you might have about adding an ex girlfriend to the guest list,’ Sian says. ‘If you can’t have this chat, should you really be marrying this man?’

    Emma suggests asking how he would feel if you invited an
    ex boyfriend. Or try this phrase: ‘I know you say you would like
    her there and your feelings for her are platonic, but it just makes me feel uncomfortable.’

    Having said that, also be prepared to back down if necessary.
    As Emma points out: ‘Your fiancé will be the most important person at your wedding. So is the conflict about the person in question really worth it?’

    The Dodgy Groomsman

    Charlie from Two and a Half Men

    Can there possibly be a worse candidate for a groomsman than Charlie from Two and a Half Men? We doubt it. But if your fiancé has chosen a 2IC who is equally likely to give an embarrassing speech, hit on your friends or push over the wedding cake in a drunken stupor, you have cause for concern. ‘This is your husband to be’s responsibility,’ says Sian. ‘If he chose him, he needs to manage him!’

    Emma says a great way to help control a groomsman of ill repute is to have friends and family members keep an eye on him. ‘If you feel shaming him about past bad behaviour will work, discuss your concerns with him directly, or ask someone who you think he’ll listen to, to bring it to his attention. And be very clear about what you expect from him!’

    The Diva

    Rachel from Glee

    It’s supposed to be your day, but there’s often someone else who has a go at stealing the show, because really, it’s all about them. Glee character Rachel Berry believes she’s the only one who should be in the spotlight… does that sound like anyone in your life?

    Sian sympathises: ‘At our wedding there were a few candidates who had the potential to suck up all the oxygen in the room for all the wrong reasons. My mum selected a few key family members and asked them to befriend these rogue individuals early on, and stick to them like glue all day.

    ‘Mum told one guest the day before the wedding that people were watching her and if she took one step out of line to upstage her daughter, she’d be dealt with. No-one messes with my mother!’

    If you don’t have a formidable mother to wield her influence, Emma suggests giving them a job that allows them to showcase their attention-seeking ways. ‘They could sing a song or deliver a speech, which would give them something positive to focus on.’

    The Hedonist

    Outrageous Fortune

    The much-loved local drama Outrageous Fortune brought us some gloriously debaucherous nuptials
    – Loretta and Hayden, Casey and Munter, Grandpa and Ngaire. Without exception, they resulted in serious levels of intoxication for all those involved. The Wests loved it, but excess alcohol is not everyone’s definition of a successful event. And let’s face it, having the police or ambulance turn up is not how you want the party to
    be remembered.

    ‘To prevent guests from getting out of control, be responsible for the amount of alcohol that’s available,’ Sian says. ‘There are limits as to how much you can control people if you have an open bar and an endless supply of spirits on offer. It’s like writing the script for a disastrous end to a wedding day and being surprised that people act their parts brilliantly.’

    Emma says it’s also wise to pinpoint any potential troublemakers to the MC as well as the bar staff, and ask them to intervene if need be.

    Being proactive is the best approach, Sian adds. ‘If there is someone you think will spoil the party, speak to them beforehand and tell them that if they cross the line, they’ll be asked to leave. This is your wedding and you have every right to expect guests to behave.’


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