Most often people think arguments that escalate into physical altercations at weddings happen only to “those type of people”. This theory couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is with just a little bit of intoxication coupled with quickly fused tempers, physical fights can happen at ANY wedding among ALL types of people at ANYTIME.
So what do you do? Try and break it up yourselves? Expect the Building or Banquet Hall Manager to handle it? Or do you simply call the police? First, let’s talk about how this usually all begins….
Let’s face it, the wedding day, although a joyous occasion, is filled with free booze. A LOT of free booze. Free booze that most guests are overly-willing and equally anxious to consume at ridiculous levels. So the results are very inebriated guests. And with 100+ people at your wedding, there is gong to be at least two people who a). have had waaay too much to drink and b). don’t quite get along with each other.
The last wedding venue I planned at, a group of groomsmen, about ten deep, came mobbing down the stairs, way too hot under their tux’s collars, and barking about someone they perceived was getting dangerously close to being out of line. It was obvious they had all been drinking (of course), and although they weren’t quite drunk, they still had a whole lotta fightin’ spirit ready to be unleashed. I remember thinking “If this continues, things are not going to turn out well“. (Thank God, no fight occurred, just a lot of chest-puffing I suppose.)
Anyway, see what I mean? Things could’ve gotten really ugly. Although it’s impossible to predict if a fight will occur, there are some things you can do that can at least minimize, if not completely diffuse, any threat or risk to the safety of both your guests and your wedding. The following is a list of proactive measures you can take to avoid a brawl on your wedding day.
1. Don’t seat people angry with each other at the same table – Your wedding is not the time nor place to get people to make amends by seating them together when they hate each other and haven’t spoken in years. Do not use your wedding as a “kumbaya” moment; keep guests who are angry at each other separated at different tables. If they choose to use your day as a time of reconciliation that’s fine, but do not initiate such instance. Let them reach peace-making on their own terms.
2. Have rowdy and/or intoxicated guests removed immediately– This has to be handled quietly and inconspicuously as to not cause attention or distraction to your wedding. Granted they’ll be pissed, but who cares, they’re drunk, unruly, and shouldn’t be allowed to jeopardize the safety of your other guests. We’ll talk about who should do this in a minute.
3. Monitor the guest list – Beware of wedding crashers – It’s usually not your guests who act up, but rather the guest of a guest, which I know, is some nerve. But it’s true, and since they don’t know you, they have no interest in whether your wedding day is ruined by their outrageous behavior or not. Ensure your wedding planner has a full guest list of everyone who was extended a formal invitation.
4. Give a “watch list” of guests who may need to be monitored to your wedding planner – You know who they are– they drink to the point of excess at all functions, then get belligerent and insulting. Those folks need to be pointed out to your wedding planner before-hand in the event they decide to act out.
5. Retain security – Every time I talk to someone about wedding security, they look at me with great surprise. Usually people think such security measures are reserved for only the rich and famous. But the same theory applies to everyone. Nestor J. Anavitate, Principal of Base One Security, suggests hiring private event security to deter misbehaving guests. Private security offers low-profile presence (sans uniform, just suits to blend in) with situation-specific training. Private security can also:
- Remove unruly guests or crashers from the premise – Private event security staff are trained in the art of “soft physical force”, and can escort individuals from the premise without causing a scene. They are trained how to handle conflicts and can resolve confrontations professionally and quickly. Such confrontations will be unbeknownst to your guests. They can also effectively communicate with the police, if need be.
- “Cut off” overly-intoxicated guests from the bar – Have your bartenders alert the security staff immediately if a guest is drunk and out of control.
- Instruct wait staff to notify the security staff if an escalation begins. That way security can interevene to resolve the problem before it turns physical.The good news is fighting at weddings is very rare, so your day will probably be brawl-free! But remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! So hire a wedding planner and event security for a truly peaceful wedding day!