It’s Not Just the Virus…

The struggle to have safe gatherings is on-going, as the pandemic is far from tamed. The struggle to unite our country continues as well. But there are other struggles, more personal, within many families. The concept of the dysfunctional family has become a bit of a joke because everyone thinks their family is “not normal.” But what is “normal” anyway? For those with addiction issues, it’s no joke, and for the many families dealing with mental health, addiction or developmental issues, these circumstances may impact any important event, especially a wedding.

With much-needed attention being given to our nation’s opioid crisis, we are more aware than ever that so many are abusing drugs. Couples planning a wedding have cause to worry about family members who are struggling with these or other issues that may impact their peace of mind and the event itself. 

Be aware of the things that trigger negative behaviors. For those in recovery, weddings can also be stressful. They may not want to be around alcohol, which seems to be such a big part of many celebrations. Some recovering alcoholics would prefer not to be around people who are drinking. Others feel differently. And alcohol can also be a trigger for drug use. 

One question to consider is: Do you want to have a “sober” wedding? An open bar with drinks freely flowing is probably not the best idea for anyone just embarking on their journey of sobriety. It’s like flaunting temptation. If you want alcohol at your wedding, but are concerned about it, consider having table service instead. It’s more discreet than folks hanging around a bar. Have plenty of non-alcohol options and make them obvious. 

Photo Credit: Rhinehart Photography

It’s a difficult decision whether or not to invite a friend or family member who could become out-of-control.  An honest discussion with the person may be possible, but because so many addicts are in denial, it might not work. Choosing not to invite someone, especially someone close to you, is a heart-wrenching decision. You don’t want to have regrets or second guess yourself after the fact, but either way, you probably will. 

Important questions arise around  your willingness to adjust your event to compensate for someone else’s issues in general. Some examples: Would that non-alcohol event be ok with you? Would a smaller, more casual afternoon wedding work better, be less stressful? Would you choose a no-children wedding if there are young ones you don’t want there? Would you be willing to provide services or help for those with special needs? Are you afraid the person in question will make a “scene?” Assigning someone to keep an eye on the person is a burden that doesn’t seem fair. 

photo credit: Rhinehart Photography

It’s not uncommon for one partner to be concerned about someone, while the other partner thinks it’s “no big deal.” Try to understand and acknowledge that there really is no way to know what will happen, and in a way, you are both right.

If the couple getting married are in recovery, either one or both partners, there are ways to celebrate that accomplishment. I have had several clients share those stories with me and we created interesting, sensitive and meaningful ways to touch on that in the ceremony.

One of my favorite ways to honor a sober couple is with a water ritual. I have also written an adaptation of the Serenity Prayer for use in a wedding ceremony. [move up] Support someone dealing with addiction or mental health issues, don’t be afraid to bring up the subject. Congratulate them on the hard work it takes, as they walk a healthier path. 

There is no one answer, and no right answer, to these tricky situations. I hope these questions and considerations will help you think through the challenges, if you have these concerns about your big day….or any day.

Find me on facebook – Lois Heckman, Celebrant, and Instagram – Lois Heckman

This entry was posted in Wedding Ceremonies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives