DYSFUNCTIONAL PARENTS AT A WEDDING
I recently had a very difficult question posed to me. There were a set of parents that were incredibly angry and acrimonious with each other. There was a bitter divorce and what made this worse was that the father was a severe alcoholic who would often get aggressive, angry, and combative when drunk. The entire situation was not just dysfunctional but potentially explosive. The bride wanted both sets of parents but was terribly concerned as to how the father would behave, and how the mother would react at the wedding.
One of my first suggestions was not to serve alcohol at the Wedding. While this is normally a celebratory part of any wedding, it is not a good idea to put a smorgasbord of alcoholic drinks in front of an active alcoholic. There are many fun and very tasty drinks that are non-alcoholic and might add a bit of spice to the celebration.
Secondly, I suggested having a long talk with both parents and setting clear boundaries. The father needs to agree not to drink and come to the wedding sober. As well, a talk with the mother is in order. She needs to keep her anger in check for that one day, regardless of what happened between her and her husband (or ex-husband if that is the case.) Another idea I suggested a smaller ceremony that is more intimate and more controllable. Keep it strictly to family, and again ask that he not show up drunk. If he does, at least it's contained to a smaller group.
There are many such unfortunate scenarios, and even with the best of planning things could go very wrong in a volatile situation. The best suggestion I have is to plan carefully and make sure there are professionals available should the situation get out of hand.