Your engagement and upcoming wedding may be the most exciting time in your life. For months, you’ll have myriad people gushing and asking to see the ring, what your living situation is, what colors you want for your wedding, your theme, your dress or tux, your partner, and all things lovable and passionate … except maybe your divorced parents. Whether you’re the bride or the groom, dealing with divorced parents at your wedding is tricky, awkward, and can be an extremely emotional ordeal. After all, the last thing you want to do is exclaim your celebrations of everlasting love to parents who have lost their personal vows of forever.
Obviously, this depends on what type of breakup your parents had. Perhaps you are one of the lucky few whose parents ended their marriage on a “co-parenting/still friends” basis. But let’s face it, if you have odds like that, you should probably go buy a lottery ticket!
How to have a hassle-free wedding with divorced parents present
So how do you handle breaking the news, planning your wedding, and celebrating your nuptials without stepping on parental toes? Keep reading to find out.
#1 Be careful about who share your engagement with first. Are your parents super sensitive people or extremely catty towards the other parent? If so, you might want to think long and hard about who you’re going to share your engagement with first.
Are your parents the type to bicker amongst themselves but will behave in public? If so, you might want to consider doing the old “tell all the parents at the same time” bit. Telling both of your parents at the same time you tell your in-laws kind of forces them to be on their best behavior. Sneaky!
#2 Mom and dad + date? So you’re sending out invitations and then the dreaded question comes up… Should you invite your parents with a plus one? The subject can be tricky, especially for those with very religious backgrounds or parents who went through an extremely painful divorce. For example, would you invite your father’s new wife or girlfriend if she’s the same woman he left your mother for?
Before making any choices, talk to you partner and decide together as a couple what seems like the best idea. Regardless of your decision, approach each parent separately, and explain your reasoning. Do you think there’d be a problem if they brought a date? Is it welcoming unnecessary drama? Would you be game for inviting them to the wedding ceremony, but not the reception – or vice versa? Discuss the appropriate solution with your partner, and hope you made the right choice!
#3 We’re all family once the knot is tied – seating the family. This became a gigantic issue at my own wedding, wherein my husband’s parents were divorced and just on the cusp of bitter. While they seemed cordial if not downright friendly in situations that revolved around my husband, around the time of our wedding, my husband’s father had begun seeing a woman. Add that to the fact that their extended families always seemed to be on the cusp of feuding.
The solution? Go casual with your seating. Instead of going with arranged seating, have a giant, gorgeous sign that reads: “Choose a seat, not a side. We’re all family once the knot is tied!” This way, everyone is responsible for their own seating arrangements, and nobody gets stuck with someone they can’t stand. It worked wonders for my wedding!
#4 Don’t ignore those touching parental rights. While you may want to crawl into a hole and pretend your parents get along like peaches and cream, you shouldn’t pretend that they don’t exist. For example, on your “save the date” or wedding invitations, the parents of the bride and groom are usually mentioned. Give your parents their due respect by not excluding them from this right.
And remember, your parents aren’t together anymore – so don’t pretend they are! When writing down your parents “presenting” on your invitation, don’t write “Mr. and Mrs. Blank.” Instead, write their names out separately, and be sure to use your mother’s maiden name.
Another example of not ignoring your parent’s involvement in your wedding means not excluding them from their dance! That means the daddy-daughter dance, or alternatively, if the divorced couple is your husband’s parents, the mother of the groom dance should not go ignored! Also, your father should be the one to walk you down the aisle, no matter how your mother feels about it.
#5 Remember: this is about you and your future spouse. Your parents are adults, even if they don’t act like it sometimes. If you feel the situation is starting to get out of hand pre-wedding, sit each parent down and explain to them that you need them to be the bigger person and respect the fact that this is your special day, which you want to spend drama free!