The last thing you probably want to think about when you’re planning the most important day of your life is divorce. I know, it’s kind of a depressing topic, but the fact of the matter is, it affects a ton of people. On the optimistic side of things, I think it is very possible to create a positive experience while wedding planning with divorced parents. That said,
Planning a wedding with divorced parents can be hard.
This can create awkwardness during key moments during the wedding if not approached with sensitivity and open communication.
My parents had a rather acrimonious split when I was around 5 years old. I had some of these very same constraints to consider, as well as stepparents and estranged extended family members. I won’t lie, I had a few moments of real anxiety while I was planning, but in the end, all was well.
Here are a few tips that I followed to minimize the awkwardness on the big day.
Have a sit down together or with each parent separately and show them your plans
- Start the conversation well in advance of the wedding and get their input on important items like invitations, receiving lines, seating and dances. This should be a well thought out meeting, not a quick chat in passing. Be sensitive to areas where they may feel insecure. For example, if one parent is remarried and the other is single, perhaps suggest that the single parent still bring a date or a guest. Also be open and honest with your parents about items that mean a lot to you. For example, your parent may not be up for taking photos together, but they may agree to walk the bride or groom down the aisle. The key takeaway here is to listen to both parents and let them feel heard. Hopefully you will never go through a divorce, but they have and likely are feeling equal parts nervous and excited.
Keep all of your cards on the table so there aren’t any surprises on the wedding day and be firm about your own boundaries. Your comfort is important here, too.
- It’s totally okay to not want your mom’s new boyfriend to attend if your mom cheated on your dad with him. Just be sure that your mom is aware that this person is absolutely not invited out of respect for your father, so there aren’t any surprises and confrontations on the wedding day. It’s also okay to want a stepfather-daughter or stepmother-son dance if that person has played a big role in your upbringing, as long as everyone is aware in advance. Make sure both parents are aware of where they will be sitting, when in the program their speech will be and any other important details they are involved in. Keep in mind that no one likes to be caught unawares, and your wedding is a time for love, not petty revenge.
Recognize them both equally
- The thing is, even though I had mixed feelings about my parents’ approach to parenting post-divorce and their relationship with one another, they’re both my parents. I found it very important to make them both feel recognized and loved for all that they did to raise me into the person that I am today.
Divorce is tricky, and requires you to tread through your wedding planning with a ton of sensitivity. Unfortunately not every divorced family co-parents well, but following the tips above will help to minimize any discomfort all around.
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