Wedding Wednesdays Q&A: How to Deal with Divorced Parents at a Wedding

Wedding Wednesdays Q&A answered by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events

Q:  My parents are divorced.  My dad is remarried and my mother has a boyfriend.  While I get along with my parents and their respective significant others, they don’t get along with each other.  To make matters more complicated, my fiancé’s parents are also divorced and also don’t get along with each other.  While I’m excited about the wedding and I want them all there, I’m also really nervous.  How is this all going to work?  How do I make this work?

Thank you for sharing your situation and your question.  I know this is a really sensitive situation.  And there is a lot of emotion wrapped up into it.  You’re happy and excited, but you’re understandably worried about what could happen with divorced parents.

So, first off, while divorced parents can be a bit of a nightmare with you in the middle, keep in mind that they love you.  No matter what else is going on, they love you.  They ALL love you.

And because they love you, they’re going to be on their best behavior.  Because unless you have particularly selfish parents, they don’t want to ruin your wedding day.  They want you to be happy.  And they know that requires them to be happy and not fighting.

With that being said, it doesn’t hurt for you to take some precautions.  It can only help make you feel better and ensure a happy wedding day.

Bride and groom kissing on the beach at their Hawaii wedding by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: What a Day! Photography)

Where to start

So, I’d start by having a conversation.  It will be uncomfortable for sure, but have it.  Sit down with them, all individually and discuss not only their involvement in the planning (and how involved you want them to be), but your request.

And what’s your request?  That they try not to fight for your sake.  That it would make you happy if they could just be happy and excited for you.

Tell them that you love them and that it’s important they’re all a part of your wedding.  But, you need them to be civil.  They don’t have to be best friends, just civil.  If they love you (and they do), they’ll agree.

Groom and the father of the groom having a moment together before the ceremony at a Hawaii wedding on the Big Island by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Emily Piraino)

During the planning

Then when it comes to the planning itself, involve them as much or as little as you want.  But, if you involve them, keep them separate.  Maybe your mom comes dress shopping with you, and your dad helps pick the wine.

Don’t force them to work together or talk to each other if they don’t have to.  It will just be easier if they’re separate.  And keep it all happier.

But, if there is an instance where your parents need to be working together, give them a heads up.  That way they can prepare and know what they need to do.

As you’re working through things like invitations, dances and your ceremony, you may run into some sticky situations.  If so, do what will make you happy and will cause you the least amount of stress.

And if you really want something to happen that could be a problem, talk to your parents about it and see if they’re on board.

Mother of the bride helping the bride get ready on her wedding day by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Andria Lo Weddings)

On your wedding day

And then most importantly, on your wedding day, be very careful how you seat them.  Think about both your ceremony and reception.

Strategically place your parents so that they don’t have to sit next to each other.  Create some buffer if they’re in the same row or on the same table.  But, if you can pick different rows and different tables for all of them, that’s even better.

Once again, this just makes it easier for them to be civil.  The less interaction they have to have, the easier it will be for them.  And thus, happier for you.

One issue you may run into with this is fairness.  You don’t want one parent to feel like they aren’t as important.  So, try to be as equal as you can in terms of placement so that everyone feels like they’re close to you.

And if you can’t be equal, just do your best.  And then you can let them know ahead of time and explain the situation so they aren’t surprised.

Bridal processional with her parents at Chapel of our Lady for a San Francisco wedding by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Jerry Yoon Photographers)

I know dealing with divorced parents is not easy.  And planning a wedding while having to keep your parents and their issues in mind is just one more thing to worry about.  But, if you take precautions and try to make it as easy as you can for them, it will make it easier for you.

And then you can have them involved, but do it in a way that keeps everyone happy.

Do you have a wedding planning question?  Let us know in a comment below and we’ll answer it in an upcoming post.

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