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Bridal Club Magazine

What To Do With Your Divorced Parents On Your Wedding Day

Recently we had questions raised in our Discussion Forum concerning divorced parents at weddings. If you fall into this awkward category, this month we offer you some helpful advice in handling the situation. No one knows your parents like you and your fiancé, so you will be the final judge. The foremost thing in the back of your parent's minds should be, that this day will be a very special day in your lives, your wedding. Whatever quibbles they may have should be able to be put aside momentarily. This is a day that a parent waits for with as much anticipation as the wedding couple. Hopefully your parents will do the right thing and not put up too much of a fuss. Let us help you to get you through this in the simplest way possible.

"I'm not going if she/he is!"
The worst possible case scenario - here you could try speaking to them separately, then together later on. Tell them how much you love your fiancé and both of them as parents. Your day will not be as happy if they are not there to share it with you. Let them know that this is but one day out of their lives, but it is the first day of the rest of yours. Keep calm, let them know what is on your heart and most importantly - don't yell. If they simply won't budge, the only thing to do is let one of them back down. You don't want to have to end up choosing yourself. This would indeed be a very sad outcome if it were to happen. The 'parent' in me would say 'I don't want either of you here if you can't behave yourselves'. This may be the kind of perspective shed on the situation to make them come to their senses. Maybe you could leave the option open for them to still come closer to the wedding, when they have had time to cool down and think about the 'adult' thing to do.

"I'm not going if he's bringing her!!!!"
Your father won't come if he can't bring his wife/girlfriend, he has now made his decision to bow out. Again, use the technique above and if that fails you have every right not to invite the "new better half". This is a day for family and if you're not close to your parent's new spouse/friend and their invitation will cause extra problems, then it's not worth it. Isn't it a pity how some parents don't realise that the only thing they have in common is you at this point, and they're not willing to makeup for the sorrow they caused you when they got divorced.

"No way in hell I'm sitting beside him!!!"
That's fine. Nowhere is it written that divorced parents have to sit together. In the case that they really can't stand each other, at the ceremony, your mother usually sits in the front row and your father in the row behind her. You could also separate them by seating them both in the front row with other relatives between them (like referees). At the reception, they can be seated at different tables. Seat them with people they like, they won't even notice if they're enjoying the evening.

Who is paying for what?
If you were counting on getting some financial help from your parents but now they're arguing about paying for things that will be enjoyed by ex-inlaws the day of the wedding. In this case we suggest that you pay for services that everyone uses (venue, caterer, liquor, etc.) and your parents can pay for personal services (flowers, beauty, wedding gown, limo, etc.). You could also choose to pay for the wedding yourselves and if you need financial assistance ask your parents for a cash gift instead of a washer/dryer.

You're Closer to Your Stepparent
If your stepparent is the one that raised you and the one you're closer to, they can take the natural parent's role in your wedding, i.e. planning it, walking you down the aisle, etc. If you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and everyone agrees, then both fathers can walk you down the aisle. Your biological father should be honoured to know that you respect him enough to ask even though he hasn't played a big part in your life. You can explain to your stepfather that you love him and appreciate everything he's done for you, but you just have one more little favour!!!

Who do I call first after I get engaged?
The first relative to be informed on your engagement should be your mother.

How do I word my invitation?
When your parents are divorced, it'll all comes down to "who's paying" for the wording and/or "who has raised you".

  • If your mother has not remarried and is hosting the wedding use a combination of her maiden and married name.
  • If your mother has remarried and is hosting the wedding put her remarried name on the invitation. "Mrs. (mother's first name and remarried last name)
  • If your mother and step father are hosting the wedding put "Mr. and Mrs. (his first & last name) request the honour of your presence at the marriage of her daughter's wedding."
  • Your parents will host the wedding together and your mother still uses your father's last name, "Mr. (father's first & last) and Mrs. (mother's first and maiden)" or "Mr. and Ms. (father's first and last name)
  • If your situation is very complicated or arguments are started over wording, may I suggest that the couple's invitation read as if they are hosting their own wedding

Who walks me down the aisle, father or stepfather?
Unless you haven't had any contact with your father then he gets the privilege of walking you down the aisle.

  • Etiquette states this rule, we think you should choose the man you feel the closest to.

What is the ceremony seating arrangement for divorced parents?

  • If your parents get along they can both sit in the first row.
  • If your parents don't get along, your mother sits in the first row and your father sits in the row behind her each with their spouses/dates.

What happens in the receiving line?
It is traditional that the only man in the receiving line is the groom and this idea is your best bet for divorced parents. If both parents want to be in the receiving line but don't want to stand beside each other then the line will go as follows: bride's mother, her new husband, groom's mother, groom's father, brides father and so on. For receiving line order please go to this months article 'What's The Fuss About The Receiving Line?'

Are my parents and their new spouses announced into the hall with the wedding party?
Your best bet would be to have them seated with the rest of the guests and only the newlyweds and their wedding party is announced. There is no need to bring more attention to the fact that your parents are divorced.

Do my parents have to sit at the same table at the reception?
No, but your mother will sit at the parent's table and your father's table will be beside or behind her's.

What do I do about the first dance since I'm close to both my dad and step dad?

Don't have an announced "father / daughter" dance, but be sure to dance with both men sometime during the evening.

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