Wedding etiquette is already pretty tricky to navigate. Throw in divorced parents – and the added drama – and things can get awkward. While each family and each situation is unique, we’ve got some helpful tips for you so you can remain calm.
The best advice we could give you is to give each parent a task that they can run with. Let these tasks be things that don’t require them to work together. Things like helping you make food and music choices. Allow each parent to really own their task so they know they’ve contributed something special to your big day.
Paying for the wedding
This is kind of an awkward topic, even if you’ve each got parents who are still married. Talking about money and expectations should not be avoided. However, your divorced parents don’t need to know what the other is contributing financially. Let this info remain confidential.
Traditionally, the front row is reserved for the parents, then the second row is for grandparents and siblings, etc. If you find yourself in a pickle because your parents don’t want to sit together, there are a couple of things you could do. The parent you feel closest to could sit in the front row and the other parent could sit in the second or third, along with their partner. You could put mom on the one side and dad on the other. The further apart they are, the better.
Alternatively, you could mix it up altogether and have no assigned seating. Let them arrive and sit where they want.
Walking down the aisle
You might feel like you’re closer to your stepfather and you’d prefer to have him walk you down the aisle. There’s a lot to consider, and it really all boils down to your circumstances. Do you have a relationship with your own dad? Do the two dads get along with one another?
We actually wrote a blog post about this to help you out: Does My Dad Have to Walk Me Down the Aisle?
You could totally avoid the whole ‘lets pose together’ thing and scrap the traditional family photos. If you’d really like them, there are a couple of options. Either get photos with your mom and stepfather and separate photos with your dad and stepmother. Or you could get both of your biological parents to pose together on either side of you and your partner.
Tradition says that the bride and groom should have both sets of parents at the main table. We’re all for throwing tradition out the window. If you don’t think your parents can cope with this – or if there are too many step parents in the mix to make this work – don’t have any of your parents at the main table. Invite your bridal party to the main table, or have a small two-seater table just for the two of you!
Talk it out
We recommend not avoiding a potentially awkward situation. Have a few serious conversations with your parents and step parents so that they all know that they are required to behave and act like adults at your wedding. Set out your expectations and let them know the practicalities, such as where they’ll be sitting, who they’ll be sitting with, and who is walking you down the aisle.
Include your wedding planner, photographer and Maid of Honour in the conversations so that everyone knows what to expect. Your photographer can help keep everybody calm during family photos, your wedding planner can make sure everyone gets seated where they need to be, and your Maid of Honour will be there to hand you a drink if it all gets a little chaotic.
Consider their feelings
At the end of the day, you’ve got at least two parents who love you and want you to have the best day of your life. Try your best to enjoy this day with all of them! You might get so caught up in your wedding planning that you forget how hard it is for your parents to be in the same room and put a smile on their faces. Keep reminding them just how happy you are to have them both at your wedding!
Main image credit: Patrick Ryan Photography | A Wedding Centred Around the Love of Music
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Kelly is a former wedding planner and a lover of anything pink. She believes that any bride can plan her own wedding, with a few tips and helpful tools.