Navigating your Wedding

With Divorced Parents

Couples Corner

Having divorced parents can possibly complicate your wedding day.

Here are some common reasons why this family dynamic, may take things for a spin.

Recently divorced parents and this is the first big event

  • In comparison to parents who divorced when their kids were younger, they have already dealt with big life milestones (i.e., graduation, engagement, birthdays, etc.), recently being divorced may mean that at least one parent may still be experiencing some sort of pain. This is common and normal; however, it is challenging when you are seeing it play out at a wedding.
how to navigate a wedding with divorced parents involved

One parent brings a date and the other parent is still upset about the divorce.

  • If you do have a parent who wants to bring a date and their relationship is not serious, consider asking them to forgo this idea, especially if the divorce is recent and the marriage perhaps ended with this other date already in the picture. This of course would be handled differently if your divorced parents have remarried.

Using alcohol as the coping mechanism.

  • Many weddings have alcohol of some sort and unfortunately, alcohol is used as coping mechanism. If there has been a negative history of alcohol use in your family and/or with your parents, consider asking a family friend to be there for your parent. You may want to be there as a support system, but you may be busy with communicating with other guests or getting through other traditional wedding activities.
how to navigate a wedding with divorced parents involved

Consider some of these tips as you prepare to tackle some of these concerns.

Bring these concerns up to your parents.

  • Have an honest conversation with them individually and if possible, be sure that it is well before your wedding day. Let them know your dreams for your big day and share your excitement with them. This is your day, to celebrate your love with your fiancé. Some things to share with your parents may be that you understand that it is hard for them to be around each other and how you can help alleviate this process. Note that you can only try to help mitigate the situation, not necessarily solve it.

Get help from family and/or friends.

  • There is no reason for you to play as the babysitter for your parents. If you are worried about inappropriate behavior by one or both of your parents, be sure to talk this over with a family friend or perhaps your wedding planner on how to go about keeping an eye out on your parents. This rarely happens, but I have heard that it can occur.
how to navigate a wedding with divorced parents involved

Plan ahead of time.

  • If you know for a fact that there is some tension between your parents, consider sitting them at different tables and on different rows at your ceremony. Think about if you are having a formal dance with your father or mother. Will this be with both of them or just one of them? Will one of them be giving a speech or neither one of them? Will they be involved in the wedding planning process or even paying for the wedding?

Do you have to invite both parents?

  • Fortunately for you, you are an adult and can make your own decision of how you want to feel on your special day. Weddings can sometimes feel like you are trying to please everyone and make everyone else happy. It does not have to be this way, it can be about you, because guess what? It is about you! It is your wedding day! If you have had a history with one of your parents that involved some sort of trauma or pain and it has not been resolved or told yourself at one point in your life, you do not want a relationship with a parent, you do not have to start on your wedding day. Weddings can already be emotional and bringing up something traumatic may not always be the best. If you do relate to this at all, I do encourage you to speak with a mental health professional. Sometimes we can bury things from our past, but then find it banging on our door the moment that we are supposed to enjoy a big and happy life event.

Tip for your fiancé

  • Let them know that it is not their job to solve your parent’s problems. These issues have been around way before the divorce even happened. Your fiancé is there to support you emotionally. Let them know what helps you in times when you are stressed out or worried. Are you the type of person who wants to share your feelings and talk it out or do you just like to acknowledge it briefly and find ways to lighten up the mood? Share this with your fiancé!
how to navigate a wedding with divorced parents involved

It is okay to find yourself confused and frustrated with this topic. Take it one step at a time and remember you do not have to do this alone. Find people in your life you can turn to and who can help.

By Priscilla Rodriguez, M.S., LMFT, Owner of Modern Wellness Counseling

Priscilla specializes in working with engaged couples and helps them learn the strategic tools needed so that they can be on the same page throughout every chapter of their lives. Be sure to check out the online premarital courses and do not forget to download the Free Conversation Checklist for Engaged Couples.






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