Wedding Planning With Divorced Parents

Many of our Pittsburgh divorce clients report that their divorce and custody issues don’t end when the divorce is final. Even if you’re long divorced, when your children announce that they’re getting married, old wounds can be opened a new. With the divorce rate lingering around 50 percent, today’s brides and grooms are often faced with the trials and tribulations of planning a wedding where one or both sets of parents are divorced. Even Hollywood has picked up on the fiasco with a new film opening this weekend, “The Big Wedding.” In the movie, Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton play the divorced parents of a groom-to-be and the audience follows the family through the tense, yet hilarious, lead up to the big day.

The challenge of dealing with divorced parents can come up on a daily basis when planning a wedding. Whether it’s how to word the invitation or who will walk the bride down the aisle, there’s scarcely a wedding plan that doesn’t involve some maneuvering to accommodate everyone. The tension can run especially high in instances when parents are still estranged and find it difficult to even be in the vicinity of their former spouse. Seasoned wedding planners report horror stories like divorced parents who refuse to stand in the same picture together with their son or daughter. Things can get even stickier when a parent has re-married after the divorce and a new step-mom or step-dad is suddenly in the picture – literally.

But not all parents put their egos first when it comes to their son or daughter’s wedding. Though it can be a difficult experience, many divorced parents work together to find a way to put their differences aside and celebrate their child’s big day. Open communication about potentially worrisome situations is key – planning ahead of time can ease the tension when it comes time to decide on the wording for the invitations and assemble the receiving line. For brides and grooms, managing parents’ expectations is also key. From the very start, each parent’s role should be clearly defined and the focus should remain on the bride and groom.

Some clever brides have shared their solutions for common problem areas:

  • Who walks the bride down the aisle, her biological father or her step-father? This most often depends on the kind of the relationship the bride has had with the two. However, some brides have opted for both, or eliminated the choice all together by choosing the groom as their escort.
  • How do you word the invitations if both sets of parents are divorced? Gone are the days of strict etiquette when it comes to wedding invitations! Many brides opt to forego the carefully wording and choose, “Together with their families” as an all-inclusive alternative to naming parents individually.
  • Who pays for what? Traditionally, the bride’s parents were responsible for nearly all of the wedding costs, but times have changed and so have the way weddings get paid for. Many brides and grooms are shouldering the cost of their wedding themselves, while others are crowd-sourcing the event. The important thing to remember is that there are no rules when it comes to funding the big day, just be sure to thank everyone who contributes!
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