Wedding Etiquette for the Divorced, Mixed and Blended Family

Taming Family Stress on Your Wedding Day

Family dynamics play a big role in your wedding celebration, and they can make or break your big day. Whether divorced, remarried, mixed or blended, yours and your groom's families are an important part of your wedding day.

On their wedding day, the bride and groom simply want everyone they love to take pleasure in the day's celebrations. And of course, parents want their son or daughter's wedding to be the best day of their lives. Since the shared goal is a joyful celebration of the union of a loving couple, there shouldn't be a problem. But every now and then, in spite of the best intentions, family tension can cause some unfortunate wedding worries for the happy couple.

It is up to the bride and groom to pave the way for cooperation and mutual respect between feuding family members. In the planning stages, assess the situation honestly. Circumstances may require separate engagement announcements, although the mothers should be told first. Also, separate bridal showers may be required. But when it comes to the wedding day, there can only be one. So how do the bride and groom include everyone and maintain civility?

Here are some different ways to deal with potential problems when it comes to parents and families dealing with divorce.

  • When trying to mend fences and gain cooperation, approach each parent or family member personally and individually. Explain calmly and in simplest terms that your wedding day won't be as wonderful if there are ill feelings in the air. Ask them to put aside their differences and celebrate something they have in common - you.
  • Wedding invitations are presented by the persons hosting the wedding. If divorced parents are on positive terms, they will share expenses and act as co-hosts. The invitations can be sent with both sets of parents' names. The mother's name with her new husband's name first, and then the father's name with his new wife's name. Like, "Mrs. Nancy Jones and Mr. Frank Jones and Mr. Robert Smith and Mrs. Jane Smith are delighted to" If invitation wording is very complicated or causes strain, simply write the invitation to appear as if the bride and groom are hosting their own wedding. This is a completely accepted form of invitation, also.
  • You have every right to make the final decision on who is invited. Your wedding day is for your close friends and loved-ones. If there is a new wife or husband in the picture that will cause problems, or a family member that may be disruptive to others, you can choose not to invite them. It is a difficult decision to make, but it's better to remove the potential problem before it disrupts your wedding day.
  • There are no rules about seating divorced parents and their new significant others near one another during the ceremony or at the reception. If parents refuse to sit in the first row together, the mother of the bride or mother of the groom should sit in the first row and the father of the bride or father of the groom in the second. In the receiving line, mother of the bride and new husband before father, with groom's parents in between.
  • Keep it simple. There is no need to announce your parents at the reception. The announcement of the bride and groom and the wedding party is all that is required. Seat your parents with the rest of your reception guests. Seat them separately, and among people they know and like to avoid any strain or tension.
  • The bride chooses who walks her down the aisle. A father who was absent and did not raise her does not get the privilege of walking the bride down the aisle simply because of genetics. A bride may be closer to her step father and wish to be given away by him. When step-families are on good terms, both the father and step-father can walk the bride down the aisle. This is always a touching sight.
  • The bride can choose for herself who she shares the father-daughter dance with first, and inform both of her choice beforehand. The bride can switch to her father or step-father half way through a song. To eliminate the problem entirely, choose not to have a set father-daughter dance, but do make sure to dance with both men during the evening.
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