Divorced Parents at Your Wedding
How to Handle Family Stress
In the confusion of how to include your divorced parents in your wedding remember this simple fact - they are still your parents. Yes, there is bound to be some tension or hostility from either parent, but hopefully, they're willing to put those feelings on hold to focus on your happiness. However, if either parent just can't overcome their past resentment here's how to cope with the situations that may arise:
"I'm not going if he/she is going!" - In cases where the divorce was especially bitter either parent may resent the attendance of their former spouse. Regardless of their past, both parents should be willing to set aside their differences for the sake of their child. If you (the bride or groom) need to remind them of that fact, so be it. Of course it is advisable to take a diplomatic approach in voicing your concerns. If you're willing to address the situation in a calm, mature manner, hopefully so too can your parents. If it's a matter of one parent not wanting to attend if their ex's new spouse or significant other is present you may have to decide to limit the invitation to your parents only. Unfortunately, this is a delicate situation especially if you're closer to your stepparent than your actual parent. Talk the situation over with your fiance and wedding officiant - sadly you may have to make a hard or potentially hurtful decision.
Who pays for what - There are two options to address this issue. The parents can pay for personal items (wedding dress, flowers, limousine) and the couple can pay for the services that will be enjoyed by everyone (the reception site, catering, DJ). This way neither parent needs to worry about "their" money being used to the benefit of their ex. Another option is to open a bank account into which the parents can make deposits. The money is used at the couple's discretion and nobody knows whose money paid for what.
Invitation wording - This is a tricky one. Basically the invitation should reflect who's contributing the most and/or who raised you. If both parents have contributed equally the invitation should say "Ms. Jane Smith, Mr. John Smith cordially invites you" Notice the word "and" was not used - the comma shows there are several "hosts," but indicates they are not hosting the wedding together (which the word "and" would imply). For simplicity's sake and to avoid possible conflict stick with established wedding invitation etiquette.
Who walks the bride down the aisle? - Unless the bride's father had minimal contact with her during her life he gets the privilege of walking her down the aisle. If her stepfather essentially raised her, the honor should be his. If she's close to both they could walk her down the aisle together - an etiquette faux pas, but it's your wedding do whatever's comfortable.
Ceremony seating - If the parents get along they both sit in the first row pew. If they don't, the mother sits in the first row and the father sits in the second.
Dinner seating - Again, if the parents get along they both sit at the parents' table. If they don't the mother sits at the parents' table, while the father is seated at the next closest table.