How To Plan A Wedding If Your Parents Are Divorced

Eight Tips To Ensure Your Big Day Runs Smoothly

If you or your loved one’s parents are divorced, you might be familiar with some of the awkward and painful dilemmas that can arise when trying to plan family events. If you’re lucky and your parents had an amicable split, maybe everything’s been hunky dory. Perhaps your parents have already seen each other at family events, and can still enjoy a good laugh? If this is the case then be confident and assume that the wedding will be no different.

If your parent’s split wasn’t the most harmonious, then we’re here to help! We know that planning a wedding is stressful as it is, but adding divorced parents (or in-laws who aren’t on good terms) means adding an unnecessary amount of tension to an already hectic time. Unless you want hurt feelings and resentment causing unnecessary drama on your big day, it’s important to consider things like seating arrangements, bridal dances, and a few other tricky situations beforehand. Read on for our best tips to ease the tension and ensure the importance of your wedding day transcends any old conflicts in the family. And, if you feeling overwhelmed don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Botanica Weddings, we’re the experts at planning beautiful weddings and ensuring all the finer details are taken care of.

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Image credit:

1.    Have an open and honest discussion with your parents

Start by having an honest discussion with each of your parents (and their spouses, if remarried) separately. Remind them that your wedding day is an incredibly special day that’s about you and your loved one and that they should try to make an effort to keep aside any resentment or bitterness from their divorce out of it. Of course, you should be as understanding as possible of your parents’ feelings during this whole talk. If they’ve had a particularly painful divorce due to infidelity, for example, it may be unreasonable to expect your parent to attend the same event as “the other woman” or man, especially if they’re going unaccompanied. In situations like these, it might be best to ask one parent to be discreet and also come unaccompanied.

However, if much time has passed since the divorce and everyone has made peace, you may want your parent’s new partners there. If this is the case, it’s best to explain yourself candidly to each of your parents. Let them know how much this day means to you and how much you want them both to be there and enjoy themselves. Express that you hope and expect them to do everything in their power to make the day a success. If they put up any kind of opposition, explain yourself again calmly then give them time to think it through on their own.

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Image credit:

2.    How to determine who pays for what

These days most couples pay for their own weddings but if you’re looking for family help with the expense then read on to make sure you handle it with grace. Firstly, if your parents divorced while you were young, they might be accustomed to splitting expenses already. If not, you may have to work towards a mutually acceptable arrangement with them. If both parents have expressed a desire to pay for some of your wedding, great – you can try one of two things. Either let them know approximately what your budget is and ask them to provide an amount they both feel that they can contribute, or ask them what they feel want to pay for. Some parents will choose the photography while others will be happy to take care of the food. Let them select an area to own and feel proud of.  This makes this a lot easier than trying to work out shares based on income. At the end of the day, the amount they feel comfortable giving is the amount they should provide. One top tip is not to divulge to either parent what the other is contributing. This can cause a triangle situation with you in the middle.


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3.    Sharing the wedding planning tasks

More likely than not, it will be your mother who wants to be closely involved in the planning process. If you have a stepmother who you’re on good terms with, she may want a hand in it too. Again, open and honest communication is the key here. So try to find out exactly what they’d like to be a part of then delegate the tasks as you see fit. Once you’ve decided who should help with what, let them know as soon as possible and provide a reason. For example, you might want your mother to help you pick out the dress because she’s got great taste and you trust her opinion. On the other hand, you might want your stepmother to help with sampling the cake and food vendors since she’s a great cook and is passionate about food. Both parties should feel appreciated and involved, but keep in mind that you can’t please everyone every time. Wedding planning can be tiresome but the goal is to make sure both parties are alleviating the stress rather than adding to it. Another option is to hire a wedding planner and use them as the primary organiser. It’s a great way to keep everyone calm!

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4.    Seating Arrangements

Formal seating at weddings is generally straightforward, you place people with common interests at similar tables and make sure every person is set up with the best possible social scenario to help them feel comfortable. With divorced parents and in-laws, this task can get a little bit tricky.

Ceremony Seating

Whether your parents remain on distant terms or not, etiquette dictates that you should seat your mother in the first row and your father in the second row. Then, fill each of the rows with their own immediate family members. This will show mutual respect to each parent and resolve any possible tensions that could result from seating them both in the same row.

Reception Seating

If you’re one of the lucky ones whose parents have remained good friends, there’s no reason not to have them both with their partners at the head table with you. If one comes unaccompanied consider seating them next to your most tactful bridesmaid or groomsmen. Make sure you brief your friend to help the solo parent feel comfortable!

If your parents are not on good terms then avoid a painfully awkward dinner by giving each of your parents a head seat at their own table. You can make sure they’re seated beside their own friends and close family members and keep the head table limited to the wedding party so they don’t feel left out.

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5.    Toasting the Bride and Groom

Traditionally, only the father of the bride toasts at the wedding, though it’s more customary nowadays for both parents to make the toast together. If your parents are divorced, each parent should be given their own opportunity to make a toast. If one parent expects that they should make the toast together despite the divorce, please ensure that the parent knows about it and agrees. A little planning can save awkward speech moments and hurt feelings.

6.    Who will be walking you down the aisle?

Of course, this issue is at the bride’s discretion, but If you’re close to your stepfather (closer than you are to your biological father) then it may feel appropriate for him to walk you down the aisle. If this is the case, let both parties know well ahead of time so that no one feels disappointed or put on the spot. The neutral option is to have a close male friend or other relative to accompany you down the aisle. Also, don’t worry about walking yourself down the aisle, these days you have the freedom to do as you please so don’t get caught up in traditional expectations unless you want to.

Image credit: Terralogical

Image credit: Terralogical

7.    Bridal dances

To avoid awkwardness, make sure that you inform the DJ or bandleader ahead of time if you don’t want certain dances to be announced. In the case of the father/daughter dance, you may want to dance with both your father and your stepdad, so let your wedding planner and entertainment crew know ahead of time. During the “bride’s parents” dance, let both parties dance with their dates. If one hasn’t come with a date or you’ve asked them both to come unaccompanied, then you might want to do away with this dance altogether to avoid unnecessary awkwardness.

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8.    Photography

Photography is another area where you’ll have to consider the feelings of both parents. Let your photographer know in advance what the situation is so he can set up the appropriate family shots. He or she will probably ask you to provide a list of family shots that you wish to capture so this is the perfect time to communicate your preferences and make sure they’re aware of any possible dynamics to avoid. You’ll probably want family shots with both of your parents together and then with each of your parents and their partners.

“Note: You are also not obliged to include a parent’s casual partner in any of your wedding photographs or even to invite them to the wedding.”

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Use The Wedding Planning Experts!

If you’re overwhelmed by the wedding planning process, we’re here to help you every step of the way. Regardless of whether divorced parents are an issue, there are numerous problems which can crop up while planning your wedding. Luckily we’ve got some of the best in the business ready to take some of that stress off your shoulders. Our planners will advise you on every matter, every step of the way. We can help to make the wedding planning process fun so don’t hesitate to get in touch!