Divorced parents and your wedding – how to make your special day go smoothly
There is no such thing as a ‘typical family’ and here at the Hythe Imperial Hotel we have come across all sorts of family situations. We would urge any couple planning their wedding to plan, plan, plan for potentially tricky situations – here are the two main issues we encounter and some tips on how best to address them:
Divorced parents and your wedding
If either (or both) of you have divorced parents, then it is important to consider the possible dynamics at the wedding. If your parents are amicable; let’s say they are remarried and you get on well with their spouses, then you will likely be ok. However, if they are not amicable, or you don’t get on with their choice of spouse, then you will need to think carefully about how to approach your wedding day…
The best thing is to be upfront from the outset so that you have plenty of time to discuss any issues. Talk to your parents about what they are expecting from the day itself. Are they expecting to be on the top table for example? (This might be the point at which you decide not to have a traditional top table or to advise your parents that you are going to invite your best man, maid of honour and their spouses to join you instead to avoid the issue entirely.)
Be honest with your parents about what it is you and your partner need from them. If tensions flare after one or both of your divorced parents have been drinking, then you could ask them to refrain from alcohol on this occasion or ask them to leave after the meal. Some of our couples have decided to get their parents together in advance – especially if they haven’t seen each other for a long time – to get any unpleasantness out in the open ahead of the special day. Although this can be uncomfortable, it is preferable to your parents potentially ruining your wedding day!
Whichever the case, it is also worth appointing an usher or bridesmaid (or all of them) or perhaps a favourite aunty or uncle to keep an eye out for any friction and to deal with it as it happens.
The role of the stepfather
Some of our brides have found it difficult to include both their natural father and their stepfather in the celebrations, especially – as can often be the case – that it is their stepfather who has in the main brought them up and to whom they are closest. Again, it is best to be upfront here. Talk to both and find out what it is they are each expecting from the day. They may not be honest with you initially, but it is worth probing to establish exactly how they feel and how they might behave on the day.
Again, much will depend on whether your father and stepfather have an amicable relationship. If they do, then we might see one walk the bride down the aisle and the other give the father-of-the-bride speech. We have also seen both the father and stepfather walk a bride down the aisle and then share the duties of the speech. This is unusual but it can be done!
If your father and stepfather do not get on, then again, this needs to be managed. You will need to decide what it is you want them to do and be firm with them. If they prove impossible to reason with, perhaps ask your mother to walk you down the aisle and make the speech – or a favourite uncle or brother. If there is a lot of tension between the two, then position them well away from each other during the wedding breakfast and be very clear with your ushers and bridesmaids to keep an eye out for any potential tension.
Just keep in mind that it is YOUR SPECIAL DAY and remind your parents of this as often as you need to! Planning is vital and – however tricky it feels – it should be easier if you tackle these issues head on!
We are very experienced at planning weddings – and the earlier you let us know of any potential tension, the smoother the wedding day you will have. Get in touch now to book a show round!