Wedding Etiquette for Blended Families

When I agreed to write this article, I had no idea it would take me back 17 years to when my husband and I planned our own wedding. Anxiety and lost sleep over which parent would help with different wedding expenses, who would walk me down the aisle, who would sit where and how do we word the wedding invitation.. Obviously we made it over each hurdle, but thinking back just makes me cringe!

As a “child of divorce,” I am well aware of the delicate balance others with divorced parents have learned. Sure, our parents divorced one another, but is it really that simple? There are the rare divorced, or blended families, where everyone gets along, and in fourteen years of wedding planning, I can assure you that they do exist. I’ve seen them, but they are definitely not the norm. The bottom line is that even as you plan your wedding day, you will need to be prepared to perform a balancing act.

You are about to take a very adult step in your life, so don’t be afraid to have a very adult conversation with your parents about the wedding. Tackle issues early in the engagement. This is not to say it will be an easy conversation, after all they are still your parents, but it is important to head off problems in advance. It may be too much to expect to meet with them together, so be prepared to do it twice and cover all the wedding details.

In the best case scenarios, divorced parents will be able to put their differences aside for the sake of their child’s happiness. Hopefully your best interest is what they have at heart, but their ideas of what that is may be very different. They could even be quite different from yours! If necessary, take a stand for what you want.

With a divorce rate of 50% in America, it is often an inevitability for many couples, whether it’s your parents, your partner’s parents, or a close family members, you may encounter a sticky family situation. Couples today are paving the way for new customs that will work for them. Discuss everything with your fiancée and come up with solutions together. The ability to communicate and compromise will serve you well in the life you are building together.

Finally, call upon the knowledge and experience of your wedding professionals. Don’t be afraid to tell them about the family dynamics and what concerns you. Believe me, they have seen and heard a lot and don’t scare easily. Ask them about their experience in handling difficult issues. They will help you and your family members avoid embarrassing or uncomfortable situations that could cast a shadow on the perfect wedding day.

Remember that you can’t change the past and you can’t change who your parents are, you can only change how you choose to respond to them. Their past is not your future. Don’t allow the anger or sadness of divorce to eclipse your happily ever after.

Article: Nancy Nolan-Kuperberg of No Regrets Events | Graphic: Hannah Lee | Photography: Jillian Mitchell Photography