Dealing With Divorced Parents

I can't give you any advice from personal experience, but a majority of the weddings I have coordinated do involve divorced parents...and this doesn't make it easy on the bride or the groom. With emotions running high, couples tend to get stressed out by the tugging of each parent from either side, wanting it her way or wanting it his way. Or oftentimes, refusing to attend the wedding altogether if the other parent is there.

How is this fair at all? I am sure that divorce is not easy but come on now, let's act like adults here! It is not like they have to speak to each other. All it takes is for your parents to be cordial or to just avoid each other for one single night.

Below I have outlined some of the top areas of stress when it comes to divorced parents and planning a wedding and how to overcome these stresses. 

The Ceremony

This is a tricky one because some of you may have multiple dads. So who will walk you down the aisle? Will feelings get hurt? It would be so much easier if we could just pick one dad and be done with it but unfortunately, this doesn't always work out. If you are closest with one of your dad's and the others are not exactly part of your life, then this is an easy choice! But generally, this is not the case.

I would always say to err on the side of inclusiveness. If you are in a sticky situation, make sure to include all of your family members. You can have two dads walk you down the aisle or you can include them in communion or your sand ceremony. All they want is to feel as though they are on an even playing field with each other and to feel included in your wedding day. Just remember, the reason they want this is because they love you!


The Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dances

Dance with each parent for part of the song you choose. If you would like to have different songs, just cut them short so you can dance with all of your parents! That's all there is to it!

Christopher Todd Studios

Christopher Todd Studios

The Seating Chart

I know, I know. The seating chart is always difficult because you don't want your divorced parents to be anywhere near each other. But let's be real - besides dancing and hanging out at the bar, who turns to the table behind you during dinner to chat with someone else?

Guests tend to chat with those who are seated at their table so even placing your parents' tables back-to-back is not the end of the world. However, I would recommend placing them on "even" sides of the room. Don't give one a "better" seat in the house and put the other in the back because remember, we want everything to be on an even playing field so there is no potential for drama.

Refusing To Show Up

This happens more than you would expect - a parent refuses to show up to the wedding if the other is going to be there. And let me tell you the honest truth - they are fibbing! Your parents love you and are starting this drama because they love you so much and want to be part of your big day. So when a parent says they aren't going to come to your wedding, just brush it off and wait for it to blow over. Here is what I would recommend to anyone of you in this situation:

"Mom/Dad - This is my wedding day and I want it to be an amazing experience for me. I know you don't like each other but for once, can we please just focus on me. I would appreciate it if you were there to support me on my wedding day, regardless of mom/dad being there because I love you both and it just isn't fair to make me choose who I want there...because I want you BOTH there. If you really can't deal with being in the same room for one night then that is your choice but I would be very sad and hurt if you decided to not support me on one of the biggest days of my life."

Imagine saying that to your parent! If you remain calm and collective and just tell them how you feel, chances are everything will turn out just fine and you will have a drama-free day.



The Step Parents

I know the question of whether or not to include your step-parents in the wedding or not comes up a lot and here is the simple answer:

YES, you must invite whoever your parent re-married or are dating and YES, you need to include your step-parents in your family photos. You are more than welcome to do immediate family only photos but eliminating he or she from all photos on the wedding day is not something that will just blow over.


I would recommend putting both names on the invitations unless there are some substantial circumstances. Let's just remember, we want everything to be even in order to keep that drama out! Yes, I know this makes the invitation that much longer and that much more complicated, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Here is an example of the longest invitation I have seen from one of my brides so you can see that it is possible to make it work!

Mr. and Mrs. (bride's father and wife)
Mr. and Mrs. (bride's mother and husband)
Request the honor of your presence
At the wedding of
son of
Mr. and Mrs. (groom's father and wife)
Mr. and Mrs. (groom's mother and husband)
etc. etc. etc....

So just remember one thing - your parents love you and want to be there to make your day absolutely perfect. Keep everything and everyone on an "even playing field" as much as possible to avoid the potential of drama interrupting this happy moment.