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It doesn’t have to be stressful

Quick Notes:

  • Planning your wedding can be stressful if your parents are divorced

  • Experts provide helpful tips on how to navigate the joyous occasion

  • Remember to respect your parents’ feelings

Your wedding day should be the happiest day of your life. However, it can be challenging to navigate the day when you have divorced parents. Depending on their relationship, you might have to keep them apart to make sure a fight doesn’t break out in the middle of the wedding reception. Weddings are supposed to be happy, not filled with family drama.

So, what are you supposed to do? Luckily, experts have provided their best advice on how to plan your wedding with less stress. That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Set your boundaries and have conversations

As you plan your wedding day, set boundaries for yourself, your partner, and your family. Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapy Group, recommended having conversations with your parents several months before your big day. Discuss how they will interact with each other, and what roles they will play in the wedding.

If you have always imagined your parents sitting together during the ceremony or reception, ask them how they would feel about it. Tell them why it’s important to you. If your parents really can’t handle sitting together for a few hours, it’s best to change your plans while you still have time. As the experts say, you’ll have a better result with your wedding if you’re flexible with your planning.

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Give each parent a specific task

According to Tasha Bracken, of SD Events in Boston, Massachusetts, one of the best things you can do for your divorced parents is to give each parent a specific task they “own.” They won’t have to work together. It will be their own separate project.

“For instance, if one parent really enjoys food, allow him or her to be part of the menu selection process,” Bracken recommended. “Maybe the other enjoys music, so get them involved in selecting music for the cocktail hour or reception.”

Your parents will feel like they both play an integral role in your wedding, but they also won’t have to work together as a team, which could result in more arguments and stress. Of course, as Bracken advised, if any issues arise, “address them head-on immediately—don’t ignore them.”

Keep your planner informed

If you have a wedding planner or coordinator, it’s essential they understand the relationship between your parents. Handling divorced parents isn’t a new experience for them. They are trained to cooperate with parents with all kinds of relationships, but you have to let them know about the situation before the wedding. According to Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design in Verona, New Jersey, your planner can’t avoid problems if you don’t inform them of what they’re dealing with.

“It’s your day, you make the rules,” said Lily Ewin, Seattle-based therapist. “However, when making plans and setting boundaries, it’s important that you consider everyone else’s feelings, as well.”

Don’t forget about the other vendors and people involved in your wedding. Let your photographer know about the situation so they can make adjustments for the wedding photographs. If your parents don’t want to stand next to each other in the group family photo, let your photographer know in advance so you can avoid any drama.

Understand their feelings

Your parents don’t mean to cause complications, so be aware of their feelings as you plan your wedding. They’re going to try their best to put on a happy face at the wedding, but it might be difficult when they feel uncomfortable around each other. Respect their wishes.

“Put yourself in their shoes and everything you ask of them, ask if you’d be willing to do the same if the tables were reversed,” said Deborah McCoy, president of the American Academy of Wedding Professionals.

Talk to your parents and remind them that you’re happy to have them both be a part of your special day. Focus on taking care of your parents, yourself, and enjoying the day with your partner—because that is really what is most important.

A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:

Wives reveal five things they would have changed about their wedding day.

Have you ever wondered what happens when someone objects at a wedding? Learn about the history of this famous tradition, and the requirements for someone to “speak now or forever hold your peace.”