How to Handle Divorced Parents at Your Wedding

Avoid a dramatic scene on your special day.

How to Handle Divorced Parents at Your Wedding

Photo: Bob & Dawn Davis Photography

how to handle divorced parents at your wedding

Weddings are supposed to be occasions to bring everyone together. Of course, so are birthdays, holidays, graduations, and other celebratory events, but children of divorce know it’s not always so easy.

If your parents split when you were a child or adolescent, you are probably familiar with the balancing act that comes with divorced parents at the same event. For those whose parents didn’t separate until the children reached adulthood, this can be difficult and unfamiliar territory. Not only do you then have less experience handling these uncomfortable situations, but the wounds are also still fresh for your parents.

That’s why we have created a basic guide for how to handle estranged or divorced parents at your nuptials. Of course, everything depends on the relationship they maintain with one another, but there can still be tension even among the most amicable of splits. 

- If one parent is remarried or seeing someone and the other isn't, perhaps give your other parent a plus one so they feel like they have a support system.
- Particularly in a newly split marriage, you may ask a parent to not bring their new significant other, especially if the marriage ended due to infidelity.
- There are several options for being escorted down the aisle: both mother and father if they're on good terms with each other, stick with tradition by walking with your dad, choose your stepdad if your biological father was not part of your life, be escorted by both your dad and stepfather, or you can always walk by yourself.
- If they can't stand to sit next to each other, seat them in different rows with their immediate family. Do something similar for the reception, rather than placing them both at the head table.
- Give them each an opportunity to toast to you and your new spouse.
- Let your photographer and wedding planner know the situation so it can go more smoothly.
- Even if you try to be inclusive, your stepparents might actually feel uncomfortable if you honor them too much. A courteous stepmom could worry about stealing special moments from the mother of the bride.

Learn how to solve parental disagreements on your wedding day and how to bond with your future mother-in-law

Opening photo by John Schnack Photography