5 Mistakes Engaged Couples Make With Divorced Parents

Divorced parents can act well, or can destroy your wedding. Learn how to take back your wedding!


Whether life has been smooth or frazzled after your parents divorced, weddings have the opportunity to bring out a whole new world of crazytown. Unfortunately, we can’t control our parents, but the good news is we can control our response to them.

Controlling a Divorced Parents “Plus One”

We’ve heard it all, from dad’s girlfriend being mom’s former best friend, to mom having just met her new man a week before the wedding and insisting he’s invited. While emotions run high when you think about having a stranger or someone you dislike in the front row at your wedding, it is ultimately a mistake to attack who you feel is appropriate for their “plus one.” If your divorced parent needs moral support from a date, let go and let it be. The one reasonable conversation to have would be to not let a date be in photos. In fact the date may end up being a great way to get more candid photos of everyone in the family.


Not Discussing Photos in Advance

You may have parents who have never been in the same room in twenty years, or you may have friendly parents. Either way, it’s important to talk about what you want for photos, and have a calm conversation about what you’re hoping for. We’ve heard creative ways hate filled parents are brought in the same room at the last minute, as far away from each other as possible, and after the camera clicks, off they go. If you don’t talk about it in advance, you are risking more unnecessary drama.

Discussing the Guest List Far in Advance

The earlier you can talk about who you want at your wedding, the more time you give your divorced parent to adjust to seeing ex in-laws they may not have seen for years. At the same time, if there have been cut offs, it’s important to tell both parents who is NOT being invited to avoid future drama. If you think of your wedding guest list as a United Nations, tension filled meeting, you will have a more successful day because you’ll be very careful in communicating to everyone who may be impacted by your decisions.


Allowing Threats or Boycotts

It is tragic how common threats and boycotts are in wedding planning. Our clear advice is this: do not let someone change your plans, and do not assume they will carry out their plans. For example, you may hear dad saying, “If you let your mother invite her new boyfriend, I am not coming to the wedding!” In all reality, he is very likely to attend, because he puts pie in his own face for not showing up to a public event where the father is expected to be there. What do you say? “Dad, I’m really sorry you’re upset about the boyfriend, but we are inviting him, and we’re inviting you. If you chose to not attend our wedding, we will be very sad, but that’s your choice, and we hope you chose to attend.” Then become a broken record, not giving him any more time or emotional energy.

Not Telling Vendors about Potential Drama


Your wedding vendors have seen it all and have very, very creative ways to work around interpersonal craziness at weddings. Don’t hesitate to let them know what’s going on, and get their advice. You may also empower them by letting them know and being able to help you have a great wedding. If, for example, your DJ knows that dad is super jealous of mom’s new boyfriend, perhaps you rearrange the dancing so there is not a time where all parents are dancing, with guests all watching (so dad doesn’t feel extra humiliated with people watching his exwife and new guy.) Even if the caterer knows, and sees your parents start to go at it at the dessert table, he or she may be able to distract one of them so they don’t get into a big tussle. But nobody can help you if you don’t tell them.