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Parents are divorced; they don't speak -- how can I make things less awkward?

My parents have been divorced for over 4 years and are much happier than they were before.  However, they don't communicate with each other at all due to some very nasty things being said the last time they spoke. 

Initially, my FI and I planned to elope, thus avoiding the entire problem of my parents being the same room.  All of the parents (his, mine, and the new spouses) fiercely objected to not having a ceremony of some sort.  I'm assuming this means they are all more focused on the joy of our impending nuptuals than the pain of the past.  BUT -- I am still concerned that there will be awkward moments.  Is there anything that can be done to make things go more smoothly?  Does anyone have suggestions on how other children of divorced parents have handled these big "life events"?


Re: Parents are divorced; they don't speak -- how can I make things less awkward?

  • Perhaps keep your parents separate during the ceremony and reception (such as seating them as far away from each other as possible.) That's probably about all you can do. They are adults and the way they act toward one another is their decision.
  • In Response to Parents are divorced; they don't speak -- how can I make things less awkward?:
    My parents have been divorced for over 4 years and are much happier than they were before.  However, they don't communicate with each other at all due to some very nasty things being said the last time they spoke.  Initially, my FI and I planned to elope, thus avoiding the entire problem of my parents being the same room.  All of the parents (his, mine, and the new spouses) fiercely objected to not having a ceremony of some sort.  I'm assuming this means they are all more focused on the joy of our impending nuptuals than the pain of the past.  BUT -- I am still concerned that there will be awkward moments.  Is there anything that can be done to make things go more smoothly?  Does anyone have suggestions on how other children of divorced parents have handled these big "life events"?
    Posted by sunflour42
    Both my parents and DH's parents are divorced.  We worried there might be drama, especially on his side, since the two of them hadn't been in the same room together since the divorce proceedings 15 years prior.  Luckily, all of our parents were adult enough to put aside their history for one day.

    We made sure not to seat them together - in our case we had a "mother's" table and a "father's" table at the reception which seemed to work well.  Make sure to take some pictures with the whole family, and then with each parental until seperately, so that they can have pics of themselves and you without the other parent if they so choose.  Other than that, all that you can do is expect them to act like the adults that they are.
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  • Divorced parents can always lead to awkward times at these sort of events. :(
    They don't have to talk during your wedding, but I would hope they'll be mature. I would seat them at separate tables and do some pics together, some apart, and try not to stress over it. :)
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  • Really all you can do is seat them away from each other and hope for the best.  Hopefully they will both be adults and spend the night being happy for you and your new husband.  Good luck and I hope everything works out!
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  • Can you talk to each of them individually and express your concerns?  They may surprise you and put their differences aside for the day, if only for your sake.

    For what its worth, my parents have been divorced for 10 years and because of special circumstances my mother found it impossible to even hear my Dad's name without weeping.  I had a talk with her 6 months before our wedding about how I hoped she'd get some help and figure out a way to be happy at the wedding, and she actually went to therapy to get over some of her hangups.  She started out saying she didn't want anything to do with my Dad and ended up asking if they could sit together during the ceremony because "it just felt right".  I was beyond surprised but over the moon happy with how things turned out. 

    Maybe if you speak to your parents and explain how important it is that they get along they'll help you come up with solutions that they'll feel comfortable with.

    Good luck!
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  • This happened to my cousin too.  He talked to them each individually and told them that this day was important to him.  Both parents were able to respect that... and even agreed to walk down the aisle together.  At the reception (unprompted or asked) they even shared a dance! 

    Just talk to them.  Do not ask that they do anything they are uncomfortable with (like walking downt he aisle, or being announced at the reception together).  Ask them to be polite and courteous and see what happens and how the converstaion goes. 
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  • I'm sure that your parents should all be able to respect you and FI enough to grin and bear it for the day. Don't seat them together and if you're really that concerned just have a short chat with them, but it's not something that should need to be discussed IMO. They should be able to act like adults and avoid each other enough to where no scenes happen.

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  • I understand the fear, TRUST me. My parents have been divorced for 10 years but are still fighting over property, owed child support, etc. etc. I was so terrified they'd make a scene/make my life difficult with the wedding, that I freaked out before walking down the aisle-- because they both had to be in the same room for the processional. Luckily, DH calmed me down (we'd done a first look, and when I started freaking out the WP went to get him to calm me down). And honestly, it was fine. My dad and SM sat in the front row since my dad walked me down the aisle, and my mom sat down immediately behind them. My DH's parents are divorced, and we did the same on that side. Then we split them up-- my dad had a table with some of his guests, mom had fewer guests so she got my siblings. We also split up DH's parents the same way, and we sat at a sweetheart table. No one said anything or did anything strange. At the end, my mom and dad actually civilly spoke to each other-- my mom thanked my dad for having her (he was the host) and he thanked her for coming, they shook hands and that's it.

    I literally thought they couldn' t act so civilly-- and honeslty I've had plenty of opportunities to see them at their finest (graduations, etc.) but they were fine at the wedding. I'm guessing they didn't want to embarrass themselves in front of everyone there!
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  • My best friend was in the same situation and I (as the MOH) kind of took over the matter for her...  When her bio-dad starting throwing a fit at the rehearal, I pulled him aside, calmed him down, etc....  Maybe you can enlist your MOH to help?  Sometimes people just need a reminder that they need to set aside their anger/frustration/jealousy for that day and I know for my best friend, I wanted that to be one less thing she had to worry about.
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  • Mature parents who love you will be respectful of your day and act civilly. I want both my divorced parents to be in the wedding processional and because the church is very small, space is limited upfront. This means they can’t sit with their new significant others, but by each other instead! However, I wasn’t going to let their new flames take front row seating away from my grandparents. So there you have it.

    It’s your wedding, so you call the shots and everyone is just going to have to deal because this day is about you and your husband. Perhaps there might be some award moments but so long as you are aware of this reality you will be well prepared to roll with the punches. And believe me; your parents aren’t going to want to embarrass themselves in front of your new in-laws.

    Easier said than done, but don’t worry!

  • Both my DH's parents & my parents are divorced,my parents are like the best of friends they get along great.DH's parents on the other hand cant stand being in the same room and havent spoken in over 15 years.They got into an argument at our rehersal over who was going to pay for how much of  the bill so i was concerned this would happen at our wedding,i requested a few minuets alone with our photographer and our dj in my bridal suite the morning of the wedding and i just told them that his parents cant be mature enough to get along at a rehersal and i was concerned they would argue at the wedding & i told them to keep his parents as far apart as possible.Luckily they were mature at the wedding even speaking a few words to eachother so DH could get a couple shots of him,his mom & dad all togeather.In the end they realized that DH was all that mattered and that they needed to be civil so he could enjoy his special day.
  • Preachin to the choir!  My parents divorced in 2002 and haven't been in the same room since.  it's nothing short of a miracle that they're both coming.  My dad offered me money to elope so that he wouldn't have to deal with this.

    As far as advice?  It depends on the severity of the situation.  Mine cannot be seated at the same table, or else food and knives will fly.  Here's what I've done...

    • Tactfully tell the entire bridal party and close friends and family (if applicable - it is for me since my family's flying in from across the country) the salient details of the situation "FYI - My parents aren't on speaking terms so please be mindful" to avoid any awkwardness ahead of time 
    • Find a way to "blend" the family-of-the-wedding-party tables so that your parents don't have to sit together.
    • I'm having my stepfamily included in the ceremony to try to bring us all closer together.  This will mean having my mom and stepmom in the same room while I'm getting ready, but a wedding is about love and family and coming together, so have a mimosa and deal with it!
    • Tell the wedding venue that your parents aren't attending / sitting together.  My maitre'd knows to keep an eye on the situation and intervene if it gets out of control.
    • Tell the DJ that your parents aren't coming out together.  I'm fixing this by having my brother (a groomsman) walk out with my mom and my dad walking out with my stepmother.  Bada bing, bada boom.
    • Tell the photographer of the situation and be mindful of everything when giving him a list of posed family pictures to be taken.
    And most importantly, sit down and talk with each of your parents.  It's your big day. If people can't get their big girl panties on, then maybe they don't need to be there to begin with.

    Best of luck.  PM me if you need to vent - this has been a really big source of stress, tears, and drama in wedding planning.

    Hugs!
  • I will have a similar problem when my DDs marry.  My ex likes to pretend I don't exist and refuses to speak to me.  And the younger DD wants to get married in the exMIL's back yard.  Talk about uncomfortable for me...

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  • Keep them somewhat separate and tell them to suck it up for just this one day and be civil. Its supposed to be the happiest day of your life and they shouldn't let their drama spill over to this occassion

    JMHO
  • In Response to Re: Parents are divorced; they don't speak -- how can I make things less awkward?:
    Can you talk to each of them individually and express your concerns?  They may surprise you and put their differences aside for the day, if only for your sake. For what its worth, my parents have been divorced for 10 years and because of special circumstances my mother found it impossible to even hear my Dad's name without weeping.  I had a talk with her 6 months before our wedding about how I hoped she'd get some help and figure out a way to be happy at the wedding, and she actually went to therapy to get over some of her hangups.  She started out saying she didn't want anything to do with my Dad and ended up asking if they could sit together during the ceremony because "it just felt right".  I was beyond surprised but over the moon happy with how things turned out.  Maybe if you speak to your parents and explain how important it is that they get along they'll help you come up with solutions that they'll feel comfortable with. Good luck!
    Posted by Robyn5298
    This!!!  Involve your parents in finding the solution to the impending problem.  If they are involved in creating the solution they will be more likely to adhear to said solution because they feel ownership of it.
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  • We have the same issue with FI's parents. Our photographer offered a helpful hint - made SURE your photographer knows who is who & doesn't do the awkward "Oh mother & father of the bride - stand together for a picture!" thing.
  • My parents have been divorced for about 20 years and my dad still wont speak directly to my mom. It's actually become a bit of a joke because he refuses to even speak her name. All I did was have a very candid discussion with my mom before we got too far into planning. My mom is the more mature one about the whole situation and basically all it came down to was her promising to handle anythign that came up and not let it interfere with the day. If you get at least one parent to recognize the situation and how it makes your special day uncomfortable for you, odds are they will be very understanding and handle the situation on their own. After all, they make be divorced, but they are your parents and I'm sure they both realize how much this day means to you.

    And I agree with harmony. Talk to photographer, officiant, planner, and anyone else involved in the ceremony. Explain the situation. You'll be surprisedhow much the people around you will go out of their way to help prevent awkward moments. My friends sort of tag teams my parents and took turns talking to them and kept them separate pretty much the whole time!
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