These days more and more couples have to face the fact that their parents are no longer together and try and plan a wedding that is as harmonious as possible for everyone. Divorce is bad enough but what about when one of them meets someone else.
If it happened a long time ago it's generally not a problem. If it's recent it can become a massive issue. Worst case scenario is when one side is still grieving for the breakdown of the marriage and the other flaunts their new partner for everyone to see. Knowing about it is one thing, to see it staring you in the face is completely different, especially at your daughter or sons wedding were all the relatives are there to witness your discomfort.
Not only is there the humiliation but when drink and emotion are involved, you have to be very careful that a carefully planned wedding doesn't get sabotaged by events out of your control.
It doesn't matter whose side it is the problems remain the same. The easiest situation is when both parents have new partners and everyone likes everyone. This isn't without its own problems as there is always the issue of who sits on the top table and who is present in the line up but usually it can be sorted fairly easily with common sense and communication.
It's really down to the individual how they handle the situation. If dads recently met someone new he needs to be discreet and nor flaunt his new relationship. He shouldn't be parading her in front of everyone and expect her to be sat on the top table next to him, its insensitive. However if your parents divorced when you were tiny and either of them re-married its absolutely right they should be present, maybe not on the top table but certainly with the respect to their position i.e. they are someone important in your parents lives.
The situation could be one of a number of things. Firstly either one of your parents has re-married and you absolutely love their new partner but the other parent doesn't or worse still the other parent doesn't give stuff but you absolutely loathe them. What if the girlfriend is younger than you or if you think she is after your fathers money or your mum starts hanging round with some odd bloke twenty years her junior, what then? Are they embarrassing themselves or are you embarrassed?
I have personal experience of a situation where my parents split up and my dad who had re-married a much younger woman expected her to have top table status. Quite rightly you might say but we didn't like her in the first place, accepted but didn't agree with their marriage and didn't want her or her alcoholic family at the wedding, let alone sat on the top table. After a lot of discussion mainly between my sister and I we decided that as they were married she could sit at the top table albeit at one end and that her drunken family could sit together at the back of the room. It kept the family peace, everyone was reasonably happy, the wedding went without a hitch but it most definitely wasn't the perfect situation. Not only was it difficult for us but as the majority of guests were friends with my mum it was awkward for them too.
One bride's dad who is absolutely lovely and nursed the brides mum through cancer ten years ago met someone else 2 years ago and instead of support has had a backlash from his late wife's family saying that it's disrespectful to bring a new woman to the wedding. She died ten years ago and if the bride can accept her dad's new woman, I think it's only fair that everyone else can too. I can totally understand it being difficult especially for her parents but if they find the situation just too painful perhaps they should stay away themselves rather than putting the bride and groom in an extremely difficult situation. As I write this we are a month away from the wedding and the situation still hasn't been resolved. In a situation like this there probably isn't a solution that suits everyone; sometimes you just have to make the best of it.
When you've decided who to invite there comes the inevitable situation surrounding the seating plan. Who sits with who, who is going to look daggers at who and who will say the immortal words that if she is sat on the top table then I'm not or even worse if he is coming then forget about me. Believe me it happens and it happens regularly and once it's been said it's hard to put back and even harder to resolve the situation. There isn't a one answer fits all because everyone's situation is different but at all costs you must try and avoid this confrontational attitude because sometimes it's just down to sheer bloody mindedness and there are no winners.
If you can't resolve a situation the best thing to do is send the invitation with a letter stating that they are all invited, you'd absolutely love them to come but it's up to them. If they don't feel they can handle the situation there will be no hard feelings if they decide they can't. Sometimes they all act like children and should be treated as such. Tell them where they are sitting, tell them how you expect them to behave and tell them it's your day and you won't let it be ruined by their silly antics.
Hopefully everyone will pull together on the day to make sure you have the best day ever. Good luck
Copyright 2012 Karen Rhodes