Photo: Greer G. Photography
Look back to how your parents behaved at earlier big events in your life. Your high school and college graduations, for example — how did they do together? If they got along just fine previously, consider that even more years have passed (therefore more healing of wounds).
Or did they wreck your graduations with their histrionics, ill will, or obnoxious behavior? If so, make the smart tactical moves (seat them in separate pews, at separate tables, out of eye-shot and ear-shot of each other).
But also have a conversation with them, separately, before your wedding: "Mom/Dad, my graduation was not pleasant because of what went on between you two. None of us want that repeated at my wedding. So please, get along. Be pleasant, be civil, be celebratory. Do this not just for me, but for my siblings, our grandparents, the whole family. This is a chance for our whole family to move out of your past pain and hurt, and into a new chapter. The power and responsibility lies with you. Please do this for our whole family."
Having a conversation like this can help your divorced parents broaden their perspectives beyond their own private hurts. It can potentially help them become more aware of the impact of their behavior on your entire extended family — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in addition to your nuclear family — at large. Because it'll be a lot less stressful for your whole clan if they can just play nice and get along on your wedding weekend.
Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is the author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the '"Happiest" Time of Her Life and has been helping brides feel happier, calmer and better prepared for marriage since 2002. She is a bridal counselor, an expert in engagement anxiety and cold feet, and the founder of Emotionally Engaged Counseling for Brides.