Split Decisions

Tips for planning a wedding when your parents are divorced

What do you do when your father and stepfather each has his heart set on walking you down the aisle? Or if your parents refuse to say "cheese" in the same shot? Drama surrounding divorced parents can put a damper on any day, let alone the big one. But you don't have to stress out. We've teamed up with Rita Bigel-Casher, a New York-based psychotherapist and the author of Bride's Guide to Emotional Survival (Authorhouse, 2003) to help solve some of your dilemmas.

Daddy's (Other) Girl

"My mom can't stand my dad's girlfriend because she broke up their marriage. Mom says she won't attend the wedding if Olivia will be there, but Dad says he'll pay only if Olivia is invited. I want everyone to be happy—including me. Help!"

Bigel-Casher: Try to understand that your mother is still living in the past and having a hard time moving forward, while your father is getting on with his life. You have to be sensitive to their feelings, but you're not responsible for solving this mess.

Our plan of action: In a situation like this, in which someone is going to get hurt, we've got to side with Mom (the fact that your father is playing the money card isn't helping his case). First, take control of the finances, which gives you power over the guest list. Next, invite each parent to attend without a date. Then let each parent host a party in your honor (with guests of their choosing) when you return from the honeymoon.

Walk/Don't Walk

"I've grown close to my biological father, but I adore my stepdad. Who should walk me down the aisle?"

Bigel-Casher: Chances are, you have a special relationship with your stepfather because he was there for you on a daily basis while you were growing up, but your biological father has a unique place in your heart. It's natural to love both of them and to be torn. Whatever you decide, talk openly to them about it—communication is key here in preventing hurt feelings.

Our plan of action: Have a frank conversation with each man and find out who this honor means more to—you may even want to enlist the opinion of your mother as well as your siblings. If you give the privilege to your stepfather, let your father have the father-daughter dance or allow him to give the first toast at the reception. If it seems that both men are equally invested in escorting you, you could give each of them an arm and walk down the aisle as a trio. Or, you can stroll down the aisle by yourself and give each of the fathers a different role to play at the ceremony. One could be a greeter for arriving guests; the other can give a special reading.

Look Who's Asking

"My fiancé and I each have two sets of parents. What's the best way to word our wedding invitation? Do we have to list all eight of them?"

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