Planning a wedding with divorced parents is tough, and it can be even more so if one (or both) of your parents has started to see someone new—especially when it comes to your limited supply of plus-ones. If one of your parents has a new SO (and there’s no engagement ring in sight), do you have to invite him or her to your wedding? This one’s tricky, so we’ve turned to the experts for help.
While the “no ring, no bring” rule is pretty straightforward, it’s becoming less and less common as couples date for longer periods of time, live together before getting married, and sometimes skip traditional marriage altogether—meaning long-time partners are getting invited along with their partners. New boyfriends or girlfriends, however, really depend on the situation. If you have space to invite everyone with a guest, it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been dating, but if you’re tight on seats at the table, a new flame may not make the cut.
So does that apply to your parents, too? Probably not. Especially if your parents are paying for some or all of your celebration, they should be allowed to bring a guest—even if it’s your mom’s brand new boyfriend or girlfriend and you’ll be meeting for the first time at the rehearsal dinner. And of course, if they’re in an established relationship, engaged or not, your parents should be at the top of the “and guest” list. (Note: If your parent is single or hasn’t yet “defined the relationship,” there’s no need to give them a plus-one; your wedding isn’t the appropriate place for a first or second date.)
Of course, that doesn’t make the situation any easier. If you’re unsure how one of your parents will react if the other parent brings a new SO to your wedding, have a conversation about it. Ask your mom how she feels about having her boyfriend or girlfriend attend. Does she see it going somewhere serious (so much so that she’ll be happy to see that person in your wedding photos in the future), or is it more casual? And don’t forget to discuss your dad’s feelings. It’s important for them both to be comfortable with the arrangement, and if you’re concerned that Dad will have a hard time seeing Mom with someone else, say so.
If you haven’t met the new partner yet, make a point to do so before your wedding (and before the rehearsal dinner, too). Take a little time to chat and get to know them so you don’t have to awkwardly introduce yourself in your wedding gown.
It’s also important to think about how your parent’s new SO will participate in the wedding. You do not have to include this person in the processional. Instead, reserve a seat next to where your parent will be sitting, where he or she should be seated before the processional begins. Then, once your parents have processed, they can take their seats—and have their partners waiting for them in the next chair. They also should not stand in the receiving line. If the relationship is very new, most of your family members won’t know your mom’s or dad’s new companion, and your receiving line is not the appropriate place to make those introductions. Instead, he or she should mingle with the rest of the guests, and then your parent can make introductions during cocktail hour.
The new SO should be given a seat at the same table as the parent they are dating for the reception. Just as with any guest attending with a date, it’s impolite to split them up, and they’ll be much more comfortable sitting with someone they know.
- Invite your parent’s new partner, no matter how long they have been dating (as long as they’ve defined the relationship).
- New SOs should not participate in the processional unless they are engaged to your parent. Instead, they should be seated in the seat next to the one reserved for your mom or dad.
- They should not stand in the receiving line and instead should mingle with guests.
- They should be seated at the same table as (and next to) the parent they are dating.