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« Responsibilities of the Wedding Party | Main | The Proper Way To Address Your Wedding Invitations »

Wedding 101: Accommodating Divorced & Blended Families

Take the stress out of accommodating divorced and blended families when wedding planning with this guideline.  The key is to provide separate places of distinction at the ceremony and at the reception to ensure their happiness and enjoyment, and yours, of the day.

Invitations: Invitations traditionally reference those whom are hosting or paying for the majority of the wedding costs. If both parents are contributing, list them by their natural names on separate lines.  If a stepparent is also significant then list them on the same line as their partner.  Traditionally, the mother is always listed first.

Photographs: Let your photographer know the family dynamic situation beforehand.  An experienced photographer will have tips and advice on how to handle the situation.  Remember that each set of parents will most likely want to have a photo taken with the happy couple; make sure enough time is allocated.

Ushering parents: The traditional order for ushering in parents is groom’s grandparents, bride’s grandparents, groom’s mother and father and then the bride’s mother. The bride’s mother is always the last person to be seated and first to be ushered out. Step grandparents should precede birth grandparents. Same with step parents.

Ceremony seating: Much of this depends on your family’s dynamics but there are two traditional options for seating at the ceremony. If parents are still friends, remarried or not, they can sit side by side in the front pew. If not, traditionally the parent you have lived with would sit in the front pew with his or her spouse, and the other parent sit in the second pew with his or her spouse.

Down the Aisle: Consider whether you have remained close to your father and if you want him to fulfill this traditional role; or if your stepfather has filled the role of your father you may decide this is more appropriate. If your father and stepfather get along, you may ask both. If the decision is impossible, choose neither and ask your mother to walk you down the aisle or walk yourself down 

Receiving Line: For the receiving line, customarily the parent, including stepparent, who is paying for the wedding greets the guests with you. Divorced parents do not usually stand together. The line traditionally begins with your mother, followed by the groom's mother, the bride and groom, your maid of honor and the rest of the bridesmaids. The fathers can join in and, if so, should stand to the left of their wives. If your parents are divorced, your mother stands alone or with your stepfather, while your father circulates among the guests. Or, to avoid confusion, decide not to include fathers in the line. The important thing is to avoid hurt feelings or misunderstandings. Another alternative is to have your father and his new wife stand on the other side of the groom. If orchestration becomes difficult, it is perfectly acceptable to mingle and greet your guests during the reception rather than have a receiving line. Whatever works well for your situation is fine.

Reception seating: Separate the parents from the head table and have them host their own table with their respective family and friends.

Dances: Like with your photographer, let your DJ or Master of Ceremonies know about your family situation. Professional DJ’s deal with these situations and have valuable knowledge on how to accommodate sensitive titles with grace and ease.

Toasting: Traditionally, the first toast goes to the parent(s) hosting the wedding. If both parents are hosting, then the bride’s father goes first.  

BanquetEvent Lucky in Love's "Wedding 101", offers practical and inspiration wedding planning tools, advice, and connects you with the vendors who can make the wedding of dreams a reality.  

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