It's a touchy subject and one that tends to end up buried under a mountain of confetti after the big day. Given the nature of the subject, I'm writing it in two parts...
When I was old enough to understand what weddings were all about, my first thought wasn't what my dress would look like or if I'd marry a prince, rather it was whether or not my dad would give me away or be allowed to be there. It might sound odd but if you've grown up with divorced parents you'll know what I'm talking about.
|Me & my dad in 2007|
Up to the point I became engaged, our relationship went through various cycles of speaking and not speaking, being really close and falling out. All the while I agonised over whether or not my mother would be alright having my dad at the wedding and if the rest of my family would be able to be civil for the day. I always wanted to be a daddy's girl and would spend hours watching real weddings on Wedding TV blubbing as the bride's father walked her down the aisle. We didn't have that kind of relationship though, in fact, we hardly knew each other. So, thinking I was being diplomatic, I asked my younger brother to give me away knowing that not only would it be a lovely gesture to involve him but it meant that I wouldn't upset my father or step-dad by asking one of them to instead.
One afternoon I sat down with mum and discussed the taboo subject of "dad and the wedding" and very gracefully she allayed my fears and agreed to put the past aside for the day for me (it was my day after all and I was still his daughter) and that it was ok to invite him.
|Mum accompanied me in the car to the ceremony. It was one of my favourite moments of the day, she kept me calm.|
|My baby brother giving me away|
Three years on, we haven't spoken since that day in May 2008, we were married that August. I've no idea if he knows about our son who is one in two weeks or how well my business is doing, that I've uncovered a whole contingency of his family through this article I wrote and that makes me feel incredibly sad.
For the most part, my clients' planning goes without a hitch and although I've had to be the impartial mediator at times to help them decide how to proceed through the day with their parents to ensure that both parties feel included, we've had no situations such as mine.
If you're wondering how to make it work for yourself, consider these points:
♡ If, like me your parents' relationship is particularly strained, make sure you discuss your wishes for your wedding day early on into your planning so that any issues can be resolved as much as possible by the day itself.
♡ Find a way to include both sets of parents in the planning-perhaps ask dad to find your transport and mum to shop for your dress and cake with you.
♡ A great way to keep both parents happy on the day is to have each parent host their own table with at least one familiar/neutral face on each. It'll make them feel included and should avoid any tensions.
♡ If you feel uncomfortable with a parent being at the reception in case there is bad feeling amongst other family members, then invite them to the ceremony only and arrange to have a meal together to celebrate another time. Explain your reasons. It might seem extreme, but they ought to see your side of the story.
♡ Worried about potential punch ups? Yes, I know it sounds extreme but alcohol is a wonderful catalyst for such things. Let a few trust-worthy, calm and reliable members of your party know your concerns and to keep an eye out during the day so that if anything should arise it can be diffused quickly and without a scene.
It's never an ideal situation to fall out with any family members. Weddings seem to heighten everyone's emotions, they're also the time when you find out both who is important to you and who you're important to. Think rationally before you make any rash decisions in case you regret the consequences. In my father's case it was the nail in the coffin for us-I saw that his reputation was more important than me and I've closed that chapter.
On a happier note, when a family is close there's nothing more wonderful than seeing them spending time celebrating together at the wedding and I love being an honorary member for the day.
How are you finding planning with your family? Are you in or have you been in a similar situation?
Next Week...Wedding Casualties Part Two: Friends & Favours.
Image Credits: Matt Faber Photography