I Didn’t Want A Wedding. He did.

I was not in to the idea of a wedding. Yes, I’m enjoying the planning process now. Yes, it’s been amazingly fun to try on dresses. But a wedding was not something I was convinced that I wanted.

When I initally told N this (years ago), he was stunned. I seem like a wedding-loving kind of girl. I’ve watched nearly every episode of Say Yes to the Dress, I pin lots of wedding stuff to Pinterest (which worked out in my favor – he sent pins that I had pinned of engagement rings to the jeweler), and I’m generally kind of a girly girl. Plus, I’ve been super excited to attend every wedding we’ve ever attended. So I could see people thinking that I’d want a wedding. But I just didn’t.

Then he stunned me: he absolutely wanted a wedding. He could not imagine not having a wedding. Now he’s a practical guy. If we’re talking practicality, weddings are not a genius financial move. Let’s blow all of our money (and some of our parents money!) on one day! YES! Wedding or no wedding, we aren’t doing that. I didn’t think he’d want to spend the money and I also figured he’d be grateful to take this big, stressful event out of the picture.

I put eloping on the table. He took it off. I suggested a teeny tiny wedding with immediate family and best friends only, essentially a nice dinner at a good restaurant. The more he thought about it, the more he couldn’t imagine having that day without his entire family and large friend group. He wants a wedding.

So we’re having a wedding.

Two goobers. I just freaking love him.
Two goobers. I just freaking love him.

I’m excited. I’m having fun planning. But most of all, I’m nervous. Nervous because the reason I didn’t want a wedding wasn’t because I don’t love dresses and centerpieces and open bars (come on, of course I do). It’s because I haven’t been in the same room as both of my parents in well over a decade. The effects of their divorce linger, which seems to be true of nearly all divorces, so this is not unique. It’s not in a way that effects me every day. But in a way that, each time I think about the wedding day, I realize that I’ll be in the same room as my Mom and Step-Dad, and my Dad and Step-Mom. And that makes me uncomfortable. My stress level rises immediately. This is not their fault. It’s the reaction I have and that is my issue. I worry that I won’t be able to let go and let loose at my own wedding. That I’ll constantly be worried as I’m interacting with one set of parents that the other is getting their feelings hurt. Because most of all, weddings are family affairs. They bring everyone together. But what if that’s not something I’m sure I can do?

My parents loving, wonderful adults who all want the best for me. I’m sure it will be fine. But I consider every tiny interaction between me and my parents. What if I hurt someones feelings? What if someone doesn’t feel loved enough? Included enough? I love them all so much and am so grateful for all they’ve done for me. Each greatly influnced the person I’ve become, bit by bit, piece by piece. I can’t imagine not having them all there as I commit my life to N. My hope is that on the day of, I just feel love and not anxiety.

I feel blessed to be so loved. But it doesn’t mean that it feels easy. These things never are. Because at the end of the day, I do want a wedding. I want a day that is beautifully normal. I want to wear a pretty dress and smile and cry with happiness (I’m certain that part will happen). I want to commit my life to N in front of our families and friends and I want to give him the wedding that he wants.

What I’ve gotten from this is that someone really really needs to write a book about How to Plan a Wedding with Divorced Parents. Or actually, How to Calm Your Anxiety about Being in the Same Room with Your Divorced Parents: A Guide for the Neurotic Bride. I could write it, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

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  • hahahah! I went through How to Calm Your Anxiety about Being in the Same Room with Your Divorced Parents: A Guide for the Neurotic Bride a month ago, and actually, it wasnt that bad. I didnt want a wedding; the whole run up was spent stressing about everyone being in a room together, and then when my Husbands Mum insisted on meeting my parents first, i also had to arrange an awkward dinner for all parents and parents partners. He comes from a family where no one is divorced, and its not normal.
    So anyway, on the day everyone was super well behanved, and it wasnt as bad as I thought. So fingers crossed for you, love! x

  • I say this with love Nadine… you’re going to have to get over this. The sooner you do it, the happier you’ll be. Yes, it’ll be awkward, but if you & N have kids, it’s going to come up A LOT. When we had Ella, both of Eric’s parents waited in the waiting room. When we have birthday parties, all 3 sides of our family are there. His parents don’t love it & honestly they don’t interact with each other all that much at these events, but they always move past it for the sake of us. Deep breaths… it’ll be fine!

  • Ah, family drama. What wedding isn’t complete without that?

    But, I understand. Or at least as much as I can without being in your shoes. I’ve attended/helped/been in A TON of weddings and I have some friends who have had AWFUL family situations and it was so stressful for them during the planning and leading up to the day. But for the most part, it was okay. There were a few moments here and there that weren’t… let’s say “ideal.” At the end of the day though, the weddings were still beautiful. The music was awesome. The food was fantastic. And most importantly – they were married. And everyone in their families seemed to keep that in mind and try to keep the drama away so they could enjoy and celebrate with the bride and groom.

    Breathe. Have some wine. Look at N and remember he’s why you’re there. That’s what matters.

    ::hugs::

  • I’m not facing a wedding but after five years I still haven’t figured out how to deal with my divorced parents and their new partners when I’m meeting more than just one couple. They’re pretty cool and they’re cool with each other but I still don’t know how to even tell one of them that the other one sends greetings and asks how they’re doing.

    But in the very, very few situations (one? two?) when they actually met and I felt like something terrible just had to happen the very next moment I realized that everything was fine. I’m their daughter, they’re my parents, I love them, they love me (I guess ;)) and that’s what counts. Even if it was a problem for them to meet each other it wouldn’t be my problem – and I think in your case it isn’t yours either.

    So just relax, keep looking forward to your wedding and be sure that no huge meteor of awkwardness and guilt is about to strike. 🙂

  • Kim

    I’ve commented here before on the topic of divorce and I literally just got goosebumps because, yet again, I am in the exact same situation – though not yet actually engaged… but contemplating all the same issues. The only time my parents ever truly “behaved” for the sake of my well-being was when I was on the operating table eleven years ago. As you say, obviously this isn’t unique, but… I just cannot imagine a group event with everyone in one space as an enjoyable, relaxed experience, as much as I love and deeply appreciate (and am actually close to) both sides of my family. Plus I also love weddings and consider myself “girly girl,” and would love the planning!

    Someone else commented about just getting over it, which I agree with to a degree… I decided not to care at my graduation, and… family members’ feelings did get hurt and I still hear about it today. (Despite all my efforts to plan for this in advance.) But at the time I just let it roll off my back and still have positive memories of the weekend. In conclusion… I’m sure you will too, but I feel you! I would also appreciate a book on that subject! 😉

  • This is our story!!! I tried so so so hard to convince my fiancé to elope or do the small wedding thing… alas were having a good ole big traditional wedding I don’t have the same reasons as you for not wanting a big wedding but I am with ya! Solidarity sister YA YA!

  • JC

    I had the same exact conversation with my fiance. No elopement, no tiny wedding, he wants the whole shebang. I also have divorced parents, and have the same stress about them being in the same room, I never had a college graduation, because my high school one ended so badly. I really hope that your day turns out to be everything you hoped and wedding planning goes smoothly. Also add to that book list “wedding planning with 2 moms that both want to be involved”. Talk about a balancing act!!

  • Sounds like you’ve got a best-selling idea for a book on your hands! I totally get where you’re coming from… my immediate family doesn’t talk to my grandfather but other family members do. My grandmom relies on him for transportation so to invite just her would open up a logistics can of worms. There is no doubt I would never invite him and no one would ever make me, but that’s also sad too. Because he is my grandfather and he is my Mom’s Dad and it’s sad that he’s done things that make it impossible to have him in my life. Good luck wedding planning! Maybe write them each a letter or talk to them explaining your anxieties? I’m sure their reassurance would go a long way!

  • Ha. I’ll help you write that book. I’ll add the chapter on how to have a first dance with a father you only see once a year and how to make sure your alcoholic stepfather doesn’t dance on the table.

    It’s fine. I survived. Hahaha.

  • Gee, this is tough. B’s parents are divorced and our biggest fears were between his father and his father’s in-laws :/. I know he sat them all down and threatened to never letting them see grand/great-grand kids if any drama went down (true story), although I’m not sure if I would have done that in his shoes.

    I think the fact that you worry about it proves you’ll do the best for everyone involved. But remember, your parents (all 4 of them) want this day to be about YOU and N and YOUR happiness 🙂

  • Liza

    I love that N wanted the bigger wedding, it’s fun to read about a couple where the “wedding wishlist” is opposite from the usual! Do you watch Parks & Rec? Remember when Ben’s parents were finally in the same room! It can’t be worse than that!

  • I wanted to elope- like seriously. But then I realized how much our friends and family wanted to celebrate with us, and that made it special to me.

  • Val

    My wedding was the first time my divorced parents had seen each other in about a decade and my mom HATES my dad so I was super nervous. All of that fell away the morning of. We scheduled photos apart and that worked fine and they ran into each other during photos and they were both so happy to be at the wedding and to see me happy that they just were cordial and then left it. We only had 35 people at our wedding so it was super tiny, but they were able to avoid each other fine during the reception and I never heard of any weirdness or awkwardness. I honestly didn’t think about it again the whole day and I am a STRESSER so that’s a big deal. I promise it will be fine. Everyone is just so happy the whole day, they don’t care about other stuff.

  • Wow. I think we’re related somehow? ;]
    I got married four years ago and as a kid – heck, even as a teenager, I didn’t only think I wouldn’t have a wedding… I didn’t WANT to get married. I don’t think that part has anything to do with the fact that my parents divorced though. I just didn’t think I wanted to get married.
    Then I met “The One” and I know that sounds cliche and silly, but I knew when I met him that we would get married eventually. (Eventually being four years after we started dating.)
    When wedding planning came in to play it was kind of weird for me. My parents are divorced and my mom re-married, but my dad never did. (I don’t think he’s over my mom to this day.) It was kind of weird working out plans with both sides. Our invitations read “Together with their familes, so and so would like your attendance at their wedding…” (something along those lines) instead of the traditional, “Mr. and Mrs. Groom’s Parents and Mr. and Mrs. Bride’s parents…” because the bride has three parents and I didn’t want to leave anyone out.
    I also walked down the aisle with both my dad and my step-dad.
    Honestly though, on the day of the wedding everything went perfectly and I’m so glad we were able to have the wedding with all of our family members.
    I wish you the best of luck! Don’t stress too much. It will all be okay!

    – Runt

  • I hope your parents read your blog, As a step mom we have attended many occasions together, heck we even hosted a grad party at Kent’s ex’x house and she and I prepared everything together. Luckily Kent and his ex made a pact years ago even before kids, were they agreed no matter what the kids would come first and they would work together to ensure that they did not feel torn or split.
    As for a wedding, I am sure they all love you and will accept that of course your Dad has his special spot and your mom will have hers and the steps will be the grown ups that they are and do everything to make this your day. Good Luck and I know it will all work out for you

  • I would love to be able to do my wedding over, now that I am older and wiser and know what I want but that isn’t going to happen

  • I was the opposite! I always dreamed of having a big wedding day and then my husband and I decided to run away and elope instead. We’ve now been married for almost two years and I don’t regret our choice one bit 🙂

  • Everyone who comes to your wedding is there to celebrate you, and your happiness. While everyone will want to spend time with you, tell you how beautiful you are, how perfectly matched you and your fiance/husband are and take photos with you, everyone also knows that you are limited in your time. That includes all of your parental units. Although it’s easier said than done, don’t worry. Everyone will have a wonderful time, because they’ll be enjoying your joy. It truly is as simple as that.

  • aww, just make sure to have an amazing friend be your wing lady during the entire weekend and be ready to swoop in and pull you out of any even-the-slightest-bit-stressful situations. That can be a life saver!!
    xox
    giedre

  • My parents weren’t officially divorced until February or March of 2014. Our wedding was June 2014. I had so much anxiety over how they would react to each other and how everything would go down. My dad was bringing his soon to be fiance to the wedding (this was one of my conditions to get him divorced faster-my parents had to be officially divorced before his mistress could be invited to the wedding). Despite all my worrying and stressing, they were both fine. I think my dad drank too much, and Cathy (the mistress) had to be put to bed early, but they were fine. My dad still walked me down the aisle. My parents sat together at the ceremony (Cathy was with her friends a few rows away).

    What you will find is that your parents and their husbands/wives will be just fine. They will manage how to interact with each other and how to handle the situation. My parents are NOT in a good place with each other, but they put on a brave face for us – because it’s our wedding day and we should be the focus…not them. They did that for us, and I appreciated it.

    All of this to say that you can stress all you want, but they will figure it out and probably surprise you with how civil everything is. Divorce is a crazy situation.

  • Kelly

    I went through this exact same thing BUT with the exception that I took the, “They decided to get divorced, and they had to know this day would come…” tact. In other words, although you say that this is your issue, it’s really kinda not your issue. You are going to be a bride that day. End. Of . Story. It is their job as the “adults” in this situation to make nice, or avoid each other, or ::gasp:: enjoy the evening together (which, sidenote, is surprisingly what my parents decided to do!). As one other commenter said, if/when you have kiddos it will only be even more pronounced, so you may as well let it go now. Also? You will be way too busy having a fantastic time as the main focus of a super fun and happy event to be preoccupied with your parent’s behavior. Hopefully so will they.

  • Allison

    Might I suggest the archives of apracticalwedding.com? There are tons of great posts about navigating issues with divorced parents and other complicated issues and feelings. It was definitely a lifesaver for me during the planning process!

  • It’s on them, not you to be grownups. If it makes you feel better, have a family brunch/dinner with everyone to practice. Honestly from what I’ve seen at weddings, you won’t have time to worry about paying equal amounts of attention to each of them you’re pulled in so many directions.

    When we got married, we didn’t worry about my divorced for 25 years parents – they’re basically bffs, we worried about his married for almost 30 year parents behaving because well, things weren’t good there. To give you an idea of why we rightfully worried, my MIL was a drunk hot mess the night before our wedding and day of I had my husband tell her if someone even had to look at her to remind her to behave I was going to let my mother deal with her. Other than one glass of wine which I raised my eyebrow to, she behaved. (I would have told her myself, but I didn’t want to deal with her.)

  • Ive been enjoying your blog! I came across it today on Pinterest.

    I just want to say as a part time wedding photographer, they day will be So busy you wont have time to worry about who spends time with who. 🙂

    The day is going to fly by in a blink and be a whirlwind of love & fun.

    A wedding tip I have all my couples do… Take at least 5 minutes alone after the ceremony. Take that 5 minutes to take it in and have a private moment as husband and wife. You wont have any private moments the whole day! ha ha. Pictures and everyone can wait that 5 minutes. 🙂

    Have a wonderful wedding!

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