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Did you have your (acrimoniously) divorced parents at your wedding? Can you tell me about it please?

(57 Posts)
pickwickcrocus Fri 22-Aug-14 15:00:38

For background - My parents divorced about fifteen years ago. DM has never got over it and still talks very bitterly about how ddad left her (and us) and how everything that has gone wrong with her life since then is his fault.

She has had serious issues with drinking which she overcame a few years ago (due to the fact that was hospitalised rather than being off her own back), but recently relapsed. She is working on getting through this. While drinking she phones DDad all the time and rants at him. Conversations with us (me and my dsis) are also not much fun as they tend to end in arguments.

Ddad is remarried (to the woman he had an affair with and left my DM for) and has another child. DM has not had another serious relationship since the divorce which she absolutely hates.

I got engaged to my DP a few months ago and since then have been debating what on earth to do with the wedding. We'd love to get married quietly abroad with just my dsis and a few of DP's family. However I feel very guilty for not wanting either of my parents at our wedding and wonder if in the long term I would regret this.

My DM is a complete drama queen and I'm fairly sure would say and/or do things which would stress me out and make the day about her. She is still my mum though and did raise us pretty much by herself and I think she would feel awful about not being invited. I get on really well with my Ddad and he has already said that we just need to do whatever makes us happy.

We would have a big party when we got back as we have a large family and really want to celebrate with them all (I just want the actual wedding wedding to be a quiet but lovely affair). I would invite DM and ddad to this as it would be fine with lots and lots of people around, and friends and family.

So I guess what I am asking is, if your family situation is similar to this, what did you do on your wedding day? Did it all turn out okay or did you regret whatever decision you made?

So as not to drip feed, we have recently found out that we are expecting another baby. We thought we would wait til after the baby was born to get married but actually, we are now seriously considering doing it before hand. This may mean we have to get married in the UK as I wouldn't be able to fly, but the same principles apply in terms of having a quiet wedding and big party afterwards (probably a while after baby arrived). So I have to also factor pregnancy hormones into my wedding plans! (Dm seriously stressed me out during my last pregnancy).

Sorry, this has turned out a bit rambly and I thought I was doing so well at being succinct - there's probably stuff I have missed out too! Any and all advice and opinions will be very gratefully received though. Thank you.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 22-Aug-14 15:13:15

Seems like a no-brainer to me. smile Quiet wedding with people who are guaranteed to behave themselves every time. Stiff words with both parents before the party when you get back along the lines of 'behave yourselves'. If you get earache from either of them about missing the actual ceremony tell them why they weren't invited. Start as you mean to go on.

Roseformeplease Fri 22-Aug-14 15:16:59

Don't invite them. My alcoholic mother did a lot to make the weddings of myself, and my siblings really awful. She shouted, ranted and was a total pain. My Dad was re-married and bore the brunt of it however, at every wedding one sibling or another would have to watch her to keep her away from the bride / key members of the wedding party. At one wedding my DH resorted to giving her more and more to drink in the hope that she would pass out and, therefore, shut up with her drunken rants. Awful

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 22-Aug-14 15:34:09

When dh told his (also alcoholic - that certainly never adds to the fun!) mum that we were getting married, the first thing she said was "well, I won't be able to come" - as his dad (also 15+ years later married to the woman he left dh's mum for - again, that probably doesn't help) would be there - this despite her being happily married again. She did come though, and although she didn't cause any trouble to us at the time, apparently she spent the entire time telling anyone who came near about how bitter she was, etc etc, all with her husband sitting next to her. Things have been difficult enough with her over the years since, and I do think that if we had got married without her, that that would just be another thing that she would still be dragging up to complain about now, which would really be fucking annoying, so probably best overall that we did persuade her to come.

tiredtoday Fri 22-Aug-14 15:35:00

I had a similar situation to yours. . we married overseas with no guests. . and had a party when we got back. Dont regret a minute of it

Nomama Fri 22-Aug-14 15:36:57

Yes. Similar situation plus an alcoholic SFIL.

We told the photographer, got 2 sets of 'parent' photos, MIL smiled nicely in both of them. FILs 7 month pregnant girlfriend (she is younger than DH) stood out of the family ones but my sister shoved her well into the group ones. So we do have pictures of all the people who mattered.

But I did read MIL the riot act and told her that the first to squeak would get uninvited. She must have believed me as she just acted her usual pissed up party princess all day!

pickwickcrocus Fri 22-Aug-14 15:41:52

Thanks so much for the replies. To clarify, I don't think DM would drink on the wedding day, though if anything was going to push her back to it, it would be a day like this (at the moment she has not been drinking again for about 3 weeks, so it's very early days but she does seem to be doing well). It would be more of the fact that there was an atmosphere, and people in the wedding group who actively loathed each other!

I kind of pictured a cosy meal at a local taverna with everyone relaxing and laughing and generally feeling loved up. This definitely wouldn't happen if my DM, ddad and wife/child were there. It would be strained and tense and I guess that's what I am really worried about.

I am also a bit worried that everyone in my family will think I am an awful person to not invite my parents to my wedding day, in spite of everything that has happened (there is a lot of history obviously with my mum, everyone in the family knows that she used to drink, but most don't know she has relapsed and what her current situation is).

I feel so confused and when I cautiously mentioned the whole getting married abroad idea to my DM she gave me a huge guilt trip about not getting to enjoy the best bits of her daughters life and being given all the rubbish (ie raising us, thanks mum). This made me feel even more like I didn't want her there, because if she couldn't be reasonable to me by myself, how on earth would she hold her tongue and not make some pointed comments on our wedding day.

Sorry, am just trying to work through all my thoughts on this. There is so much to do before baby arrives (with our house) and now thinking about potentially getting married, that it helps just writing things down and try to get a bit of clarity!

Heels99 Fri 22-Aug-14 15:43:55

Oh god yes. They hadn't spoken for 18 years and dm said it would be a knife through her heart if DF made a speech.

However they both behaved fine on today although am now NC with dm. She hated every minute of the wedding and wrote me a horrid letter about it after. Que sera, she managed to contain it on the day. Wish she hadn't come though, she really didn't want to.

You are doing right thing op, good luck

Nomama Fri 22-Aug-14 15:48:46

Just remember one thing we probably all share: we did what we thought we could deal with.

Don't let anyone guilt you into anything you can't imagine coping with.

I slipped up with SIL and her girlfriend's somewhat up and down relationship. I ended up slapping the girlfriend and telling her to shape up or ship out as it was my wedding day and she damn well wasn't going to ruin it. In hindsight I needed a bot of a release and she provided me with the perfect oulet ... throwing a tissy during my reception that we didn't like her I named her on the fucking invitation didn't I?. Pah!

Meerka Fri 22-Aug-14 15:52:10

pickwickcrocus if it's any help, how do you think you would feel in the future if you didn't invite her/them?

If it's any help, this was the clincher for me. I realised that if I invited them they would taint the day and that if I looked back in 15 years' time I would be sorry I invited them, glad if I didn't.

So they weren't invited.

Are you quite sure you couldn't fly? How late on in the preg (congratulatoins!) would it be?

girliefriend Fri 22-Aug-14 15:54:05

My brothers have both got married in the last two years and it was stressful having both parents there (they split about 7 yrs ago.) My mum is really bitter about the break up and there was an 'atmosphere' at times.

However I don't think not inviting them is the answer, I would talk to them both about your concerns and hope that they can behave like adults and let you enjoy the day. For the first wedding my dad didn't bring his then partner (now new wife) and that was def eaiser. Now they are married was a bit more difficult not to invite her to the second wedding.

CookieDoughKid Fri 22-Aug-14 15:58:13

I actually think you should give the option for your parents to not be there. Pass the buck back to them. Although I do understand the place where your mother is at. I don't think I could enjoy your special day because of your dad. Just being honest. How about separate the event. Mum for the ceremony and dad for the party?

KentOwl Fri 22-Aug-14 16:07:15

Our situation was very similar. My mum doesn't behave badly around my dad and his partner, it's just the atmosphere (and that I know she's disappearing into dark corners to cry at regular intervals - major downer). Plus my dad's partner herself seems unable to make an effort and acts like she'd rather be almoat anywhere else. It taints all family events - I hate it. So mo way - not at our wedding. We had a super quiet wedding with just two guests (family friends who just happened to live locally) in Cornwall. It was magical. Then a wonderful party when we got back - loads of people - mum and dad seated miles away from each other - no problems at all. It worked out perfectly for us. It's so personal to your situation though, what will work for you. But I am so grateful for our wonderful ceremony in Cornwall, totally untainted by any of that family stuff.

BackforGood Fri 22-Aug-14 16:07:52

Am reading with interest as my lovely God-daughter is going to have similar issues when she decides to get married sad.
I agree with those who are saying I think you need to put it back on your Mum, and say that you would like her to be there, but only if she feels she can cope with attending, without ruining the atmosphere. Emphasise that this ought to be one of the happiest days of your life and you want to share it with all your family, but if she can't swallow her own feelings for a few hours and put you first, then, quite frankly, you'd be prepared to get married without her being there.
Then still have a quiet, small / shortish 'do', and ask a suitable relative or friend of hers specifically to sit by her and keep her in line if she looks like she is struggling.
Unless just the 2 of you go off alone, I think it would be very sad to not offer her the chance to come.

GemmaTeller Fri 22-Aug-14 16:11:06

My son got married last year. I have not spoken to EXH for years.

I attended with my DH and EXH attended with his wife.

I managed to be in the same room as them for about 8 hours and ignored both of them.

We all had a good day.

CointreauVersial Fri 22-Aug-14 16:20:05

I got married 12 years ago, medium sized wedding, with 30-odd at the ceremony/lunch and another 70 for the evening party and reception.

My parents divorced when I was a baby, and both remarried years ago, but the split was rather acrimonious because DM left DDad for the Best Man (so DDad's childhood friend). They are still together 45 years on. So, lots of history, BUT by the time I got married it was over 30 years in the past.

I told all four parents/steps that they were all invited, but if anyone was going to bitch/complain/cause trouble, then they could stay at home. I wasn't going to leave anyone out - after all, for once, the day was about me not them.

To their credit, they were good as gold. It was DDad I was most worried about, having spent years listening to spiteful comments about his former friend and wife...but he shook hands with DSDad and, believe it or not, after a few drinks they ended up having a little chat, swapping stories about friends in common, and so on - they didn't exactly end up back as bosom buddies, and DDad was a bit monosyllabic, but it definitely broke the ice. They have since bumped into each other a couple of times at school reunions. DDad still bitches about him, though. grin DM and DSM have never had a problem with each other, so that was fine too. A few years later all four attended my 40th birthday party.

So it is possible, but in my case a lot of time had passed, both have happy second marriages, and none of them (as far as I know) are alcoholics...

DreamingofSummer Fri 22-Aug-14 16:32:25

I went to a wedding years ago of a friend from university where both sets of parents were divorced and remarried. So at the reception there were 8 parents on the top table all looking daggers at each other.

Both the father of the bride and the step-father of the bride insisted on making speeches each trying to outdo the other. The father also insisted that the best man's speech as no more than "thank you for coming and here's a toast to the happy couple."

None of the four couples would agree to pay for an evening reception, so after a single toast and the longest 90 minutes of my life it was back home in time for Dr Who.

They'd have been better off at the registry office followed by a piss-up for college mates. Sod the parents

pickwickcrocus Fri 22-Aug-14 16:46:59

Thanks again everyone, I have a guest over at the moment so can't reply properly but will read everything thoroughly later and reply when dd has gone to bed.

pickwickcrocus Fri 22-Aug-14 20:17:20

There are a lot of interesting and varied experiences, I think that is probably the issue really - that there are positives and negatives to each scenario and at the moment it is trying to decide which ones feel the most doable. I don't want to feel guilty but equally I don't want to be stressed or worried on my one and only wedding day!

I hadn't thought of passing it back to DM and ddad and letting them decide. I know DM would say she would be absolutely fine and of course she wouldn't spoil the atmosphere but saying and doing are totally different things! I wonder if I could use this idea though and also what someone else suggested and suggest that they can come to one part and they have to decide which one. I would most like ddad to be at the ceremony and DM at the party - because it would be mainly dm's huge family at the party. Food for thought.

Then another part of me gets really annoyed and I think that actually, we are allowed to think about just us on this one day and maybe they will just have to deal with the consequences of their behaviour, past and present. We haven't even thought about location (other than 'abroad'!), I haven't looked at dresses or thought about food or anything wedding related - literally the only thing I have thought about is how to handle the situation with my parents!

rumbleinthrjungle Fri 22-Aug-14 20:20:03

I helped my sister get through this a few years ago - will never do it myself, it will be a run away job if I ever put my name on a marriage certificate.

DF came with his partner, needed a lot of hand holding and reassurance that he wouldn't have to be near DM to agree to come at all and came more or less in armour. DM came with me, spent a lot of the day near tears, had a miserable time and was very upset by the time I suggested to her that we discreetly went home as she'd had all she could take. Frankly it wasn't nice and it did have an effect on what was otherwise a really lovely day. As my sister said, it's ONE DAY where she needed them to behave like grown ups and just get it together for her as her parents, but it was a huge pressure on her. Mostly (as they both behaved beautifully and always would have done) that she was aware how difficult it was for them and so much of the day had to be about how to keep them apart and managed and being aware of them. And all the jealousies to handle of who got to do what, make what speech and so on. Of course for them it was a day of what might have been, their first kid to be married etc, so it must have been emotional for them as well as all the stress of seeing each other after years of no contact.

What did we do? A lot of planning and preparation. I spent the day managing DM, we had it planned to the last place where she would be and doing what so that we gave her as little time as possible to be alone or upset. DSis planned the seating plan as best she possibly could to surround both parents at separate ends of the room with people they'd enjoy being with and who would be aware of the need to keep them occupied. It was a very relaxed venue and planned day, and no formal speeches, particularly not either of them having to get up and talk. As much as we possibly could we arranged it that they never laid eyes on each other or had to be anywhere near each other, and DM's sister was great in supporting with this. I know it's often frowned on on MN, but she also planned it as a late morning wedding, afternoon tea with family and friends that was very child friendly as a lot of young children in the family at that time, and then a disco in the evening to which a lot more friends were invited. DM and DF therefore both left around 5pm as the kids went home and she got to relax through the evening without them there. DF and DM were also quite glad to go by then. It worked in terms that there was never a tricky moment, but it wasn't pleasant.

It was a day it came back to me horribly what she and I used to quietly talk about when we were kids and the divorce was in process: that sometimes we wished together that when parents got divorced they just had the kids put to sleep so they didn't have to be the left over bits of something both their parents wished had never happened.

pickwickcrocus Fri 22-Aug-14 20:43:38

rumble that last sentence of yours is very sad.

The exact situation that you've described is why I'm so undecided - I want my wedding day to be happy and full of laughter, not 'unpleasant'!!

Dp thinks we should just run away grin

springydaffs Fri 22-Aug-14 20:52:29

Sorry to state the obvious, but have you, in the past, shown compassion towards your mum for what was a devastating betrayal? It's not easy when adult dc's blithely go along with the new set-up; and find the devastation of the betrayed tiresome.

I haven't put that very well. I have a number of friends in your mum's position and, although my friends don't expect their kids to entirely take sides against the betrayer, they find it very difficult when their children brush it all under the carpet and exhort/force the betrayed to 'move on'. Some people never fully 'move on' from a significant betrayal, which is not unlike a bereavement and can be debilitating.

At least the betrayed found a dark corner to weep into (pp). I wonder if the betrayed would fare better if they knew they were supported, their significant pain recognised, not seen as a 'downer' or a pain. For some people the pain cuts really deep, but pressure is put on them to 'move on' and bury the past. Some people just can't, and neither should they imo - it's cruel to expect it.

I'm not suggesting all the betrayed are whiter than white, the betrayer black - I'm sure some are a pita and willfully refuse to give up their outrage and sense of injustice, determined to bring everyone down with them. But the fact does remain that all have been significantly betrayed (sexual betrayal is excruciatingly painful), lost the future they fully expected, and invested in; lost financial security etc - and on top had to stand back while someone else took what was theirs. For the family to then expect them to 'get over it' is just too much. Your mum may not have put it very well, but she is right that she was left with the donkey work while the transgressor sailed off into the sunset, or appeared to. She may be very sensitive to being given 'the dregs', the second-best..

You probably think I sound like her! Sorry for being long-winded.

TheHouseatWhoCorner Fri 22-Aug-14 21:08:12

My MIL was still very bitter about her divorce from FIL 25 years ago. He has remarried, she hasn't.

She was devastated when she discovered both were invited to our wedding. We tried to reassure her, make sure she would be sat near friends during service and she saw the seating plan well in advance.

She said she couldn't come. Got upset, ill and ended up on antidepressants.

I got stressed from the whole palava bring overshadowed by this drama. Until I decided that I'd done my best, made it as accommodating as possible. I couldn't change her feelings.

She came, everyone was friendly and had a good time. She threw away the ADs the week after.

I'm glad they all came, but resent the build up to my wedding being all about MIL.

DesperatelySeekingSedatives Fri 22-Aug-14 21:10:09

Not me but my sister got married a few years ago and at the time our parents had been divorced 20 years. Our dad decided to handle the whole situation the way he does anything to do with our mother: pretend she does not exist. Literally. he ignored her all day and mentioned her just once in his bloody long speech and not even by name just as "brides mother". hmm Very bad form.

I'd like to tell you that mum was better behaved but she wasn't. She bitched, she moaned, she sobbed in the toilet and told one of Dsis's poor friends her whole life story about how shit her life is. She threatened to hit the bottle again (another former/recovered alcoholic) despite being about 15 years dry at the time. I wont lie, I hid from her after a while. I just couldn't face being piggy in the middle and after physically separating my parents at my own child's christening not long before that when they started up (mum threatened to drink that day as well. noticing a pattern here...) I couldn't be arsed with it again. I tore my dad a new one for being rude and left it at that.

Suffice it to say if I ever bother getting married neither are invited Me and my groom will elope or something. If I was you I'd go with the quiet stress free wedding and the big lovely party afterwards and do not let yourself be guilt tripped. You deserve a nice wedding day without any fallouts and they brought this on themselves anyway with their previous unreasonable behaviour. Hopefully they will accept that in time. More importantly, I hope you get the wedding you want and deserve smile

springydaffs Fri 22-Aug-14 21:21:04

Actually, I'd like it if my friends, forever after the betrayal, were given top billing between them; that the betrayer, though accepted and welcomed, would always come second place to the betrayed. And that's how it would stay ad infinitum.

I am appalled that you refer to your MIL's legitimate anguish as 'this drama' , Thehouse.

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