The Chronicle of the Horse
MagazineNewsHorse SportsHorse CareCOTH StoreVoicesThe Chronicle UntackedDirectoriesMarketplaceDates & Results
 
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 32
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010
    Location
    where the red fern grows
    Posts
    330

    Default Anybody have experience managing messily-divorced parents at a wedding?

    I recently got engaged (at a horse show too!) and am starting to realize how difficult it will be to meld 2 families that can't stand each other into one place.

    My mother and father divorced, very bitterly, when I was 16. As far as I can tell, they were never really happy- they just did that "staying together for the kids" thing. Finally it got to the point where Dad was sleeping in the spare room for 2+ years, Mom was snide and condescending and rude to him or about him at any opportunity, and they finally decided to get divorced.

    The divorce was as messy as they come (in fact at one point Mom's new boyfriend slashed Dad's tires and threatened to kill him; police had to be involved and a restraining order put in place) This was 11+ years ago.

    To this day, I have an extremely strained and superficial relationship with my mother. I have a close and loving relationship with my father. Mom hates this- she would like nothing more than if I kicked my Dad out of my life. She has come to terms with the fact that I am close to him, but I think it has actually driven the wedge further between us.

    Mom HATES Dad's family (with whom I am very close). She is very manipulative and judgmental, and she can be extremely rude and is not above making a scene in public places. She needs to be treated with kid gloves or she has the potential to embarrass you terribly.

    I should add as well that I have a younger brother that I am not very close to, that may or may not come, that has the exact opposite relationship with our parents. He and my mother are extremely close, but little brother has not spoken to Dad in several years, for no apparent reason. Dad asks me to let him know what is going on in little brother's life, and forward on blogs he writes, etc, so that Dad just knows what his son is up to. I could write a book about the dysfunction there, but the important thing to note is that little brother who does not speak to father may or may not show up as well.

    So here's the dilemma. Mom and Dad will both be at my wedding. Most of Dad's family will be there. Dad's new wife is not planning to attend, which I think is probably for the best where this situation is concerned (although I would never have asked her not to attend). I highly doubt that any of Mom's family will show up (although I intend on inviting at least a few of them). It is a rather tight ceremony and reception area.

    I am very concerned about my mother making a scene or in some other way causing me extreme stress the day of or the days leading up to it. Has anybody had success diffusing drama caused by divorced parents who can't get over it? I know I probably need to say something to her. I'm not sure how to phrase it without her being offended, and there is a fairly good chance just mentioning the fact that I want her to behave herself could cause her to go over the deep end, so to speak.

    I want my mother to be there, and I really don't want to have to be upset on my wedding day because she got mad and left, or is copping an attitude or whatever.

    Also- what would you do as far as seating? Obviously they will be at separate tables. My fiance's parents are divorced as well, although that was fairly amicable. Perhaps I put the moms at one table and the dads at another? And the ceremony- I don't even want to put my parents in the same row.
    The best is yet to come



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2012
    Location
    Fern Creek, KY
    Posts
    3,010

    Default

    Honestly?

    I wouldn't invite her... however, I don't think that that's the right way to go about it. I would seat her as far away from your father and his family as I could. Can you recruit a friend to 'baby-sit' your Mom, just to make sure that she doesn't make a scene?
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    2,691

    Default

    Hmm .. tough situation on a day that should be filled with joy.

    Is there anybody on your mother's side of the family who could be enlisted to keep an eye on her during the wedding and reception? (Several years ago I filled a role somewhat similar to that at a wedding - in that case being seated next to a potentially problematic aunt.)



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010
    Location
    where the red fern grows
    Posts
    330

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Superminion View Post
    Can you recruit a friend to 'baby-sit' your Mom, just to make sure that she doesn't make a scene?
    Funny you say that- my best friend's husband is a director for a food service company and has some well-honed customer service skills including a knack for diffusing upset people. She has offered him up as a babysitter of sorts
    Last edited by simc24; Dec. 17, 2012 at 08:07 PM. Reason: spelling
    The best is yet to come


    10 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010
    Location
    where the red fern grows
    Posts
    330

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RainyDayRide View Post
    Hmm .. tough situation on a day that should be filled with joy.

    Is there anybody on your mother's side of the family who could be enlisted to keep an eye on her during the wedding and reception? (Several years ago I filled a role somewhat similar to that at a wedding - in that case being seated next to a potentially problematic aunt.)
    She's not really close with any of her family, nor am I. My Dad has suggested I let my mother invite a couple of her friends, and hopefully their presence would rein her in. I have a small venue and tight guest list, but that may be a necessary thing to do!
    The best is yet to come


    2 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2008
    Posts
    7,338

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by simc24 View Post
    Funny you say that- my best friend's husband is a director for a food service company and has some well-honed customer service skills including a knack for diffusing upset people. She has offered him up as a babysitter of sorts
    Take her up on that. I mean it. It is entirely appropriate to assign keepers instructed to quarantine potentially rabid family members as necessary. That's not rude, it's good wedding planning.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 28, 2007
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    4,164

    Default

    You could have a party for your legal (license) marriage and one that is a religious one, each on separate days with different guests. You might have to scale down the church wedding but you might have fun.
    My college roomate invited me to her Muslim wedding with her family and had a separate wedding in her husbands state and church (Cathloic), which I didn't attend (I think I was invited to both and chose the closer one).



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 24, 2009
    Posts
    1,201

    Default

    Not exactly the same, but similar -

    My (now ex-) husband didn't want to invite his SIL to our wedding. He was quite adamant about it. She had always been very condescending towards him and honestly she really had a few screws loose. The brother knew this about his wife and had kept her pretty tightly reined in some situations at the parents' house.

    Anyway, my ex would not even hear of including her on the invite - he wanted one sent to his brother ONLY, and went as far as to tell his mom to make sure the brother understood that she was NOT invited. The brother was upset because he didn't believe his wife would in fact come to the wedding, but if the invite went to both of them he could still come even if she didn't. He felt it was a real slap on the face to his wife to not include her on the invite and that he wouldn't be able to come to the wedding.

    So ... the brother ended up not coming. Their mom was more than a little upset about the whole thing, but she seemed to be the only one that was. (she wanted my ex to invite both his brother and the SIL so the brother could attend and the SIL would decline).

    Actually we kept our wedding very small (immediate family only and a few of our very best friends) as we were paying for it ourselves, and his mom wasn't able to invite any of her friends. So she had a reception at her house (complete with a 2nd wedding cake, and fully catered). In fact she left our 'official' reception early to get the other reception set up. Brother didn't come to that one either.

    My sister got married 2 years ago and her FIL is a piece of work, esp after he's had a few. I was the matron/maid of honor and I had a talk with him prior to the festivities. I was polite but firm and I asked him to refrain from any comments or I would personally plant a foot in his @ss in front of all his family and friends. He actually listened to me - I do think that the MIL actually really kept him in line too.

    I would take your friend's offer of the husband - he could very tactfully keep her distracted. (and maybe a backup person too, like a very close friend). Many times people are like that because they want attention - so let your friend's hubby give her some. If he's got good customer service skills then he's a good listener and may be able to draw her into interesting conversations.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr. 9, 2012
    Location
    NYC=center of the universe
    Posts
    1,943

    Default

    Do invite her. She is your mom, after all. I would chat with her beforehand, or send a note, telling her you really want her to be at your wedding. But you hope that she can understand this makes you nervous and it's such a special day, so you're asking both she and your father to be on their best behavior, for your sake. (Just a couple white lies, maybe.)

    I would tell her she is welcome to bring a couple extra guests if that will make it more enjoyable and ask her who she would like.

    And I agree with seating her with your friend and her husband or similar folks who will entertain/occupy/babysit.

    Lastly, you really should not care too much about any misbehavior the day of. Anybody who can really destroy - or save - the day for you should be instructed to keep any issues quiet and not share drama with you. I recommend you just put yourself in a "happy zone" and tune it out. A good friend or family member should be "in charge" and cut off any issues before they get to you.

    We just enjoyed a nice family wedding with both Mom and Dad in tow, both as crazy as ever. (My Mom neglected to tell my Dad about rehearsal, acting shocked that he was in the wedding!!) And the groom's entire family literally contributed $0 to the wedding, dinners, and breakfasts. But it was great!! My sister and the groom were blissfully happy and didn't care about anything going wrong!

    It will be fine. No, it will be great!! Just enjoy it!!
    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    8,527

    Default

    This may not be a popular opinion, but unless you are positive that an assigned babysitter can keep you mom contained, and are desperately afraid that she'll ruin your wedding, then why invite her? Will she tolerate being stifled, or cause a lot of disruption to ruin the wedding and reception? It could be even if you invite her, that she'll not attend because of the presence of other people she loathes, but I would hate for you to have nothing but bad memories of your wedding.

    Of course, I'm long estranged from my immediate family, but there were family stories about mom's mother who attended her child's wedding and acted like a total ass. The thing that people remembered about the weddings she ruined was her behavior, and not the ceremony or the occasion itself.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2006
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    1,868

    Default

    If you really must invite your mother, definitely take your friend up on her offer of her spouse as a babysitter


    1 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 22, 2005
    Location
    Where it is perpetually winter
    Posts
    5,129

    Default

    I agree with JanM. I'm biased though, as my relationship with my brother is so estranged that he is not only not invited, but he will be removed from the property should he choose to try and show up. It's not quite the same as your mom, but I sympathize.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2006
    Location
    Evansville, Wisconsin
    Posts
    3,081

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ako View Post
    Do invite her. She is your mom, after all. I would chat with her beforehand, or send a note, telling her you really want her to be at your wedding. But you hope that she can understand this makes you nervous and it's such a special day, so you're asking both she and your father to be on their best behavior, for your sake. (Just a couple white lies, maybe.)

    ...

    And I agree with seating her with your friend and her husband or similar folks who will entertain/occupy/babysit.
    You know, depending on your mother's personality, if your good friend is in the wedding party and you want her husband to babysit your mom, you might be able to tell a white lie to convince your mother that she's babysitting your friend's husband. Who is, of course, going to feel lonely and left out unless someone as fascinating as your mother is willing to keep him company.

    Might not work in this instance, but that sort of thing usually works well for keeping one of my obnoxious attention-whoring relatives in line.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 27, 2004
    Location
    Posts
    1,029

    Default

    My niece's wedding had his parents not speaking or looking at each other. Dad married the woman he'd cheated with, but mom was also remarried but unforgiving. Reception was short and sweet and everyone behaved. My own daughter's wedding had the grooms parents in the same building first time in 20 yrs. No receiving lines. They stayed respectfully apart. No attempt to photo together. They all behaved politely and didn't draw attention to themselves.

    That's my experience. Tell her you want her there but that he will also be there as well. She is welcome as long as she is polite.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010
    Location
    where the red fern grows
    Posts
    330

    Default

    Thanks for the replies- I didn't think the babysitter idea would be so popular, but maybe there is something to that.

    If I don't invite her, she will never talk to me again, and that is not what I want. I feel like I should clarify that I do talk to her fairly regularly and she visits at least once a year. I just have a very shallow relationship with her- I cannot talk to her about anything that is meaningful and I certainly cannot mention my father or his family in her presence. If I do, she totally shuts down and just turns really nasty and short.

    For example- she was visiting a few weeks ago and asked who my bridal party is going to be. I told her that my half-sister (Dad's) is going to be a bridesmaid. She then asked if my dad was going to walk me down the aisle (what kind of question is that, given our relationship!?) For the remainder of the night, she barely spoke, was very cold and called my younger brother and locked herself in the bathroom to talk to him for almost an hour! My fiance was kind of freaked out. He kept whispering "what's wrong with her!? What did I say?!)
    The best is yet to come



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
    Location
    between the barn and the pond
    Posts
    14,336

    Default

    Assign a babysitter who understands.

    My own mother is a good person, but she lost her bearings and all sense when I got married. Ugly comments about my hair, the fake nails (just short french manicure tips, I wanted pretty nails in the photos, you know) she was ugly in tone and demeanor. Three very excellent friends corralled her, escorted her away from me, and stayed placed between her and I for the duration of the party. LOL one of their husband's did the video stuff...at one point they interviewed Mom and she did pretty well...and they stopped recording JUST as she started to complain about the things she didn't like...it ended up being a sweet story about good friends doing their part to make my day better, smoother, and easier. I was so appreciative and I honestly think they had a bit of fun lol

    Hire a babysitter if you have to


    3 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep. 22, 2008
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    1,787

    Default

    It was my (now) husbands parents, but yes. And his mother would have been the one to cause drama. He told her, flat out, that if she could not promise to attend and behave then she was not welcome. The day is not about her, and he would ensure she did not have to speak/sit at a table with his father, but that she was expected to be an adult about it.

    With that said, since his father was the mor rational one we also explained to him tht as a method of peace keeping we were seating him in the second row, but it was most certainly not because we valued him less.

    This actually worked pretty well fr us, hope you can find a dutiable arrangement fr your day as well
    You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr. 26, 2009
    Location
    Stroudsburg, PA
    Posts
    335

    Default

    Aside from the wonderful advice that's already been posted. I don't know how comfortable you are with things like this but as a very blunt person myself, I would have a very serious talk with her explaining that you want nothing more than for her to be a part of your wedding day but that this is your day and is about celebrating your love and new life with friends and family who mean a lot to you and as such she is expected to conduct herself as an adult or she will be asked to leave early. Make sure she knows you really do want her there to celebrate with and that you expect everyone to be civil for the day not just her (so she doesn't feel that you are specifically attacking her) I understand wanting both parents there but you deserve to have a beautiful day and if that means anyone with less than civil behavior needs to be given the boot, so be it! I do wish you all the best!
    Last edited by JLMet; Dec. 17, 2012 at 11:15 PM. Reason: I can't spell!
    The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you know when to cringe.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    2,691

    Default

    One advantage of having a baby-sitter is that way you won't always be keeping half an eye out for your mom, checking that she is behaving. The sitter will be doing that for you. You'll be able to focus on your groom - and on having fun.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun. 25, 2004
    Location
    Carolinas
    Posts
    4,766

    Default

    In the middle of this with DH and his ex and 2 daughters. Watched my oldest Bro go through this for the past 30 years with his ex and their 2 daughters.

    Have the same speech with both parents that it is a celebration of a new life for you and your soon to be DH. You want to share this with both parents and so are "asking" them to share in your joy and have a truce. Then have "baby-sitters" available for both.

    Please include them both on decisions in a timely manner-not 2 weeks prior as 1 daughter did with DH. The emotional pain inflicted on my DH by his ex through their daughters hard to see - even years later. Treat both parents with respect, earned or not. You never know what will happen in the coming years.

    I predicted this change might happen when his daughters had kids. Their attitude about their "horrible" father has changed as they try to provide for their children as their father provided for them.

    I hope all goes well on your day- Congratulations!
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim



Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 2
    Last Post: Nov. 9, 2012, 12:12 PM
  2. Replies: 26
    Last Post: Oct. 29, 2012, 01:12 PM
  3. My husband divorced me :(
    By acoustic in forum Off Topic
    Replies: 30
    Last Post: Jul. 4, 2012, 09:04 AM
  4. Replies: 0
    Last Post: Apr. 8, 2011, 11:12 AM
  5. Replies: 32
    Last Post: Sep. 2, 2009, 03:09 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •