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Archive for Sunday, June 16, 2002

Parents’ failed marriage doesn’t have to ruin your wedding day

June 16, 2002

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Parents play a large role in seeing that most weddings go smoothly, but divorced parents at a wedding can create an uncomfortable situation.

Full-time wedding consultant Carmen Hocking said she encounters divorced parents in a large number of the weddings she helps to plan.

"It's very common now that both the bride and groom will have divorced and remarried parents," she said.

Hocking said couples getting married have many decisions to make when they have divorced parents, including issues concerning seating, photography and even dancing.

"If you have divorced parents that are very amicable, you are very lucky to work with that," Hocking said.

The Rev. Peter Willems of Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, 700 Wakarusa Drive, said wedding decisions can be especially difficult when the relationship between divorced parents is strained.

"Situations can happen, like the parents don't want to sit together, or the bride or groom doesn't want to risk anything unpleasant happening by seating them together," Willems said.

Hocking tries to help couples with divorced parents by giving them a few rules of wedding etiquette. For instance, she said, the bride's biological mother is always allowed to sit in the front row of the church unless the bride requests otherwise. Her biological father will be given the second row.

"I had one wedding when both parents were remarried, and all four of them sat in the same row because they all knew each other, and they all got along great," Hocking said.

This is not always the case with the weddings she's helped plan. In one case, with the exception of the actual ceremony, the father refused to remain in the room with his remarried ex-wife.

"If one parent is remarried and one is not, it does get very uncomfortable," Hocking said. "Seeing your ex-spouse with someone else tugs at the heartstrings."

Hocking has seen first-hand what can happen in this situation.

"In one wedding the biological mom and dad were divorced, and the dad had a new wife," she said. "The two (women) were not pleasant to each other."

The Rev. Charles Polifka of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1234 Ky., said he has not had many negative experiences with divorced parents at wedding ceremonies.

"I think it's always been handled pretty peacefully," Polifka said. "The parents don't want to get in the way."

Polifka said he has experienced a few instances when one parent did not attend the wedding, but he said this is not at all common.

Willem said he encourages people marrying in his church who have divorced parents to talk to them about the situation well before the ceremony.

"They should feel (the parents) out and try to get a feel for how the mom and dad feel first," he said. "Then they will try to come up with the best solution (to a specific problem)."

Hocking said weddings still occur where the bride's and groom's parents are married.

"The last wedding I did was so nice," she said. "Both sets of parents were still married. ... The bride announced how long (the parents had) been married to everyone."

In the four years she's worked as a wedding coordinator, she said, all of the couples she has seen get married are still married.

Hocking said she tells all divorced parents to set aside their differences for one day for their child's sake.

"They should be adult enough not to concentrate on their differences," she said. "It is not their day. What matters is the wedding."

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