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Blended Bride: Keeping the Peace On Your Big Day

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Author: Dawn Miller

Article source: Used with author's permission.

Your Mom says she won't come to the wedding if your Dad is there. Uncle Ferdie's ex-wife is a life-long friend to you, but you know it will upset Uncle Ferdie and other relatives if you invite her to the wedding. Dad says he won't ask his wife to skip the reception and sit in the back of the church to keep from upsetting Mom. Your sister is refusing to let her daughter be your flower girl because you invited her ex-husband to the ceremony.

Does it sound familiar? Then you might be a bride with the blended family blues. The reality is that many brides today face unprecedented challenges in navigating the treacherous terrain of family life. With about half of today's marriages ending in divorce - there is a plethora of jilted spouses, scheming cousins and hurt feelings running amok.

Even the simplest wedding celebrations - with a few family twists - can turn any sane woman into a bridezilla. As a first-time bride marrying a man with three children - even I had a few of these monsters to stare down. If my groom's father attended the wedding, his mother would not come. A divorce in the family had split a branch of cousins in two - my mom didn't see how we could invite the "ex' half of the equation now.

What's a bride to do to find peace and have a wonderful wedding day?

#1 - Bury your own hatchet and keep perspective. The bride is the center of attention on her big day - but not the universe. A wedding is a celebration of love and happiness - not a weapon for wielding and wounding.

Your wedding is not the time to remind your sister about the "great" guy she divorced, or to snub your dad's wife or mother's new husband. Even if you blackmail one or both parents into ditching their current spouses during the ceremony, the emotional repercussions of wedding invitations can ring for years.

Think about the atmosphere you want to set for your guests. It may please you to no end to keep "him" or "her" from sitting down front next to your parents, but consider your guests and their feelings. Think about the legacy you want to build as you create a new family.

#2 - If you want for your wedding to be a family occasion, then treat it like one and honor your relatives. Honor your relatives by inviting them - and their current spouses. Part of honoring relatives is to respect their relationship choices. Even if you are friends with your sister's ex-husband and have coffee every week with Uncle Ferdie's jilted wife, the reality is that you owe respect to the relationships your family members have chosen to formalize and de-formalize.

Formalized family relationships rank higher on the pecking order than friends of the family - which is a status ex-spouses slide into by default. If someone has divorced his/her spouse, inquire discreetly about their feelings on a wedding invitation for the ex. Some people may not care if their ex-spouse is invited. Others may request that their ex-spouse be invited to only the ceremony or seated as a friend and not with the family. Some will request that their ex-spouse not be invited at all and be miffed that you would even suggest such a thing.

If you opt not to invite the ex-spouse, have a private lunch or get-together to celebrate your nuptials. And explain the situation - most will understand. If you don't know them well enough to get together privately - you probably don't know them well enough to invite them to the wedding anyway.

#3 - Ask your relatives to not carry their personal battles with other relatives into your wedding. Ask your parents to stop working out their own divorce and to bury their respective hatchets for one day. If Aunt Martha and Cousin Vinny don't get along, seat them at separate tables and tell them both that the dance floor in between is a demilitarized zone that is not to be crossed.

Don't give into blackmail by your relatives that force you to choose between people who are legitimately related to you. In our own case of wedding détente. My husband and I opted to invite both of his parents. Due to distance and illness, one of his parents could not attend. We felt good about being able to honor all our parents with invitations and not having to choose between them.

There are no easy solutions to the tangled emotional maelstrom that swirls around the average wedding. The best advice - proceed with caution.

Dawn Miller writes a column on life in blended families at

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