Archive for April, 2007

Mom, Step-Dad, Dad, and Step-Mom At Your Wedding

Monday, April 30th, 2007

In theory, no matter how much your divorced parents may dislike each other, they love you more. The question is: do they love you enough more to not only behave themselves, but to put your happiness first?

Weddings are stressful, even when all family members are on good terms. The additional element of divorced parents (especially if one or both currently have “significant others”) is enough to make elopement seem like a really good idea. Here are a few more ideas that have proved their merit in blended-family nuptials.

1. Hire a wedding coordinator. Experienced professional wedding planners are valuable at any wedding. But when divorced parents are involved, they are absolutely indispensible. It is far better that they be put in the middle of any dispute than the bride or groom. Pros know the proper etiquette, have probably been through similar situations in the past, and are being well-paid to take the heat. Let them.

2. Communicate your expectations clearly. Sometimes, feuding parents simply need a timely reminder that you have no intention of letting them make their problems into your problem – not at your wedding, anyway. Get a commitment from them in advance that they will stay on good behavior – no matter what the other parental unit does to stir things up. (You might allow them to believe that the other parent has already agreed to your terms. No divorced parent wants to be seen as doing less than the other.)

3. Stay out of any squabble. Families that put the “fun” in dysfunctional know which emotional buttons to push to trigger reactions in you and others. When the hook is dangled in front of you, don’t bite! Do not respond to the stimulus, no matter how tempting it is. Instead, remind the offending parent (or step-parent) of item number 2 above – their promise not to do anything that will ruin your special day.

With luck, all your moms and dads will keep their priorities straight. But, if things get tense, just remember that you hold the ultimate trump card: visitation rights with any future grandchildren. That should snap them to attention for the duration. Good luck!

A Tale Of 2 Parties (But Only 1 Was Good)

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

The original Mickey Mouse Club used to reserve one day a week for “Anything Can Happen Day.” Sounds like a lot of parties I’ve attended.

Face it – stuff happens. When it does, all your organization and planned-to-the-minute timelines no longer matter. What does matter is how you react.

Twice recently, I’ve been at events where slow dinner service destroyed carefully thought-out schedules. One party had too few waiters for the number of guests, causing the meal to run almost twice as long as had been planned. The other gala’s guest list simply outgrew their room. Tables were jammed so closely together that the servers couldn’t get through. The end result was the same – a r-e-a-l-l-y l-o-n-g meal.

But at the first event, a wedding reception, the mother-of-the-bride took charge. Items on the agenda that had been scheduled for after the meal were moved forward. Toasts, cake cutting, and ceremonial dances (bride and groom, bride and dad, etc.) all helped conceal the fact that some people were already finished with each course before others had even been served. Nobody had a chance to get bored, and most were probably unaware of the problems. Mom saved the evening with her quick thinking.

Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t at the second party. (And we sure did miss her!) This was a Woman’s Club Valentine Gala, so there were many chiefs – each in charge of one particular committee and one part of the night. I’m sure there was either a club president or party chairperson who could have served as our surrogate “Mom,” but no one did. So the meal drug on and on, folks got fidgety, and some got downright cranky. The official business of the night didn’t start until the last dessert plate had been cleared (which was just about dawn, as I remember.) And a wonderful time was not had by all.

You want your party to be a “night to remember,” but only for good reasons. Somehow, the idea that “this will be real funny – in a few years” isn’t much consolation when all your efforts are derailed by an unforseen glitch. So be prepared for that moment when your event needs a good “Mom” to take command. Your guests will thank you.

Cinderella, Y