Introductions should be a very exciting, dramatic time, but still appropriate and comfortable for everyone. Today, it is not unusual for parents of the bride or groom to be divorced or remarried. If this is true for your family, it is best to have all parents seated at their dinner table for introductions. If divorced or remarried parents are on excellent terms, it’s possible for them to be introduced into the banquet room ahead of the bridal party, but this is the exception. Consider that when they walk into a room after their introduction, they will be standing next to each other with the spotlight on them in front of all your family and friends. “History” heightens tensions that can unnerve even the best of relationships. If you really want to have divorced or remarried parents enter for introductions, it is imperative that you discuss it with them in advance. When in doubt about “seated” or “entering” introductions, always choose “seated” introductions.
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For remarried parents, there’s an easy, tasteful way to introduce each couple. For example, let’s say that the groom’s mother Barbara is remarried to a man named Xavier Vanderbilt. They should be introduced this way: “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome the groom’s mother, Barbara Vanderbilt, and her husband Xavier.” Compare that to: “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome the groom’s mother, Barbara Vanderbilt, and her new husband, the groom’s step-father, Xavier Vanderbilt.” It is a glaring mistake to air “family laundry” and verbalize it during introductions. Never use the terms “step-dad” or “step-mom.” Doing so brings attention to the fact and implies that a parent is “less than” a natural parent when the opposite may be true. Everyone that cares knows the family history anyway, so there’s no need to explain. Introduce parents comfortably and appropriately by keeping it simple. Even in trying circumstances, parents are usually on their best behavior and everything works out just fine IF emotions are not stirred about the past. Communication between the bride, groom and parents in advance and careful planning assures appropriate and comfortable introductions for everyone.
True Reception Story
Once I consulted with a bride twice about this exact subject. I asked her at each meeting, “Are you absolutely certain that your mother and father are okay about walking in as a couple, even though they are divorced? Have you talked to them about it?” She answered emphatically both times, “Yes, it has all been taken care of.” My instincts caused me to doubt the situation, but I could not press it any further.
Let’s fast-forward to the reception. As I’m lining up the parents and bridal party, I ask the bride’s mother where “Roy” (the ex) is. Mom glares and spews in controlled fury, “I’m not walking in with him.” It was discovered that the bride wanted her parents to walk in together so badly that she never discussed it with them. It’s a sad situation for the bride, but the truth of parental relationships cannot be denied; facing the reality of feelings is essential for introductions to be fail-safe. The only appropriate choice in this example was to separately introduce the bride’s parents seated at different tables. In the end, all was well, but this was an upsetting situation that could have been avoided in advance.