How divorce has positively affected my wedding planning

Guest post by S
Divorce cards by Etsy seller FireflyDesignsArt
Divorce cards by Etsy seller FireflyDesignsArt

This is probably going to sound really odd, coming from someone planning her first, and hopefully only wedding. But I wanted to share some thoughts I had on how divorce has, in fact, positively affected my wedding planning process.

First, my parents are divorced. They got married in 1980 at a big church wedding, just after my mom finished college, with all the things that were considered in-style and traditional at the time. They followed the rules of etiquette, they had a big white cake and a big white dress and they lived a long and unhappy marriage for about 25 years, until my mother finally gave in and ended the marriage. Three years ago, she got remarried in a small ceremony in a curling lodge with me as her Maid of Honour and root beer floats for dessert. On her anniversary, she emailed me to tell me how wonderful her marriage is, and how excited she is for me to have the same thing she finally has.

Second, my future husband is divorced. At just 21 years old, his girlfriend of only a year got pregnant by another man, and he stayed around to help her raise her child. Two years later, she was pregnant again. They got married because it was what she wanted, and he believed “that's just what you do.” She planned a big fancy wedding, when they both were barely making ends-meet. He wasn't happy when the marriage began, and wasn't truly surprised when it ended just two years later, while they were still in debt from the wedding costs. He has gained two wonderful daughters from the experience, and learned to listen to himself and think much harder about his life decisions.

So what does this have to do with planning our wedding?

Well, not only did both my mother and future husband gain more confidence after ending a bad marriage, but everyone involved (my parents, my grandparents, my partner and his parents) all realize that a wedding doesn't make a marriage. It doesn't matter if you have the right dress or the proper wording on your invites. None of it matters.

And so, thanks to divorce, I've enjoyed planning our wedding without any family members harping about how my wedding “should be.” The only advice our families have on how it should be done? In whatever way makes us both happy, and keeps us sane while we do it.

We should find a way to embrace and express our love to our families and friends. We should spend more time talking to each other than planning the wedding, and we should always keep in mind why we are getting married — not because of a sense of duty to illegitimate children, not because we're fresh out of college and “that's just what you do,” and not because of pressure from our religion or families — but because we love each other.

Comments on How divorce has positively affected my wedding planning

  1. These kinds of posts are exactly what I need. Thank you for reminding me why I’m planning a wedding and TO STOP STRESSING OUT! 🙂

  2. This is fantastic! I can relate, although in my case I am the one that has been divorced. My story is very very similar to your future husband’s save for the child by another man. We got pregnant, decided to get married because we were expected to. Then when I lost the baby and my mom asked if we were still getting married we said “sure”. Not exactly the right reason. After a huge fancy “proper” wedding, just over a year of miserable marriage, one son, and more nights than not of fighting followed by him leaving to go party with his friend, I called it quits. Now I’m planning a wedding with a loving man who’s perfect for me and for my son. My divorce gave me the knowledge that the wedding is a great celebration, but its the marriage that really matters. Congrats to you and your new family!

  3. Thank you for this post! I’ve been having one of those weeks where I am second-guessing everything that my fiance and I want to do for our wedding worrying about “what the family will think.” The reminder that the only thing that “should be” about this wedding is what my fiance and I want and makes us happy. Now I can go back to just joking about eloping instead of having an “I’m serious” undertone.

    • Just to remind everyone, an elopement doesn’t always equal a successful marriage either. My parents had an elopement (followed by a home reception), and their eventual divorce was finalized after 15 years of marriage.

      I really hate to say it, but divorce can happen to anyone regardless of how they got married. That doesn’t mean, however, that people can never learn from that kind of experience.

  4. Your story could not have come to me at a more perfect moment. As I was holding three different “kinds” of red ribbon to try to decide which “shade” is best I had this voice in my head saying “THIS IS NOT IMPORTANT.” What’s important is that he loves me and I love him and that day will be beautiful not because of f7cking red ribbon, but because I get to hold him in my arms and call him “my husband.” Thank you for the reminder.

    • once upon a time I spent THREE WEEKS looking for the right shade and width of eggplant ribbon just to wrap around the cake. Crazypants.

  5. I can totally relate on not being pressured by family/religion/society because of divorce. My parents are divorced and so am I, and there’s a certain calm wisdom that comes from it (when one accepts responsibility) knowing that it isn’t about The Wedding, it’s about The Marriage. The Wedding is a party – one day/evening out of your existence. The Marriage is where the rest of your life is at.

    Congratulations on knowing what’s really important as you plan to celebrate your union together.

  6. Love this article! I am a product of my father’s second marriage (which has lasted 25 years and is still going strong), and I think this is part of the reason my parents have been very laid back when it comes to my wedding planning. When I asked him advice on picking out an engagement ring for my fiancee, his response was, “Don’t go into debt”. I love that my parents don’t have all these ideas about what a wedding should be, what it should have, etc. My fiancee’s parents (this is her mom’s second marriage) are also pretty laid back and don’t have an opinion on our wedding planning (other than they’re happy for us). It’s really a nice break from the traditional “mom wants to see me in a big white dress and is stressing over the napkins matching the bridesmaids’ dresses!”

  7. Great post! So important to remember WHY you’re getting married in the first place when you get caught up about HOW you’re doing it. I’m a bride-to-be myself and it is hard to step back sometimes. Need more posts like this to remind me! : )

  8. Right on! I have been keeping this mantra for me and my partner’s wedding. I keep reminding ourselves that we are going through this ritual as a way to express our love for one another and not because religion, family, or other factors tell us we have to. This is not a marriage of convenience but rather of love. Good luck with the wedding planning and keep on Loving!

  9. I’m also divorced, and it has given me enormous peace during planning my wedding to my current partner. I’ve not got the pressure of meeting my family’s religious and cultural expectations for a wedding, because I’ve done that. Because I’ve planned a wedding before, I know what’s important and what isn’t. I know where to find a good deal on a wedding dress and and cakes and things like that. I know no one really cares what color tablecloths I choose.

  10. Ah ladies, so glad to hear your attitudes – as I tell my couples, a wedding is just a wonderful celebration that simply marks the beginning of your marriage. Some people try and create a fairytale event, with all their energy, planning and money going into this one day, but unfortunately life is not a fairytale, even if you love your spouse to bits. It’s hard then for life to compete with the memory of the fairytale. Perhaps that’s why so many celebrities and very wealthy couples split so soon……it must be a let down after all the build up. So great to hear such wisdom from you all.

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