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. Completely agree. My fiance is divorced and was married to his former wife for about 8 years. He often refers to it as his practice run – which is truthful as he came to know what he really wanted in life and that he should be more focused on his needs rather than bending to someone else’s wants (like changing careers to get more money even though you don’t like the career.)

    In his previous wedding, he had no say in anything really – her family planned it and 90% of the guests were his ex-father-in-law’s clients. Now, we both plan what we want and we make sure that both our desires in our wedding are met. We make compromises together.

    • This rings true for both myself and my fiance. We are both divorced and entered into this relationship being upfront and honest from the start. We knew at least what we didn’t want to have happen to destroy another relationship. It’s been a wonderful building block. In planning this wedding (that we waited 5 years for), everything just feels right this time. None of this societal checklist kind of stuff.

  2. I wasnt sure what to expect when I saw the post title, but I totally agree with this. My parents are divorced, and my mum has remarried and my step-dad was previously married as well. Their marriage is going great, and really emphasised that you need to find the right person, but also that you need to work on it as well. I was with my ex for 8 years (highschool sweethearts etc), and there was a LOT of pressure from her and her family to marry young, have kids young etc and the more pressure the more hesitant I was, because I didnt want to get married for the wrong reasons. These days I’m with a new partner who is amazing, most of our interests are shared, and we work really well as a team and communicate really well too. Had I given in to pressure I’d be stuck in a un-equal and unhappy marriage, but instead I’m marrying the girl of my dreams.

  3. I agree with this post, utterly.

    Both my hubby-to-be’s and my background has strong cultural beliefs that we both value, but that if taken out of context can pressure many young people into marrying for the sake of being married. The irony is, that whilst the vast majority of people in our culture do stay married, they seem to get married for the wrong reasons and just don’t seem to be happy in their marriages. Seems like a crazy concept to me.

    When I was in my 20’s, I nearly acquiesced to the crazy concept by getting engaged to a guy who seemed to be ‘just right’. But after 2 months of being engaged he reveled a whole other side of his personality that just wasn’t a match for me. I did the kindest thing I could do to both of us, and ended the engagement so we could both be free to move on with our lives.

    This brush with what would have turned into a very unhappy marriage made me realize that the cultural pressure I was feeling wasn’t going to work for me.

    I met my hubby-to-be four years ago – I’m in my 30s and he’s almost 40. I’m so happy to have waited to find someone I know I can grow old with, knowing that he was waiting for me all along.

    The day we get married is going to be super low key, although a fun and intimate day for us. All our planning and focus is on working towards a sustainable, strong marriage instead of the traditionally acceptable big fat wedding.

  4. My mother is now married for the fourth (or fifth? Hard to tell) time. And after getting married wearing swetpants and without any celebration at all (at the age of 65), she finally seems happy. I hope it stay that way.

  5. Oh, this is lovely. I hated the fact that my partner had been married before at first, I was so stressed that people would compare my wedding to the previous one and so focussed on making it ‘better’. But really, the fact that he still wants to be married after his previous bad experience makes the whole thing more joyous, and he is loving planning a day that reflects us both – he had zero input the first time!

    • I was worried about the same thing at first! But it’s worked out the same for me. Although when we started planning, I requested that FH didn’t talk too much about the previous wedding during our planning, unless necessary. (I don’t need to know what flowers she picked and such). He has been pretty good about respecting that. 🙂

  6. I’m about to embark on my second (and last) marriage and can completely agree with the fact that it’s SO not about the 4 tier cake, the head table and the matchy matchy. I have enjoyed planning this wedding so much more than last time as I’m truly planning it for my future husband and I. The venue is very us, the food will be devine and dare I say I have my absolutely perfect showstopping dress. I have hunted and pecked through the interwebs in search of the best deals so that we don’t go into debt for our “big day”. Not one family member has butted in to tell us that it what we are doing “isn’t the right way”. It’s been SUPER wonderful. We’re also writing our own vows. There will be a lot of laughing, happy tears and hugging and that is truly what it’s about. Sharing love and bonding of two families.

  7. No one seems to understand why we want to make our wedding unique to us and not break the bank – I am sending this to some choice family members in hopes that they “get it”

  8. I love everything about this article. My parents were married (fairly happily) until my mother died but my fiance’s parents were not so happy. I think reflecting on both situations puts our marriage in perspective. It does bother me thought that you refer (while not directly, implicitly) to the children as illegitimate. I don’t believe a child is illegitimate simply because her parents aren’t married.

  9. Divorce was the main reason why I waited so long to embrace the love of my life. I was never so happy to find the guy i would spend forever with. I knew that I did NOT want that D word in my vocabulary…so I waited and hit the jackpot. When planning MY wedding…I knew it was just that —-the ONE DAY i would celebrate with friends and family about my FOREVER LOVE with my husband. It is the marriage that is past the wedding day that matters to me most. 🙂 On my side of the family I had a lot of divorce, including my parents. On the flip side – being married for 50 years out of “tolerance” does not seem like the fullness of love either. So, I would rather be complete with the love of my life than settle for something that would have taken me on a different path. I’m about to celebrate 8 years…and am ecstatic! <3 🙂 Yay love. Treasure it.

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