My dad and his family; my mom and her family

Divorce isn’t legal in the Philippines, but there is such thing as legal separation. In a country big on families, it’s not surprising that step-families are usually a touchy issue when it comes to weddings. Unless the mom and the dad parted in good terms, such issues are, most often than not, added headaches to the bride and the groom.

Such issues are usually just trivial things for the typical wedding planner; I’ve had chitchats with some wedding planners about this issue during my stint as an invitations-maker. However, it’s different when you’re the one who is actually involved. It’s easy to say “not to concern yourself about it,” but in reality, it’s not. In a culture where respect for the elders is an important family value, you cannot simply dismiss an issue such as this.

So really, how do you handle it?

The typical “arena” for argument in a sticky situation like this is the entourage. The mom would insist on having her kids on the entourage, and the dad will do the same—which isn’t an issue if the step-kids are oblivious to the high tension. If they’re not, it’s best to keep them apart. But whatever happens, you will have to make sure that each side will have a representative to “keep it fair.”

Another point of argument could be the question of who will walk the bride or the groom down the aisle. If your parents can’t stand each other, you might have a bit of trouble convincing them. Usually, parents would just do their best to endure each other for the sake of their son/daughter, but if they parted so badly, you can expect some childish outbursts here and there. And when this happens, trying to convince them to sit beside each other could only lead to a Family World War—so in this case, it might be better if you can ask another relative (like grandparents) as stand-in. Or if not, you can just walk down the aisle on your own.

You will be surprised how petulant warring parents can be at such important event. I even heard of one who insisted on having the live-in girlfriend sit on the VIP table. In such extreme cases, you will need to really assess the situation and determine for yourself the right thing to do. Know the right thing, do the right thing. In this situation, you know that it’s like a slap on your mom’s face if you let your dad’s girlfriend sit with them like a parent. It’s up to you to determine if you can subject your mom to such embarrassment, knowing fully well what a delicate issue it is in our culture.

There are many ways to handle touchy family issues in wedding planning, but most often than not, long, from-the-heart talks do the trick. You just have to talk to those involved nicely, keeping in mind to remain polite and respectful as possible.

Posted in Conflict Management, Filipino Traditions, Pre-wedding

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