Monday, December 22, 2008

Wedding Etiquette for Step-Parents

When a parent of the bride or groom is divorced and remarried, what is the proper wedding behavior for the step-parent? My friend Lisa attended the wedding of her husband's daughter from his first marriage. Lisa took a back seat, literally. At the ceremony, she sat in the back along with the wedding guests rather than with the relatives and bridal party. She remained invisible during the ceremony, didn't stand on the receiving line, and didn't stick her face into in any family photos. That seems appropriate and sensitive behavior for most families. But in a case of egregious behavior, the stepfather of a young bride gallantly chipped in $30,000 to help pay for her wedding. That sounds nice, but years earlier this man -- let's call him Dave -- had been the home wrecker who had an adulterous affair with the bride's mother, who was then married to Dave's best friend and business partner. So Dave was instrumental in breaking up the bride's family, his own family -- each with teenage kids -- plus the business and longtime friendship with the bride's father. Even though Dave married their mother and moved in with them, the bride and her sister never forgave him and never came to like him. But at the wedding, emboldened by his generous contribution, Dave stood up and made a toast, addressing the bride's father as well as his own ex-wife. "It's high time that we let bygones be bygones," he announced.

The bride was enraged and her wedding was ruined as far as she was concerned. She and her sister had resented Dave ever since he joined their family, and over the years that took a toll on his marriage to their mother. But this was the straw that broke the camel's back, and Dave and their mom broke up soon thereafter.

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