Honoring the Past (Without Pissing Everyone Off)

About 10 years ago I attended my cousin’s wedding. It was a very high class Southern affair with a big outdoor tent and a delicious buffet of traditional Southern delights. Even years later I still I remember that they displayed framed photos of both the bride and the groom’s parents on their wedding days. I remember thinking what a sweet gesture it was, and how I would never be able to do the same thing at my own wedding.

My parents were divorced when I was 13 years old. It was mess, and even 16 years later there are still a lot of old wounds and scars on both sides of the family. In fact, I am really dreading the potential drama that now looms ominously on the horizon as our wedding approaches, namely the fact that my mother has never met (nor has any desire to meet) my stepmother. Mr. C’s parents are also divorced, and his parents currently coexist in an emotional stalemate. It’s trouble on both sides. Trouble to the point that we are reserving room blocks at two different hotels in order to preserve the peace. But more on that later.


My mom and dad on their wedding day. I love my mom’s lace dress and I love the fact my dad is very obviously checking her out!

But here’s the thing—I wish there was some way that we could honor both of our parents’ first marriages, seeing as we (Mr. C and I) were the results of those unions, even if they didn’t end with “happily ever after.” I wish we could display the photos without opening old wounds or creating awkwardness (there will be plenty of that anyway, to be sure). This is definitely something we would have to consult our parents on beforehand to see how they feel about the issue. But something tells me it probably isn’t going to be possible, which makes me sad.


One thing is for sure, though—we will definitely be displaying photographs of our grandparents’ weddings and photos of the loved ones who have passed on. At least those are two things we can display without any complicated emotions.


My grandparents on their wedding day. It was a classic WWII story where my grandmother married him at the courthouse before he left with the Navy.

What do you think? Would it be poor taste to display a photograph of our parents’ first weddings? Should we include only photos of their second marriages or perhaps no photos at all? Have you, or someone you know, handled this situation at your own wedding?


Mrs. Camel

Athens, GA
Wedding Date:
May 2013
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    AGDG, Guest @ 1:13 pm

    I haven’t done it yet but I too was concerned about this as both our parents are divorced. When I brought my concerns to my parents they were ok with using their wedding photo as I was the outcome of that. At the moment my parents are more or less civil but we’ll see. Just talk to them if they definitely are not ok with it then I would just scrap the idea or like pp have stated just use one of them with u as a baby.

  2. Member
    pinkfrog 1141 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:19 pm

    No photos of the first marriages… It’s weird. There’s no not-awkward way to do it. My parents didn’t talk to each other outside of a courtroom for 20 years, and while I still keep their wedding album, there wasn’t any way to acknowledge their marriage at the wedding without acknowledging that but for the kids that resulted, it was an epic fail. As far as how everyone will deal, though… I issued a “grow the f up” memo to both my parents early in the process, then I refused to tolerate any crap. It wasn’t easy, but it worked.

  3. Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 2:34 pm

    This is why I nixed this idea from the beginning, I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, least of all me from what may happen from such a display. I would either ask to display individual shots or shots of your parents with their parents on their wedding day, which I think would be especially touching if your grandparents aren’t there.

  4. Member
    bluewhale 638 posts, Busy bee @ 2:40 pm

    Two things. First, I’m with most of the people who suggested pictures of other important moments with your parents instead of the wedding photos.

    My other suggestion is something I saw on Pinterest recently. Perhaps you and Mr. Camel could recreate that wedding picture of your parents that you love and then display it somewhere in your home. Or maybe you could recreate a different picture. I couldn’t find the pin I was looking for, but here’s this one: http://media-cache-ec3.pinterest.com/upload/196962183672959206_toIblwaj.jpg I love the idea of displaying both pictures together.

  5. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 3:04 pm

    I wouldn’t even know where to begin on that one! I feel like you’d need to talk to your parents, as they would have the strongest opinion. Maybe you include photos from all of the weddings (your parents to each other and then to their current partners). I feel like if you have enough other photos, it will dial down the awkward.

  6. Member
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 6:23 pm

    i agree with @Mrs. Treasure! good idea!

  7. Member
    Ms_Maple 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:41 am

    I feel you. I am in a similar position and decided not to do it at all. I also had the problem that both sets of my grandparents are also divorced so I nixed any old wedding photos being at our wedding.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    M, Guest @ 4:37 pm

    I would prominently display photos of your grandparents’ weddings, your parents’ weddings to their current spouses, and other undissolved marriages, and include a smaller photo in a plain-ish frame of your parents at their wedding (with their permission of course).

    When asking for their permission, explain that you want to honor the marriages in your family that are an example to you (the bigger, more prominent pictures), but you’d also like to ask their permission to have a photo of them as a testament to the fact that this is where you came from (clearly at least one good thing came out of this marriage, however unamicably it ended!). If you couch it so that they’re clear that you’re not displaying their failure to make the marriage work, but an event that had a positive effect on you (the silver lining in the cloud), I think that they might surprise you by being open-minded.

  9. Member
    camel 703 posts, Busy bee @ 8:55 pm

    Hey guys – I can’t reply to you all here but I read every response and I really appreciate the feedback. First, I’m glad to hear that so many other brides are in my shoes. It’s tough throwing a wedding and worrying about the tumultuous emotional history of my family. I’m glad I’m not the only one stressing about family drama on the big day! But I think I will stick with the advice of displaying photos with my mom and dad separately. It doesn’t have the same impact as seeing a wedding day photo, but it’s a great way of acknowledging their importance without hurting any feelings.

    Thanks for all your responses Hive! You are the best! :)

  10. Member
    painauchocolat 2298 posts, Buzzing bee @ 4:01 pm

    Mr. PaC’s parents are divorced so we went through similar thoughts about our photo table. We decided not to display any photos of his parents (first marriage or dad’s second marriage) to mitigate any awkwardness. We used wedding photos whenever possible and filled in with photos of him with each parent and individual photos of folk who weren’t together. Long-winded way of saying: don’t use the first marriage photos but everything else is fair game!

  11. Member
    bluebelle23 854 posts, Busy bee @ 8:27 am

    I’m probably going to display my grandparents and my FI’s parents. My parents are divorced as well. And I don’t remember them married, so that helps. I thought about displaying my mom and my grandfather walking down the aisle when she married my dad, but me and my mom aren’t all that close. (I stayed with my dad.) She actually has that picture framed on her dresser since my gpa’s passing.
    Fortunately though, my dad and mom do get along. There’s no crazy hatred or anything. They’ll both be there and it shouldn’t be too awkward, so for that I’m lucky.

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