Family dynamics at weddings can be really tough. Nathan and I struggled with etiquette and personalities and who to invite and such, and then the deeper things. I regularly talk to my couples as they face all this, too. Every family is so different: closely-knit, big, small, struggling parents, divorces, estrangements, new marriages, 50+-year marriages, huge happy sibling packs, sister drama, brothers who hug, cousins closer than sisters... I love it. It's humanity. There really is no "normal", which I appreciate.
My parents divorced when I was 18, after over 20 years of marriage. When my wedding came around, they hadn't seen much of each other for over a decade. It was a messy divorce--my dad and I didn't speak for years and we had to rebuild our relationship brick by brick (which, thankfully, we have). My mom has a strong, vibrant, chatty personality and my dad is all in the gentle subtleties. I knew they'd be civil, but I wasn't sure how to manage the wedding situation other than just inviting them both. We hadn't been an actual family for so long.
I really regret how that translated in our photos. I have beautiful photographs of Nathan and me with my mom, then my dad, and portraits of me with each of my parents. I didn't think to ask for one of both of them with me. I can't take that back, and it bothers me that I don't have that picture.
I honestly believe there are very few parents who wouldn't want that picture too or would refuse to have it taken, even just for their child's sake. I've never seen any of my couples' parents get sassy about it. I can't believe it didn't occur to me. (If you're planning your wedding and aren't sure about whether to have a photo taken or not because of a similar reason, trust me and just do it--you can't go back.)
What I do have is this photo. The morning after our wedding, Nathan and I looked out the window of the big, beautiful beach house we rented. My parents were walking together on the beach, respectfully distant, but obviously amiable. We later saw them out on the bench, and I grabbed my camera--and there you have the photo at the top of this entry.
In many ways, it makes up for the lack of the picture of the three of us. They tried. They shared. They didn't just write it off and walk away.
During viewings, my couples have shared moments like this with me, too. Moments that might not seem important but are some of the most precious.
Weddings really are amazing. Thank heavens we have them. Sometimes I completely underestimate the power they have to heal, bring people together, and remind us of why we love each other no matter what has happened between us.