My husband’s ex-wife is his Best Woman

Guest post by Cassie
Wedding Party

When John and I got married, our wedding party consisted of one person each. My Maid of Honor was my best friend of twenty years, Kate. His Best Woman was his ex-wife, Katie. My biggest concern was that people would mix up their names.

Since then, I have been told a dozen times, “You let his ex-wife be his Best Woman? That's so weird! I could never do that.” Usually it's followed up by a little laugh, as if it's common knowledge that all ex-wives are evil and all new wives should be jealous of them and hate them.

I try to set aside my issue with them suggesting that I “let” John choose his Best Woman, and I point out that I adore Katie as well.

I met Katie about a year before my wedding in Las Vegas at the wedding of my now in-laws. I could have gone to their wedding already planning to hate her for her role in my husband's past. I could have gone there planning to chase her away from my John's present. But I chose to trust him and keep an open mind about her because planning negativity is a sad way to live.

Katie and I clicked instantly. While John was busy helping his mother prepare for her wedding, or handle the challenges of navigating Las Vegas, Katie and I stood off on the side giggling about cats and love and life. I would have naturally picked her out of any crowd as my new best friend. By the time our weekend in Vegas was over, I'm pretty sure John was worried that I'd go home with Katie instead of him.

I sometimes think it's a bit weird how similar my husband's ex-wife and I are, but it makes sense. He picked us both! We have similar builds and coloring. We love cats and alternative religions. We would be happy to spend every weekend at Ren Faires (in costume, of course!), and we share the same sarcastic sense of humor.

She has known John much longer than me and knows his idiosyncrasies. Warnings she gave me when we were dating have come to mind a dozen times and helped me weather a few rough spots with him. Advice she gave him has helped him be the partner I need. We honestly wouldn't have gotten to the altar without her.

So when John announced his choice of Best Woman, I was thrilled that his ex-wife would be in our wedding. Since then, I have remained grateful that Katie was there and that she held such a special place in our wedding party. She has proven herself our friend and an ally to our relationship. What else could I ask of a Best Woman?

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Comments on My husband’s ex-wife is his Best Woman

  1. I love this. I am still very good friends with my ex husband. He and my new husband are also close. I hear frequently “that is so weird”.

  2. This is so lovely. I wish to God all exs could be like this. I know that’s a lot to ask for, so I’ll wish instead that exs could at the very least be civil to current partners. Your gown is amazing.

  3. I had two exes on my side:

    And he had one on his:

    I’ve even joked to him that in the photo it looks like they’re the newlywed couple because he had his arm around her! But they’re just good friends who broke up years before I met him and after knowing her for several years through him I consider her a friend too. They weren’t married, but they did date for several years & it was his longest and probably most serious relationship before me. I’ve had some acquaintances say “that’s so weird that you guys had exes in your wedding parties!” but anyone who knows us well understands. We both have exes who we did not part on good terms with, but most of our exes are friends and some of them are our best friends. Of course we wanted to include them in something as important as our wedding!

  4. That guy I married actually asked MY ex boyfriend to be in HIS wedding party. Sadly, my ex wasn’t able to make it to the wedding, but still! How awesome is that? 😉

  5. Holla! My ex (bf) and best friend of half my life was on my side of the wedding party when Hubs and I got married. Bestie told me once that, aside from everything else, he’s glad we’re in each other’s lives b/c he got to meet and make friends with Hubs. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!

  6. I think this is awesome! My ex will actually be walking me down the aisle at my second wedding. As she jokingly pointed out “Your dad gave you to me, so it’s my job to hand you off this time!” I get why some people find an ex’s involvement weird, but for some of us, we didn’t end because the other was evil or did something horrible, we ended because we work better as friends.

    • My friends did this! Her ex walked her down the aisle, and then the “old” husband and the “new” husband had a duel at the alter. Obviously the “new” husband won, the marrying resumed, and they got some epic pictures out of it. 🙂

  7. I had my husband’s ex be apart of our wedding last year. Walking down the aisle and calling forth the fire element in my handfasting ceremony I wrote.

    We met a few weeks before the wedding and I tried so hard to be on good terms with her despite the abuse she put myself and husband through since she found out we were together. I invited her to join in my wedding in hopes that she would see that I was not a threat or in anyway against her but in the end she made the rest of the day about her when the ceremony was over, throwing a fit about everything including the ceremony she was apart of. I spent what should have been my day trying to comfort and reassure her. It was crazy and overly dramatic. If I was to do it again I would rethink having her involved or attend.

    I think it is great to have an ex apart of things but only if it can be a healthy relationship between you all. I encourage others to be open to it but in my experience it blew up in my face.

  8. I totally agree. I always thought it’s so weird to try to keep away people from your partner, no matter what their previous relationship was.
    Neither of us were married before, but we both have good friends that we used to go out with. My fiance likes some of my ex-BFs, and some not so much. Same goes vice-versa.

    Jealousy is destructive and has no place in any relationship. If my partner wanted to go off and be with someone else, he would. But instead we chose each other, and sometimes you just have to trust that.

  9. I’ve had a few conversations with my mom about why I’m still close to my ex- (who, yes, will be in our wedding party, along with one of my partner’s ex-es). We think that a lot of it might be how it’s increasingly okay for men and women to be friends and/or interact in equal but non-romantic ways. Something I’ve seen among my friends is people who dated inside of a larger group of friends in college. There’s lots of dating going on among the gamers, or theater kids, or cross-country runners, sometimes serious, sometimes not, but at the end of the romance, it’s generally preferable to remain friends (or at least friendly) instead of leaving the group. Plus there’s a foundation to the relationship that isn’t romantic.

    I think that it’s sad that for a lot of people like my mom, having male friends just wasn’t allowed if they were married and you were single. My mom lost a number of male friends after she got divorced because all of the sudden it wasn’t acceptable for them to be friends. I really hope that this attitude is dying off as men and women continue get comfortable interacting in non-romantic roles.

    • That’s a good point. One to two generations ago it wasn’t all that common for males and females to interact non-romantically, now activities are generally integrated allowing for mixed gender friendships that exist outside of your partner’s friends.

      I think since we’re living a good deal longer, we have a greater possibility to change over time in a way that won’t necessarily be congruent to how our partners change. You end up breaking up because you aren’t the same as you once were together, but if it’s amicable, then you can work better as friends than you did as a couple.

  10. I asked my husband’s ex to do my hair & makeup for the wedding. After we did our trial run, I decided I wanted to do my own makeup after all, but lo and behold, on the day of, I was trying to do my eyeliner and my hands were shaking so badly that after half an hour of yelling “Jess!!!!” every five minutes, I just had her take over. She’s an awesome lady and one of my best girls now.

    I’m so glad this article was posted! It’s really important for people to realize that exes don’t HAVE to be evil or even difficult to deal with. She’s a sweet girl, very different from me, the relationship with “our” man didn’t work out, and that is to EVERYONE’s benefit. They are better friends now than they ever were when they were together and she considers us part of her kith, if not kin (i.e., her family OF friends).

    Love OBB – now I just need to get my pics up into the flickr pool of her doing my hair, among other things 😉

  11. I’ve in the past become good friends with an ex of the person I was dating. Not dating the guy anymore…still friends with his ex 🙂 It’s even more of a non-issue if they are in a great relationship too….but seriously if you’re confident in your relationship that’s an opportunity for a friend, already got some instant shared history there!

    Also “let” uhhhggg

  12. My ex-husband wasn’t involved in my wedding to my current husband but he was invited. My ex and i have a child together and have lived side-by-side in a duplex for the last decade. I can’t even imagine parenting without him. We’re still family, we’re just not a couple any longer. Prior to meeting the ex, my husband was afraid it would feel awkward having him next door. Now (3+ years later) he and my ex hang out and relax around the duplex. It feels natural and it feels like we’re role models for the “modern cooperative family.”

    • You are awesome. My friend’s dad bought the house across the street when he split from his mom, and they parented cooperatively, each eventually gaining a partner who joined their cooperative family. It was SO great for the kids who could go back-and-forth, and I’m convinced it would have been impossible if they had tried to drag it out for the kids, no doubt building resentment towards each other. I’m sure it was difficult at first but the kids didn’t pay a price for that, the adults handled their feelings without putting the kids in the middle of it. Now my friend has four parents who work together, (though I’m sure he would have been happy to have fewer eyes on him during his rebellious high school years!) I have SO MUCH admiration for people like you and them!

  13. My ex actually introduced me to my current fiance many years ago. The current guy was an usher at my first wedding & my ex-husband is going to be a bridesmaid next month! People are always freaked out when I tell them that & then are even more shocked when I tell them that there are no hard feelings with my ex. He decided to become a woman and experience all that there is to experience as one (well, that is scientifically possible right now) and I didn’t want to wait around, I knew that I wanted to start a family soon. At first she wanted to stay together, but I don’t share well, so we parted ways.

    • Amanda, funnily enough, that’s pretty similar to my situation. My ex who will be wearing a lovely dress while walking me down the aisle was once my husband. She’s now much happier, as am I.

    • If I’m out of line for asking, please, disregard this, but as an anthropology major I’ve always been very curious as to how the trans-gendered process effects the loved ones of the man or woman embracing a new gender identity. It is easy to find personal accounts written by the trans-gender themselves, but rather difficult to find (non-bigoted) ones from the viewpoint of the husband or wife. It’s so wonderful that you were able to accept her decision and keep her in your life. I once dated a man who ended our relationship because he finally accepted that he was gay; we were best friends before we dated so, needless to say, I was definitely shocked at first that I hadn’t realized he was hiding his sexuality, I had no clue until he told me. In hindsight, I realized how obvious it had been (I had put his lack of physical intimacy up to his extreme shyness). After my initial reaction of “oh!” we continued our friendship as before, both still important parts of each lives, just in a different capacity. I guess my question for you is, was it difficult to initially accept your husband’s transition? Was it obvious to you, in hindsight, like it had been to me, that she was hiding some of herself from you, or did you know from the beginning? She is a lucky woman to have someone like you!

  14. So glad that the two of you get along so well and that she can be involved in your lives and be genuinely helpful and supportive.

    One of my bridesmaid’s is my fiance’s ex and everyone makes a big deal about it. They only dated for a year and we’ve been together for 7 so the three of us have moved on but we still get comments about it.

  15. I guess this is a weird one for me because divorce is still not common where I live. There is still such difficulty, time and stigma involved that divorces seem to only take place when one partner treats the other very badly. I see how in cases where love fades out/changes and there is no massive fight that this could be a great option.

  16. My husband’s ex-girlfriend of 6 years was one of his groomsladies! Let me tell you, I absolutely *love* that woman. 🙂

  17. It’s lovely when a break up doesn’t remove a loved one from life’s story.

  18. My ex fiance was a guest at my wedding along with his girlfriend (who is as sweet as can be , might I add). He is still one of my dearest friends and he and my husband get along great (they have ping pong dates on Sundays lol). If people aren’t together anymore as a couple, there is a reason. I think a big part of loving someone is also accepting the people in their lives (as long as they aren’t harmful). And trust me, I got quite a few weird looks and annoying comments when people found out my ex fiance was invited lol.

  19. I got married a second time a little less than 2 years ago. I am still really good friends with my ex-wife and while I did not have my ex stand with me as my best “man”, I seriously considered it for several months. Alas, she was unable to attend the wedding at all do to other commitments.

  20. Ok, I didn’t even think about the fact that my ex-bf is one of the groomsmen in my wedding until I read this article. I guess that COULD be weird for someone. I had a tendency to try to stay friends with my exes and this one has stuck around for the past 15 years. It was so long ago that I often forget that we were together.

  21. I LOVE this post! Awesome!

    I am recently divorced and my former spouse is already joking about this.

    My college sweetheart introduced me to my former spouse- we dated for 9 years and got married.

    My college sweetheart married a very close friend of my former spouse 8 years ago. He moved away after getting married and then moved back in the neighborhood last fall.

    Former spouse and sweethearts wife began hanging out a lot and were happy to be close friend again. It brought up a lot of relationship issues in each couple and each couple ended in a divorce this year.

    Former spouses now live together as roommates and sweetheart and I are dating again! We are all still friends and working through some rough patches in learning how to all support each other.

    Now you know why we are getting jokes about our former spouses standing for us at some future wedding if that is in the cards for us.

  22. I cannot begin to describe how reassuring both this article and the comments have been for me. My ex-husband and I remain best friends, and there has never been any question that he will be part (probably man of honor, if we end up having attendants) of my upcoming wedding. I want to befriend all of you and be warmly snuggled into a community of people who actually understand that our partners can remain cherished loved ones even when they’re not our partners anymore. Thank you. 🙂

  23. I love this. I am have two bridesmen standing with me–one is my ex-boyfriend and the other took me on my first date. My FH knows our past and how important they are to me. He gets along with really well. These men have stood by me my whole life and our history has shaped me into who I am. I love them more than words can say. I actually made an agreement (with both of them!) that if we weren’t married by 40, we would make the leap together. ????

  24. My FH has asked my sister’s X-husband to be a groomsman. They met while he and my sister were married and became instant friends. They divorced about a year and a half after FH and XBIL met. She has been remarried over a year and a half now, but is refusing to come to the wedding if XBIL is going to be in the wedding party.

  25. I set up a friend of mine from college with my ex-boyfriend and now I’m the maid of honor at their wedding. This is the 3rd couple my husband and I have introduced/hooked-up who ended up at the altar. Just call us the matchmakers!

    I get so many odd looks and comments about this. I guess I’m supposed to be jealous even though I’ve been happily married for almost 6 years? Whatever you kooky social norms.

    Before I hooked those 2 up, my ex, husband, and several of our mutual friends hung out/still hang out on a regular basis. It’s really not that odd.

  26. Not only did I have one of my ex-boyfriends as my Best Man, but I also had one of my husband’s ex-girlfriends as a Bridesmaid. But wait, there’s more! Our officiant was another of my husband’s ex-girlfriends. We are all great friends, and I can’t imagine not having had them as part of our wedding.

  27. Yep, also had an ex in my wedding party. If we had “Bests/of Honors” he would have been my Best Man. He put together my bachelorette! But then again, he and I broke up in 1996, so there’s 18 years of friendship time, there.

    I also invited about 4 of my exes to attend, and 3 came, and we all had a grand, no-drama time.

  28. My FH’s best friend is his ex and she’s our current roommate. Some people think it’s weird but they are more like siblings than exs. We didn’t have the easiest time getting to know each other but I’m glad we did.

  29. My ex boyfriend was my “dude of honor” in my wedding, and since my husband was one of his groomsmen in his wedding. Granted he is a boyfriend from a very long time ago, but a few of my exes were not ok with our relationship, and I knew whoever I married would be, and would get along with him just as much as I do. There’s not always a need for the ex to be the enemy. Our wedding was also featured on offbeat bride, twice! Search Sarah and Troy Beetlejuice wedding and you can take a look!

  30. My ex-husband and I didn’t make the best couple towards the end. He made my life a living hell after I left him two years ago. I moved on, and eventually, so did he. He recently remarried, just a few weeks ago, but they are having a ceremony next year for everyone. Yesterday, his wife asked me to go dress shopping with her, and to help pick out my daughter’s flower girl dress. She asked me to be a bridesmaid, which I graciously accepted. Before we had even gotten home, she asked if I wanted to be her MOH. When she told him who she wanted to stand with her, he didn’t even bat an eye. If you had told me 2 years ago that I’d be standing in that honored position in his wedding, I would have laughed you straight to the insane asylum. It is such a beautiful thing when two exes can get along with all new partners. His wife and I are so close now, she actually added me on her gym membership as a family member. ?

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