How to include Step-parents/children or have a blended family wedding
A wedding is the coming together of two people into the bonds of marriage. While it is a momentous moment for the two people tying the knot, it is also a very special occasion for the families of the bride and groom.
When a family consists of more than mom and dad and a sister, brother or two, things can get a bit more complicated. Complications do not have to equal problems, however. There are many ways to include step parents, step children and blend families with children on both sides together in a beautiful way that will celebrate not only the love the bride and groom have for one another, but also the love the families have for each other.
Communication is key
The most important key to success when there are additional family members to consider - whether it be step parents or children - is communication. As the building block for any healthy relationship, keeping the lines of communication open and talking about issues that could be (or even have) become problems will help smooth out rough spots and make sure everyone is on the same page on your wedding day.
However, including (or not including) step parents into your big day ultimately comes down to your comfort level and what you want. If your step parents have been a big part of your life, you may want them as a big part of your day. If your step parent has only been in your life a short while or you have mixed feelings about them, you can include them in a much smaller way. Some step parents want to be included, some do not. So talk with your soon-to-be-spouse, talk with your parents and talk with your step parents so they know how you want to include them in the wedding. Wedding event planners are also great mediators and can help define roles for everyone.
It doesn’t have to be complicated
Here are a few simple ways to make step parents feel included in your wedding:
Include them in the wedding invitation. Use verbiage to include your parents and their spouses in your invitation #invitations. There are lots of options here, but if it starts to look too wordy or is getting tricky you can go with “and families.”
Invite step mothers to go dress shopping. Especially if they do not have daughters of their own.
Invite them to host an engagement party, wedding shower #weddingshower or rehearsal dinner. Or if mom and step mom get along well, they can host together.
Give them a corsage or boutonniere.
Include them in the wedding program.
Include them in the receiving line (if you are having one).
Include them in the photos. If you are close, individual pictures with them will mean so much to both of you.
If you are very close to your step parent, their role in your wedding can be much bigger. A step father that helped to raise you can walk you down the aisle, especially if you are closer to him than your biological father. If both men are special to you you can either have both men walk you down the aisle, or have one walk you part way and the other the rest of the way. Grooms often escort their mother to their seats. This can also be done for step mothers (although, biological mothers often get the aisle seat).
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to reception either. If you are close with your step parent, you can have a special dance with them as well.
You know your family dynamic and will ultimately be the best judge of who to include where in your wedding. If you are close to a former step parent, you can invite them to your wedding. They were an important part of your life so they should be able to celebrate with you. When it comes to your step parents' family, budget and closeness will dictate who and how much of the family you invite.
If you don’t get along with your step parent, be as inclusive as you feel comfortable. Be respectful and take the high road as often as you can. You want to look back on the day with fond memories and being the bigger person will go a long way in making that possible.
For weddings where both the bride and groom have children from previous relationships, the ceremony can become more than a husband and wife coming together, but two families combining. In fact every day in the United States approximately 2,100 new blended families will form.
There are many ways to include children of all ages into both the wedding planning and wedding day.
Let them help plan the wedding. Older children can go shopping with you for wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses or help pick out flowers. Younger kids can help with cake testing and food for the reception (this can be especially helpful if you have picky eaters).
Coordinate their attire. Older children can serve as bridesmaids or junior bridesmaids, little ones can be flower girls. Boys can be ushers, groomsmen or ring bearers. Let them help pick what they will wear for the wedding and allow some of their personality to come out in their clothes. Remember, bridesmaids and flower girls don’t have to wear dresses!
Give them a gift. Spouses getting ready to be step parents, can pick out something special to give to their step child-to-be. Jewelry, like a necklace or bracelet, are a great choice for girls and engraved dog tags or a keychain are great for boys.
Have a family blessing. Once you and your spouse have said “I do” have the officiant give a special blessing for the whole family. Some brides and grooms have also written special vows to their step children.
Include them in the unity ceremony. Instead of a unity candle, where two become one, include every member of your now blended family. Create a special keepsake with sand. Give everyone a color and pour them all into one jar to create something beautiful to remember the day. Or allow everyone to pick their favorite flower to create a centerpiece at the reception. Put painters tape in the shape of a heart on a canvas and have everyone in the family squirt on their favorite color. After it dries remove the tape for a piece of art you can hang in your home.
Add them to the top of the wedding cake. Who says only the bride and groom have to be in the wedding topper?
Dance! You and your spouse may want to have their first dance to yourselves, but then invite your family out and have some fun together! If you have some rhythm you can even make up your own choreographed number!
There are many ways step parents and step children can be included in your big day from start to finish. Keeping communication open, taking the high road and not being afraid to do something a little different will go a long way in making everyone feel comfortable and help you make your big day the special moment it was meant to be!