Blended family weddings can be a different experience for each family member
Congratulations. You and your new love are making plans to merge your separate families into one blended family. As you know, remarriage is a big step, in many ways much more challenging than first marriages. When either, or both, partners bring children from previous relationships into the step family environment, the levels of emotions and the necessity for empathy, patience, self-confidence, and compromise are raised to new heights. And that’s just the wedding.
Weddings that create a new step family are not for the faint of heart
Weddings, despite their well-deserved reputation for being the best day of someone’s life, can be potentially explosive given all the inherent excitement and intense feelings, and blended family weddings are certainly no exception. Extra consideration, extra patience and great communication can help, but for many children whose parents enter into a remarriage, multiple conflicting emotions almost guarantee that feelings will be hurt.
Do not push
If you are planning to include your children in the wedding, or even if you just want them to happily sit with the rest of your family and friends, observe this one rule at all times: Do not push. Include your kids and step kids in prenuptial planning and festivities that are appropriate, but be sensitive to their reactions, both to the wedding plans and to the remarriage itself. If you would like them to be involved in the ceremony, let your kids know you want them to be part of your important day because they are an important part of your lives.
Children involved in the blended family wedding ceremony
Many step family ceremonies include vows for children, celebrating the formation of a new family unit and recognizing their place in it. Ask your children if they want to participate in such vows, and respect their decision and feelings. Kids who refuse a speaking role might enjoy being a ring bearer, acolyte, altar boy, usher, flower girl, bridesmaid, or attendant for guest book or gifts. If any, or all, of your children choose to attend the wedding as guests only, accept this decision gracefully. Make arrangements for special seating, perhaps just before your parents are seated. No matter what your relationship with ex-spouses, be as amicable as possible in discussing wedding plans involving the children.
Be sure to include the children in the receiving line, even if they did not participate in the actual ceremony. Introduce them in both their old and new roles; for example: this is John’s son and my step son, Michael. Have formal pictures taken, and be sure to take some with the new step parent and new step children alone. Those photos may later be a treasured gift.
Establish your couple-ness
As important as it is that your blended family children appreciate that their new step parent is in a sense marrying them, too, it is also important to instill a respect for the new relationship between their parents. Accordingly, if you take a honeymoon trip right after the wedding, take it alone. You can plan a special family trip later, but reserve the honeymoon just for the bride and groom.
Be prepared for some tears, on the wedding day. Probably the most important thing you can do is to avoid making any assumptions…about anything. Be open and communicate with your blended family members. Including the children in the nuptial ceremony can enhance the wedding and lend a firm base to your new blended family, but their participation is not essential. What is important is that you and your spouse build a successful relationship that will guide and nurture your blended family for years to come. Congratulations and best wishes. We highly recommend pre-marital coaching at The Blended and Step Family Resource Center before embarking on your blended family wedding.