Blending two families together through a wedding is a beautiful act, but it can be a very stressful one too. Not only do you have the normal worries of planning a wedding, but there are also very important people you can’t risk leaving out of the proceedings.
So what roles should people have in your blended wedding?
Blended families are more prevalent than ever and that is a wonderful thing. When these blended families come together for a wedding, everyone should have a role, parents and children alike. Being inclusive is vital from the start as is planning well so that it is special for everyone involved.
In the following article, I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the most important things to consider when choosing which role to give which person in your blended wedding. some of the ideas will surprise you and others I’m sure you will have never thought about before!
Important things to remember
The most important thing when having a blended wedding is to be inclusive. You want to make sure that everyone is involved in as many of the steps as possible. From the meeting of the family members to the proposal, and the actual ceremony. There is a lot that goes into bringing two families together. With some patience and planning, you can do it. By having the right knowledge, it can also be fun for the whole family and bring you even closer.
Both of you should be on the same page during the planning, so feelings don’t get hurt later. You and your partner probably have varying ideas on what inclusiveness means to each of you. That is normal and OK. As a couple and a family having conversations about this before final decisions are made will make this process easier. An open line of communication is essential during all phases, but integral during the planning phase.
Trying to make sure all your and your spouse’s family members are involved and can show off their individuality is key. This means different things to each family, and you should be cognizant of this. You are not just joining the immediate family; you are bringing together everyone and everything in their lives. This includes their cultures as well.
When younger children are involved, they may feel left out. Having them involved in different aspects really will bring together the two families as a cohesive unit. For older children, they may or may not want to be the focus of attention.
Every family is different, and you need to find what suits you best. The closer the family is before the actual wedding the smoother and more enjoyable it will be for everyone.
Don’t force it
Unfortunately, not every family member is going to be as thrilled about your upcoming nuptials as you are, that’s just life. Whether it is your child who is feeling overwhelmed with a sudden change in their life, or resentment to a perceived outsider intruding into their family or even a parent or sibling who is being uncooperative; learn to pick your battles.
If you are struggling to find a place for your child in the wedding, perhaps that day isn’t the day to force the issue. You have a lifetime to win them over and insisting they share in your joy may backfire.
The same goes for an adult. If they really don’t want to be there then honor their wish. If you know they will attend but likely be a difficult guest, then anticipate that and get another guest to help you keep them away from your spouse or anyone else they may offend.
At the end of the day, you can only do your best and the main objective is to celebrate the love you share with your partner and the new life your family will have.
While this is a splendid start to having a successful blended wedding, there are many more things to think about and ways to incorporate everyone. You don’t want to forget someone or something on your special day.
Bringing Together the Families
Just in case you are reading this in preparation for popping the question, or indeed deciding as a couple to get married, let’s start at the very beginning.
By making sure to start the process early, this will bring your families closer together. After you have established that you want to take things to the next level, you can start to form a plan to bring everyone together. This takes time, so don’t feel like you have to rush it.
You two may be comfortable with the children separately, having them as a unit is very different. The children may feel that the new spouse or the other children are monopolizing the time they want to spend with you. So they don’t get as much attention. Which in part is true, spending time as a family and doing activities together can bring everyone together,
As with most things the first meeting is important. When everyone meets for the first time it should be in a comfortable setting, you want this as stress-free as possible for all parties. A place that offers other things to do is great. It can be an ice breaker where everyone can bond with each other as a group or break off into smaller pairs. Also, if things get awkward you have something to do.
After the family is comfortable with each other and you have bonded. Make sure they are involved in the planning of the wedding. This is not just a marriage it is a joining of the two families.
These things will also depend on the age and child’s personalities. Sometimes the child in question is shy and does not want to be the center of attention. Or they may feel that it is a bit childish if they are in their teens.
Again this is OK, give them their space and find out what is suitable for them. They may just need some more time or they may just want a small part in the wedding. Together you have to find out what is a good fit for you and your family. You never want to push them, this should be an enjoyable day for all involved.
Getting the whole family involved on your special day
There are multiple ways on the big day that you can involve everyone, these range from art projects to the reading of the vows. Here are some different ways that you can incorporate the family into your special day.
Art projects are a great way to get everyone involved and to show off the children’s individuality. These can be displayed during the wedding/ceremony or just kept for you and your new family.
Tip 1: The family can create art that everyone has contributed to. This could be a painting of heart that everyone has made a stroke. Or have everyone draw each other and put it together like a collage. Be creative, have fun, make this something to treasure.
Tip 2: A piece of jewelry that has everyone’s pictures or fingerprints on it is also a heartfelt way that everyone is always together. It is not as big and can feel more personal.
Tip 3: A homemade puzzle with everyone’s name on it shows that you are all different but are one. The children can make the shape of the puzzle pieces and decorate them to make them even more special.
Tip 4: Cake toppers are a subtle and fun way to show off everyone. These could be made of sugar or plastic if you wanted to keep a more tangible memory of the day.
If you are not the artsy type and or want to have something different to get the family included in the actual ceremony here are some ideas to consider:
Idea 1: Before the ceremony even starts and you have a photographer handy, get a family photo. This could be the traditional photo or something that is a little more abstract. Use your imagination, be creative, maybe the kids have an idea. If they do, this will make them really feel a part of the proceedings!
Idea 2: Walking in together as a whole family for the first time really shows that you are one. You could be more formal or more relaxed, you can even bring your beloved pets.
Idea 3: Having your children in different roles is a special thing that they will always remember. They could have many different roles besides the traditional ring bearer or flower girl.
Idea 4: Your child could walk you down the aisle or walk down the aisle with you. Walking down with you is a way that they can be there and join you during the reading of the vowels. Some children may be shy so you don’t want to put any pressure on them if they are uncomfortable.
Idea 5: Traditionally, the best man/bridesmaid gives the speech, but this wedding isn’t your traditional wedding. One or all of the children could be involved with making speeches. It could be one speech where each says a part or they could create them individually.
Idea 6: If the kids are a little too young for the pressure of live performances, then recording the speeches beforehand and playing them on a projector can be a great way of making them feel a part of the ceremony without all that pressure. If you do it as a surprise for your spouse, so much the better!
Idea 7: A member of the family could be the officiant. Where you live, it may be as simple as just applying for a permit. Depending on your beliefs, you could also be a registered minister online in only one day, for free. Having the children in your vows is a unique way that you can have them involved. This way they are not forced into the spotlight.
Wedding roles for extended family
Although the focus is often on the most vulnerable and impressionable members of your family, your darling little ones, there are other family members to consider.
When relationships break up, it’s not only those under the roof of the couple who are affected, parents, siblings, Aunts & uncles, cousins, and even close friends receive some of the fall-out too.
So, when both sides of the family have had a similar experience, it’s also important to get them involved in the wedding and interacting with your partner’s family too.
Inclusive and interactive activities on your wedding day are a great way to do this as are well-thought-out seating plans. Getting key members of the two families in your wedding party is also an effective way of promoting unity.
Best Man & Best Woman
Traditionally this is a role for a very close friend of the groom, and increasingly a role for a good friend of the bride. If you are trying to keep the wedding child-friendly, then forgoing the usual banter and jokes may open up an interesting role for someone else.
Asking one of your kids to be the best man or woman can really get them feeling special on your special day. However, this could be a role you offer to your spouse’s brother or sister, especially if you are trying to keep the guest list down.
They may not have known you since kindergarten, but they can certainly speak about how you have totally changed the life of their own brother or sister.
Maid & Man of Honor
Again, this is another role where you turn tradition on its head, especially if this isn’t your first rodeo. Making the gesture of including your partner’s son or daughter in this role can make a very strong bond early on in your marriage both with your step-children and new spouse.
Also, as I mentioned before, asking your new brother or sister-in-law to take on this symbolic role can really fuse a friendship with them which will make your future interactions closer.
Bridesmaids & Groomsman
Ok, sometimes you just want your best friend to be your best man or maid of honor after all this is a big step in your life and it’s important to have familiar faces around to support you.
So, why not relegate your soon to be step-children to the role of bridesmaid or groomsman. There’s nothing cuter than a little girl in a beautiful dress or well dressed young man.
In the same breath, if your wedding is blended why not get your teams of bridesmaids and groomsmen to reflect that also. Getting siblings from both sides to rub shoulders can be a great way to extend the blending effect and really get everyone off to a great start.
To make this truly a family affair, you can employ your and your spouses’ nieces and nephews to be ushers, assuming of course that you have any and they are invited. In this way, you are able to not only show that you are united in your small family unit, but even those distant relations are part of your wedding team.
Ring Bearers and Flower girl
Of course, it goes without saying that if you have a few adorable children in the family then they simply have to be a flower girl or ring bearer. This is a great additional role for a daughter or son but could also work for one of your or your spouse’s nieces or nephews; ideally one from each side of the family.
Including the guests
Now that you are making it a family affair, you may even want to involve the guests in the wedding. This is not for every wedding and may work better at a smaller venue.
The guests could have a role at the wedding from the officiant to usher. This is fairly standard for any type of wedding, but again you could carry over the theme of pairing guests from either side of the new family in roles where multiple helpers make sense.
If you are going to be welcoming a lot of families to your wedding, then organizing team games and competitions can really bring people together. This could be straightforward as having lawn games, such as croquet or horseshoes or something more elaborate such as a treasure hunt. Ask a trusted guest to organize mixed teams of each side of the family to participate together and get everyone having fun.
Other activities such as a dance competition or musical chairs can give your wedding a fun and child-friendly twist. When everyone is having fun they are going to start to bond and you will find your blended family blends even better!
Inclusive seating plans
The ideal way to get friends and family who don’t know each other well to mix is to seat them next to each other during the wedding breakfast. Making proceedings less formal can also help to lighten the mood and get people mingling.
Open mic speeches
Now, this isn’t for everyone and you really need to know your audience to pull this one-off. Rather than having the traditional speeches, or in addition to them, you can open the floor to your guests for anyone to say a few words.
This can really make your guests feel like a valued and important part of your special day and it also gives you a chance to hear how wonderful and your new family are.
This is not the penultimate list of things that you can do for your blended wedding but it should give you some amazing ideas. The most important thing is that everyone has fun, this is you and your family’s day. There are no rules that must be followed, just try to be inclusive and make it your own. It will all work out, have fun.