Blended families: Keeping the peace on and before the big day

Don\'t let them get you down!

I come from a rather mixed family. I have a step-mother, half-siblings and step-siblings. My mom has a girlfriend. There is apparently bad blood involving grandparents that I know nothing about. But, if they choose not to suck it up and play nice when I get engaged and later married, they’ll all be disowned. Step-families and what-have-you can be a challenge where weddings are involved. There are a lot of areas where tensions can rear. And there is a lot to think about.

The prep: Who pays? Bio-dad or bio-mom? What about step-dad? Do they split the wedding costs 50/50 or 25/25/25/25? If future bride and her step-mom are close, does bio-mom still want to be 100% involved? Or can they split that, too? If, due to geographic location or other factors, it is easiest for step-mom to be primary planner, does bio-mom get resentful?

The shower, etc.: Which mom takes control if there is no maid-of-honor to step up to the plate? Is having separate showers okay? Can bio-dad and step-dad get along well enough to make nice at the bachelor party?

The invitations: How can one word them without someone finding something to take offense at? If one says “Mrs. Bio-mom and Mr. Step-dad and Mr. Bio-dad and Mrs. Step-Mom invite you to” will Mr. Bio-dad feel he’s gotten second listing?

The big day: Who gets the honor of walking the bride down the aisle? Bio-dad or step-dad? Or maybe both? Will they agree to that? Who takes control of the proceedings and who stands tall in the receiving line? Does the various assortment of moms and dads take turns dancing with their sons and daughters?

Oy! I’m sure brides and grooms have enough to think about without having to corral their folks. For some, these are easy questions to answer. Some split families just get along. Many people feel closer to their step-parents than their bio-parents. Others aren’t particularly close to their parents’ spouses and so there’s no conundrum. It’s easy enough to streamline invitations by simple stating, “Bride and groom request…etc.” And if you’re creating your own ceremony and reception that reflects your individuality, you may be able to get away with leaving out the aisle walks and dances that can be problematic.

Some questions are more difficult to answer:

How does one start and what should be considered?

Whose names grace the invitations?

How does one keep the peace?

Can one exclude step-parents from the wedding?

As a step-parent, how should I dress?

Can two fulfill the role of one?

How does one avoid disaster?

To all the future brides and grooms from blended families out there, I have just this to add: Don’t let ’em push you around! Do what makes you happy and don’t give in to guilt!

4 Responses to “Blended families: Keeping the peace on and before the big day”

  1. Bria says:

    My chest gets tight just thinking about this aspect of my wedding. Sigh.

  2. Twistie says:

    Boy does this make me glad my beloved comes from a VERY small family! There was only his mother and my father and brothers to worry about upsetting, and all of them were pretty mellow. (ducks rocks launched by those with more complicated family situations)

    This reminds me, though, of when my brother got married. His wife’s parents had divorced nastily some years before. Her father kept making demands, and they made several large decisions based around placating him. Of course, the big day came and her father didn’t bother to show up…and her mother wore a white lace dress. She also glared in all the formal family portraits. Sheesh!

    My MIL? Just wanted to be told when and where to show up and where to put the home made sushi when she got there. And unlike my beloved’s previous wedding, his mother didn’t come dressed in black in protest. That was all I cared about! Once I saw she was wearing blue, I knew everything was okay with her, and that was okay with me.

  3. Danielle says:

    I come from a blended family as well, in which my father has been married three times, my mom twice, and I’m close to my dad’s second wife as well (and my half-sister.) To make matters more fun, my mother’s family absolutely detests my father’s family.

    I basically sat my parents down, separately, and told them that this was *my* wedding, not a chance for them to get back at each other, not a chance to let one exorcise control over the other in an effort to have the ‘upper hand.’ I clarified that this was a celebration, not a skirmish worthy of National Guard attendance. If they couldn’t be civil to each other, and notify their respective family members to do the same, they would be asked to either not attend, or should a scene arise, they would be publicly asked to leave (I did that one because they both hate any sort of public attention.)

    The wedding went quite well. We sat the groom’s family in the middle of the ballroom to act as a sort of ‘buffer’ between the two sides of family. I’m divorced now, but getting remarried in a month (or so.)

    We’ve decided to skip the formalities and get married at the Botanical Gardens in our area, just the two of us (and a photographer.) Of course, we are still wearing formal attire…. We may be having a tiny ceremony, but we’re definitely doing it in style.

  4. Never teh Bride says:

    Way to take control, Danielle! Sometimes the only way to prevent a conflagration is to tell everyone in no uncertain terms that they better not start any fires!