Whether you have step parents, step children or half siblings, whatever way your family is made, you want to honour your loved ones and include your blended family in your wedding ceremony.
But how do you do that when so many wedding traditions involve just one set of parents and no kids? You do your wedding, your way. It’s okay to stray from tradition when your family makeup isn’t traditional! This is your chance to make your own traditions and create a ceremony that represents you and includes all of your favourite loved ones.
Below we’re sharing 11 ways you can include your blended family in your wedding ceremony. We hope you find the perfect solutions for your unique family!
Ask them to walk you down the aisle
Traditionally, the father of the bride will walk her down the aisle (and in some cultures, the mother of the bride is invited too). But if you’re in a blended family, you can switch this up! You can have all of your parents walk you down the aisle, ask your kids to walk you down the aisle, or choose one special family member for the honour. If you can’t choose and your aisle isn’t wide enough for an entourage, consider trading off (e.g. your mom walks you halfway down and your stepmom walks you the rest of the way) or walk down solo!
For more ideas, check out our blog post on processional walks.
Share a vow
While vows are traditionally shared between the couple, we’re seeing more and more blended families choose to share a vow with the entire family. This could look like one parent making a vow to their new stepchildren, both parents making a vow to their children, or the entire family vowing their commitment to each other.
For more ideas, check out this blog post on how to involve kids in your wedding.
Give your blended family members a role
A great way to include your blended family in your wedding ceremony is by giving them an official role. You can invite them to join the wedding party, ask them to walk down the aisle, or give them the role of usher or greeter. They could also recite a reading or say a wedding prayer during the ceremony.
Honour them in your outfit
You know the saying: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Besides being cute, it’s also a great way to involve your blended family in your wedding day. Consider sourcing each of these items from your family members. For example, you could borrow your stepdad’s watch or go shopping for new shoes with your stepchildren.
Give them a seat of honour
Traditionally, the couple’s parents will sit in the front row at the wedding ceremony. With blended families, it can be a bit awkward if people don’t know where they’re supposed to sit. Ease the awkwardness and show your whole family how much you love them by designating special seats of honour. You can even make little name cards to reserve their seats or decorate them with flowers.
Ask your blended family members to witness your wedding
If you’re getting married in Canada (and many other places in the world), you will need two people to witness your wedding and sign your marriage licence. This important role is perfect for honouring a member of your blended family! Especially if you already have other family members walking down the aisle, ushering or doing a reading, this is a great way to make sure everyone has an important job.
Coordinate their looks
Make sure your blended family feels included and looks their best when you invest some time in their outfits for the big day. There are lots of ways to give your family members the VIP treatment. You could ask everyone in your family to wear the same colour, so they stand out. You could invite them all on a wedding outfit shopping trip. Or you could give them matching corsages and boutonnieres to wear on the big day.
Include a family blessing or prayer
Not only could you ask a blended family member to say a prayer during your wedding ceremony, but you could choose a prayer that specifically speaks to your family values. Check out our list of wedding prayers or write your own. Consider incorporating a blessing for the new family, or your wishes for your family in the future.
Present your blended family members with a gift
Since the newlyweds typically exchange rings to seal their vows, it makes sense to want to present your new family members with a symbol of your commitment as well. We’ve seen stepchildren presented with necklaces, bracelets or rings of their own. This is a wonderful way to include your blended family in the wedding ceremony with a gift they can keep with them long after the wedding day is over.
Take part in a unity ceremony together
You’ve likely heard of hand fasting or sand pouring ceremonies, but what about a unity ceremony that incorporates every member of your family? We’ve had the pleasure of watching new families create their own traditions by putting together a puzzle featuring all of their names or all contributing to a group painting. A favourite involved a group bouquet, where each member of the family brought a single flower that represented them, coming together to form the perfect flower arrangement.
Make it about the family
While the wedding day is about the union between two people, it’s not just a couple that is coming together. Your families are joining together, and that’s all the more true if you have stepchildren in the mix. So make the day not just about you two, but about your blended family as well. Include your family members in the planning process, say their names in your vows, let them choose the song they walk down the aisle to, etc.
There you have it, 11 awesome ways to include your blended family in your wedding ceremony!
Tip: Leave room for emotions
There are a lot of big feelings when it comes to weddings and those feelings can be more complicated when you come from a blended family. Our advice? Leave lots of room for emotions – both yours and theirs. Understand that your family members may be feeling different ways leading up to and on the big day. While we hope everyone is excited for you and on their best behaviour at your wedding, negative feelings may come up if blended family members feel excluded or uncomfortable.
Of course, everyone should leave the drama at home and it’s not your job to babysit anyone’s emotions. But in our experience, it helps to think through family dynamics. Open up the lines of communication during the planning process so the wedding day can be as smooth as possible. After all, a blended family just means more people to love and who love you, and that’s what your wedding should be all about!
written by Riana Ang-Canning
feature image by Erica Miller Photography