Planning a wedding that caters to everyone is no mean feat. Brides and grooms often comment that the most stressful parts of planning for their big day, and the day itself, are the hurdles involved in balancing specific family requests and dynamics — and often involving their stepparents.
It doesn’t have to be this way, however. If you’re part of a blended family and have a positive relationship with your stepparent, you’ll most likely want them to play a role in your wedding. Don’t worry! It’s possible and easy to craft a stress-free ceremony that goes swimmingly for you while ensuring every family member feels comfortable, valued and seen.
This guide will provide some tips and pointers to involve your stepparents in the planning and execution of your special event — and how to achieve a happy and harmonious balance.
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Involve Them in the Planning
Involving your stepparents doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be there every step of the way — unless you’re exceptionally close! Instead, consider asking for their input at critical moments of your planning journey. These moments might be searching for a wedding dress or suit, attending meal samplings, travelling to visit multiple venues, table planning and researching florists.
Dividing your planning period into distinct ventures means everyone can participate in the process in some capacity. You can always match each parent with a particular task that fits their skills and interests so that they feel extra special.
For example, if your stepmom or stepdad is a fantastic baker, ask for their advice and help during cake tasting and when choosing a cake style, flavour, and designer. Or, if one of them is renowned for their logistical planning and timekeeping prowess, ask them to strategize a day plan for you and your party to follow or help you plan your bachelorette party.
Ultimately, by including your stepparents in at least one component of the wedding planning experience, they’ll feel welcome and valued — and all before the big day has arrived!
Allocate and Delegate Hands-on Tasks
The allocation of hands-on tasks depends on whether your family members would like to be involved to this degree and how much time they have to spare.
If you understand that your stepparents would like a hands-on role in wedding planning and preparations — and, let’s face it, the more hands on deck, the better! — delegate your stepparents and parents tasks they can comfortably do from home. This might include assembling favours, making table numbers, handwriting invites and researching bands.
Surprise Them with a Token Gift
While it’s traditional to offer your parents a gift on the wedding day to thank them for their help and support, sending a pre-wedding gift to the homes of your parents and stepparents is also a thoughtful touch. It helps to foster their feelings of inclusion; it makes them feel special, and it can go a long way towards assuring them that they’re an essential part of your celebrations.
Further, if they’ve been instrumental in planning and task management, it’s an excellent way to thank them for all their efforts during the process.
Of course, with so much planning on the go, your gift needs to be easy to deploy. Some ideas that fit this criterion include a voucher for a nice meal out at a local restaurant, tickets for a sports game or show, or a luxury gourmet gift basket that’s brimming with tasty and decadent treats (like those offered by Toronto company, Nutcracker Sweet Gift Baskets — residents of Ontario can even indulge in a wine, spirit or champagne basket, too, which is ideal for celebrations). A spa day or a nearby winery tour are also great options.
Pre-wedding gifts aren’t necessarily traditional; gift giving is usually reserved for the day as favours for your guests and gifts for your bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honour and family.
However, a surprise treat in the lead-up to the day is a lovely way to set the tone and to let your immediate family know how special they are, how much you appreciate their help, and how excited you are to have them intimately involved in your ceremony.
Include Your Stepparents’ Names on Your Invitations
Invitation decorum has shifted in recent years. However, a general rule of thumb remains: if your parents and stepparents are helping to pay for your wedding, it’s commonly expected — and considered polite — to include them on your invites.
If you’re having a formal wedding, their insertion on the invites — whether you’re mailing handwritten paper invitations or if you’re sending e-cards — could look something like this:
Mr. James Tate and Mrs. Louise Brown
Mrs. Katherine Wright and Mr. Jacob Riaz
Request the pleasure of your company to celebrate the marriage of …
Or, for a more casual invite, their inclusion could resemble something like this:
Join Sarah, Jessie, and their families as they come together!
It’s sure to be appreciated whichever way you choose to include your parents and their partners on your invites. Seeing their names or even an allusion to them ‘in lights’ spelled out on an invite sent to and received by many friends, family members, and others is a surefire way to make parents and stepparents feel involved.
Number Tables in a Way That Represents Your Unique Families
Gone are the days of having simple table numbers at weddings. Brides and grooms are inventing increasingly more innovative ways to show their guests to their seats. So why not get creative by labelling your tables in a way that represents both you and your partner’s families?
For example, travel and adventure might be an appropriate overarching theme for you. To execute on this, if you grew up camping at a specific site with your mom and stepdad, name a table after that particular place; if your partner has fond memories of holidaying at a beachside town with his family, name a table after this vital locale.
Travel is just one idea here, of course. You could also use house names, favourite family board games, landmarks from the towns where you grew up, pets, sports teams, or your families’ favourite authors or films.
Ways to Include Them on the Day Itself
If you’ve involved your stepparents in the run-up to your big day, you’ll no doubt want to continue their inclusion at the wedding ceremony and reception. Their involvement will vary based on how grand or elaborate your event will be. Below, we’ve outlined some ideas for getting stepmom and stepdad involved in ways that will make them proud.
Surprise Them with an Accessory
Your bridesmaids will likely wear jewelry in a like-for-like style or colour, and the groomsmen will wear matching boutonnières (also known as buttonholes), cufflinks, or both. Gifting parents and stepparents an accessory in a similar vein is an excellent way to make them feel involved and like a genuine part of the wedding party.
For example, you could gift your stepdad a boutonnière with essential flowers from your bridal bouquet and surprise your stepmom with a complementary corsage. Gestures such as these are a gentle nod to stepparents and an easy way to show that you consider them family.
Something Old, Something New
Another lovely way to include all of your parents on your special day is to ask each of them for an item to contribute. Ask your mom for something old and your stepmom for something blue, for example.
For family, seeing you wearing a special something from each parent or stepparent is a fantastic way to represent unity and togetherness.
Include Them in Pivotal Moments
As you did with your pre-wedding planning, divide them up if it’s simply too challenging to involve all your parents in pivotal moments throughout the wedding day.
For example, your stepdad could drive with you in the wedding car to the venue; your dad can walk you down the aisle with your stepdad seated in the front row. Your mom can be there with you while you get ready at home and ride with you to the venue, while your stepmom can be there on-site, having the critical role of welcoming guests on your behalf.
While dividing critical parts of your day down the middle may seem like one or another parent is going to be missing out, remember that this is your day — and you’re doing the best that you can to keep everyone happy and comfortable. See this allocation of moments as a unique opportunity to spend one-on-one time with each of your parents during what’s sure to be a whirlwind of a day.
Take Time for Photos
You’ll likely know that photo time during your wedding will involve a series of different shots with different groups of people and in different locations.
Whether your stepparents have been in your life since childhood or you’ve met them in the last few years, and they’ve made a mark, chat with your photographer in advance. Let them know that you’d like photos of just you, as well as you and your partner, with your stepmom and dad, and then again with your stepdad and mom.
Planning for these photos in advance will guarantee you get pictures of your parents and their significant others and make them feel special. They’ll see that, in your eyes, your stepparent is your family, too. And as such, they’ll be seen that way in wedding photos that will be viewed and gushed over for many years.
Do Things Twice
You can always duplicate some moments during the day, but only if it feels right to you and your partner. For example, you could ask both sets of parents to make a speech together and have two father and bride dances. Further, remember to include both sets of parents when it comes to your thank you speech or toast.
Ask Everyone for a Special Song
If you’re having a DJ or a band at your reception, the chances are they’ll gladly accept requests. Why not ask each of your parents and stepparents if they have a song that means something to them and their relationship with you? This could be a song you danced to as a toddler, a song they remember you singing at the top of your lungs as a teenager, or the number-one hit from the week you were born.
Asking each of them for a song that resonates with them and their memories of you and your time together is a beautiful way to include them and honour your relationship.
Last, Talk with Them
If you foresee challenges in accommodating everyone — step-siblings included — why not host a wedding planning session with each group? That way, you can figure out exactly how each person would like to help or be involved with your wedding.
There’s a chance your stepdad dislikes or fears public speaking and would prefer to refrain from giving a speech or a reading on your wedding day. It could even be that — unbeknownst to you — your mom has always dreamed of staying with you the night before your wedding.
By asking your parents and pre-emptively setting expectations — letting them know that you and your partner will do your best to involve and include them in the ways they’d most like, but that they may need to compromise — you can hopefully find a happy balance where everyone is included as they would like.
The Takeaway on Involving Multiple Parents on Your Big Day
It’s extraordinary to have multiple parents and stepparents whom you love and care for, to the point you want each of them to be included in and play a role in a pivotal life moment.
Always remember that it’s your day. By involving everyone as you’d like throughout the planning journey and on the day itself, setting expectations and dividing tasks and responsibilities as suits you most, you’re setting yourself and your partner up for a smooth, memorable day that everyone will enjoy.
Summary: Involve Your Stepparents in Your Big Day
- Involve your stepparents in wedding planning by asking for their input at critical moments, such as dress shopping, venue visits, and cake tasting.
- Allocate hands-on tasks to your stepparents and parents, such as assembling favours and researching bands, to make them feel included in the preparations.
- Surprise your stepparents with a pre-wedding gift to show appreciation for their help and make them feel special, such as a restaurant voucher or a gourmet gift basket.
- Include your stepparents’ names on the wedding invitations to acknowledge their contribution and make them feel involved.
- Number the tables to represent both families, using themes like travel destinations, favourite authors, or sports teams.
- Include your stepparents in the wedding day by gifting them accessories, involving them in pivotal moments, and taking memorable photos with them.
- Consider duplicating moments during the day involving both parents, such as speeches and dances.
- Ask each parent and stepparent for a song that holds meaning to them for inclusion in the reception music.
FAQ: Stepparent Involvement in Your Wedding Day
How can I involve my stepparents in the planning process?
Involving your stepparents in the planning process is a great way to make them feel valued and included. Consider asking for their input at critical moments of your planning journey, such as wedding dress or suit shopping, attending meal samplings, venue visits, table planning, and researching florists. Assign tasks that match their skills and interests, like seeking advice and help during cake tasting or involving them in logistical planning for your bachelorette party.
What tasks can I delegate to my stepparents in wedding preparations?
If your stepparents are willing and have the time, delegating tasks to them can help them feel more involved. Some tasks they can comfortably do from home include assembling favours, making table numbers, handwriting invites, and researching bands. Consider their preferences and availability to ensure they are comfortable with their assigned tasks.
Should I give pre-wedding gifts to my stepparents?
While offering your parents a gift on the wedding day is traditional, surprising your stepparents with a pre-wedding gift is a thoughtful gesture. It fosters feelings of inclusion and shows appreciation for their planning and task management efforts. Consider easy-to-deploy gifts like vouchers for a nice meal, sports game or show tickets, luxury gourmet gift baskets, spa days, or nearby winery tours.
How should I include my stepparents’ names on the wedding invitations?
It’s considered polite to include your parents and stepparents on your wedding invitations, especially if they are helping to pay for the wedding. For formal invitations, you can list their names as Mr. and Mrs. or Mrs. and Mr., followed by their respective names. For a more casual approach, you can include them in a phrase like “Join [Bride’s Name], [Groom’s Name], and their families as they come together!” Choose an option that feels appropriate and inclusive for your unique family dynamics.
How can I involve my stepparents on the wedding day itself?
If you have involved your stepparents in the pre-wedding planning, you’ll likely want to continue their inclusion on the wedding day. Their involvement can vary based on the scale of your event. Consider surprising them with accessories like boutonnières or corsages, including them in pivotal moments like driving with you to the venue or welcoming guests on your behalf, and scheduling specific photo opportunities with them. You can also duplicate certain moments during the day to ensure both sets of parents have an opportunity to participate and be recognized.
How can I balance multiple parents and stepparents on my wedding day?
Balancing multiple parents and stepparents on your wedding day can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that it’s your day. Divide pivotal moments if involving everyone simultaneously becomes difficult. Allocate specific roles to each parent and stepparent, such as walking you down the aisle or being present during pre-wedding preparations. Open communication and discussing expectations with everyone involved will help find a happy balance where everyone feels included and comfortable.