Half the battle of getting Married is pleasing the whole family. As if this isn’t difficult enough, adding your step-family members into the mix can infinitely complicate things. This can include everyone from parents, siblings, grandparents, children, aunties, uncles, cousins, the two dogs and the dead goldfish.
Stressed yet? Don’t be Fairies, we’ve got you covered.
Here are a few questions to consider if you’re grappling with how to include your step-relatives.
Question 1: How long has your step family been a part of your life?
For those who don’t know, building a strong family unit (blended or otherwise) is much like building a solid Marriage. These things really do take time, along with bucket loads of patience and hard work. This is why time is a primary factor when including the step-family in a Wedding. For instance, think about how long your parents have been remarried or how long your step-siblings have been an active part of your family. This will usually provide a clear starting point to work from.
Question 2: Are you close with your step-family?
When it comes to planning a Wedding, singling out the people who mean the world to you and including them is among one of the very first things you do. Whether it be picking your Bridesmaids, your Best Man or the person to give you away, all these decisions are based on personal bonds. Perhaps your step-father was more like a biological Dad to you growing up. That may determine whether he escorts you down the aisle on the Big Day. Personal relationships can thus dictate who does what.
Question 3: Can you afford to include everyone?
Crunching numbers can sometimes be the make-or-break factor when it comes to who’s involved in a wedding and to what capacity. Some simply can’t justify including their step-sisters as another Bridesmaid for the sole purpose of ‘not offending’ – family ties are important, but so is your budget!
Image from wgntv.com
Question 4: Are you treating your biological family the same way?
When all else fails, try comparing how involved your biological family members are, as opposed to your step-family members. This can be useful for identifying and rectifying inequalities immediately and preventing a future issue. For example, if you’re just as close to your biological siblings as you are your step-siblings, logic states that both should play similar roles in the wedding. Similarly, including your soon-to-be step children reinforces that you already think of them as your biological family.
Question 5: Can you fit everyone into the venue?
Your venue of choice often goes hand in hand with budgetary restrictions, as well as capacity restrictions. If your venue can comfortably seat 150 people, it’s not worth cramming another two tables into that space for the sake of inviting members of the step-family who you may not be close with. Maybe your step-mother’s parents and siblings are wonderful people, but your venue simply won’t accommodate it. This will ultimately impact your guest list and cost.
Question 6: Does everyone get along?
The last thing anyone wants on a wedding day is drama, so it’s really important to preempt whether certain guests will get along. A pre-existing grudge can only escalate on an emotionally-charged day, especially when there’s alcohol involved. In such circumstances, it may be safer to exclude those family members who are bent on creating conflict. By the same token, using this opportunity to reach out to those step family members you’ve struggled to bond with may prove beneficial for your relationship.
Question 7: Are there any ‘sensitive’ roles you should steer your step-family clear of?
If you wish to respect certain family members equally, you should be attentive to specific parts of a wedding that typically hold sentimental value. For example, both biological and step fathers may wish to make a father-of-the-bride speech. Ensure that the appropriate family members are honoured when it comes to these roles.
Question 8: How are you creating a neutral seating space?
Seating can serve as an effective conflict management strategy when planning the Big Day. As aforementioned, it’s best to predict who will and will not get along so you can plan your seating arrangements accordingly. Designate a ‘Switzerland’ table or neutral space to seat those family members that may not interact well with others. Additionally, seating them with people they feel comfortable with can effectively deactivate the threat of a social bomb.
Main image from Rob and Krystal’s Wedding. Photography by Lauren Michelle.