If you’re blending families in your new marriage, you are taking on a unique and life-changing task. It has the potential to bring joy and light into your life, and extend the children’s circle of love and support even wider.
But it also comes with challenges. How do you include them in the wedding without overstepping their boundaries? How do you ensure you’re building an authentic relationship with them and not something just for show on the big day?
If you want to combine your family as joyfully as possible, be sure to incorporate all your children in the wedding preparations, on the wedding day, and beyond. We’ll help you with ideas and advice to include your children as you celebrate your new marriage. We’ll also share tips for navigating this time if any children are resistant to the new stepfamily.
Blending Families is when one or both partners have children from a previous relationship and build a life together as a new family. It’s also called a stepfamily.
The proposal is the official start of your marriage journey. You may have begun blending your lives if you’re already living together. If not, this is an even more important milestone that you’ll need to navigate delicately with your children.
Either way, featuring children in your proposal adds extra meaning and will start your engagement on a great note.
Even if you want your proposal to be just between you and your partner, you can still involve both your kids in the big ask. Here are ways you can include kids in your proposal plans:
Children of all ages will likely enjoy participating in the wedding planning. Allowing them to share opinions, help with tasks, and join in on the festivities will ensure they feel seen and heard during this transitional period.
Below we’ve outlined some of our favorite ways to include children in your wedding planning process so everyone can feel like the big day is big for them too.
If you’ve both already had big weddings with a large bridal party, you may not need to have friends and siblings stand up with you as you say “I Do” this time. But what if you ask your kids to be in the wedding as your bridesmaids and groomsmen?
They’ll feel more engaged in the wedding planning if they can go shopping for attire, have a kid-friendly bachelor/bachelorette party, and look forward to their time at the altar.
Enlist the help of all the children as you conquer your wedding planning to-do list. And as tempting as it may be to keep all the meaningful tasks in your control, don’t just give them busy work. Assign them actual (age-appropriate) responsibilities they can feel proud for completing.
Here are a few ideas for what children can help do for your wedding:
And be sure not to make them only worker bees. Ask for their opinions and give them free rein on some decisions. And include all the children equally. Both partners’ children should be invited to shop for attire, or each child gets to choose a song for the dance floor.
While everyone may enjoy being a part of the wedding planning process, don’t expect it to be the center of their lives. It’s not all they want to talk about. In fact, it probably lands pretty low on the list.
They shouldn’t miss multiple sports practices to make it to dress fittings or vendor meetings, and they shouldn’t skip their homework because they had to address wedding envelopes.
Make sure that your kids’ everyday lives are valued, and avoid projecting any wedding planning stress onto them.
And if any children are not yet warmed up to their future step-parent, don’t force them into any planning tasks. Respect where they are in their journey and work to make them feel supported and included.
If you aren’t yet living with your partner, you’ll soon be blending families into one household. That may mean you need a larger house or a place that’s convenient to two separate schools or communities. So begin looking into that as soon as possible.
One of the best things you can do for your future blended family is to go to counseling. A lot of pre marriage counseling focuses on coupling as first-time newlyweds. So it may be better to find a family therapist who can counsel the family as a whole.
Not only will this give you and your partner a better toolkit for navigating the complexities of your new family, but it will also create a positive association with counseling.
Your kids will see that you are taking this significant change seriously, and they won’t view counseling as a last-ditch effort to get them to change their attitude or actions. Instead, it’s a starting point so everyone can get a say in the blending process.
When the wedding day finally arrives, you’ll be marrying the love of your life, but you’ll also be blending families. This is when most of the blending fun will happen.
You can signify to your children and to all your wedding guests that you’re marrying as a family and incorporating everyone’s needs and emotions in your life.
Here are ways you can include kids on your wedding day as a blended family:
Pro Tip: If a child is resistant to the wedding, give them their space. Don’t force them to wear something they don’t want to. Allow them to sit where they want, and let them skip out on photos.
Definitely see a family counselor to navigate these challenges, but don’t force them to fake it on the wedding day, even if you feel like it makes you look bad. Most people understand that it’s not necessarily personal and that blending families can be tough on children.
Once you’ve said “I Do,” the challenges and joys are still ahead of you. Make sure you build a network of support for your blended family. This could be through professional counselors, extended family, childcare providers, neighbors, or friends. And make sure you stay intentional about making all children feel valued.
Here are ways to better support your collective children while also building a healthy marriage as a couple:
Just as each marriage is different, each blended family is unique as well. So value you and your spouse’s children as individuals with various emotions and needs. They may be totally excited about the wedding one day and then down about it the next (or possibly all within an hour). That’s just part of the adventure and something you’ll learn to respond to over time.
Some of the best things in life take time and flexibility, so as you’re blending families, give everyone grace and acceptance. You may find more love and support there than you ever thought possible.