If you’re marrying someone with children, becoming a stepparent is a big part of your wedding. Whether the child is two or twenty-two, it’s a significant change for both of you. But it’s also a chance to become a source of love and support for someone.
One of the best ways to help your stepchild feel confident and loved during this change is to include them in the wedding plans. Each child is different in how much they enjoy attention and how excited they are for the wedding, so it can be hard to find ideas that are a good match for your unique situation.
Knowing that each family is different, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of ideas to help everyone include their stepchildren in wedding plans. We’ve organized it by general age, but some kids might enjoy an idea from another age group.
So keep reading to find the best ways to include your stepchildren in the wedding, and get ready for an experience that’s fun, inclusive, and true to who you are.
Adult Children (22+)
If you’re taking on adult stepchildren, your job may be a bit simpler. Whether they are on board for the wedding or not, they won’t be an ever-present presence in your home. But you should still make sure they feel included in your wedding.
The good news is that you now have adults in your life, and they’ll bring with them a set of fully-formed hobbies, skills, and abilities that you can use to make your wedding great.
Be sure to use their help in a fun, inclusive way. They are likely busy with jobs and families and want to be a part of the wedding without being treated like free labor. Jamie Rosle, co-founder of Broadly Entertaining, stresses that, “knowing each step-child’s level of comfort and commitment needs to be accounted for. There can be activities done in private or during the ceremony that show your desire to include them, proving that you acknowledge and respect every single person in your newly married life.”
Below are our favorite ways to include adult children in the wedding.
- They can help look at venues.
- Ask them to be bridesmaids or groomsmen.
- Invite them along to shop for attire or wedding rings.
- Use their skills and talents, like making playlists, designing decorations, doing hair & makeup, or taking extra photos.
- They could walk your fiance down the aisle.
- Ask them to officiate the wedding.
- Include their children as flower girls and ring bearers.
- They may like creating the signature cocktail.
- They can give a toast at the reception.
- Have a day-after brunch with them.
- If they lend any skills for your wedding day, give them credit in the program or a speech.
- Give them a thoughtful gift, like nice jewelry, a watch, or a nice bottle of champagne.
College Age Children (18-22)
College-age children are going through many changes and may feel like they are losing a place in their existing families. As they navigate their entry into adulthood, you can make sure they always feel welcomed into your new home. Here are ways to start that level of support with the wedding:
- They could help address envelopes.
- Ask for their help designing a wedding website.
- They can create programs, menus, or even a wedding logo.
- See if they have ideas for your wedding color pallet.
- Bring them attire shopping with you.
- Ask them to be bridesmaids and groomsmen, and have them help choose their own attire.
- Get mani/pedis with them before the wedding.
- They can find quotes or verses to include in the ceremony, and then they can either read them at the wedding or give them to the officiant.
- Ask for help writing your vows.
- Have them think of yard games to have during the reception.
- If they’re old enough, send them to buy the alcohol for the bar.
- Create a choreographed dance for the reception.
- Set aside time for the photographer to get a few special photos of them while they’re dressed up for the wedding.
- Give them a gift they’ll enjoy, like AirPods, fragrances, or even cash.
Teenage stepchildren aren’t as scary as they may seem, though they may need extra patience and support to adjust to their new home life. Here are ways you can include them in wedding planning to make sure they feel like a part of the new family:
- They can go attire shopping with you.
- Bring them along for the cake tasting.
- See if they can help address invitations.
- They may be able to make a really nice wedding website for you.
- Teens may really enjoy being bridesmaids & groomsmen, but some may not be into the idea, so definitely give them a choice.
- They may like creating a playlist for your getting-ready time.
- They can help select the side dishes for the menu.
- If they’re outgoing, they can make a speech at the reception or share a reading during the ceremony.
- If they’re more comfortable behind the scenes, see if they can capture some video coverage during the wedding day.
- See if they want to create a DIY photo booth complete with a backdrop, props, and an Instant Camera.
- Ask them to choose some songs for the ceremony and reception.
- Get them a great gift, either a keepsake like jewelry or something they really want, like a new iPhone.
Older Kids & Preteens (9-12)
If your soon-to-be stepchildren are too old for silly games but too young for serious responsibility, you can still include them in your wedding plans. In fact, this is a fun age when they can get excited and be a delightful presence as you enjoy your day.
Here are some of our favorite ideas for middle-childhood kids (around 9-12) to get into the wedding planning joy:
- They could be junior bridesmaids and groomsmen. They can dress in matching attire and make an entrance, but may enjoy being seated during the ceremony.
- If they aren’t interested in being in the wedding party, see if they’ll like being ushers or greeters for the ceremony.
- They can decorate by creating a petal aisle, setting centerpieces on tables, or placing accents on chairs.
- They can seal and stamp envelopes for invitations.
- They can hold and present the rings at the ceremony.
- They can help write your vows.
- They might like to help create a seating chart.
- If your cocktail hour is a DIY-style party, they may like bringing out appetizers.
Have a signature mocktail named for them.
- Outgoing kids might like making a toast at the reception.
- Include fun activities for them at the reception, like a photo booth, scavenger hunt, or yard games.
- Have them sign as witnesses on a keepsake marriage certificate.
- Give them keepsake gifts, like a necklace, custom blanket, or a designer toy.
Younger Kids (5-9)
If you’re becoming the stepparent of a younger elementary-aged child, you’re sure to play an important role in their development. This is an incredible opportunity to enrich their life, and you can begin by including them in your wedding plans. Here are favorite ideas to include K-4th graders in your wedding plans:
- They can stamp invitations and seal them.
- Enjoy the wedding morning as a family, doing a simple yet special activity, like breakfast out, a spa treatment, or even a quick movie on the couch. They may enjoy a relaxing start to the busy wedding day.
- They may like getting their hair professionally styled for the wedding.
- Kids this age can be flower girls and ring bearers. They may like being a part of the processional and then sitting down for the ceremony.
- They could walk your fiance down the aisle.
- They can hold and present the rings, just have an adult be in charge of keeping track of it until the ceremony.
- Include them in a sand or candle ceremony during the wedding.
- Have them choose a song for the dance party.
- Kids may enjoy picking silly props for a DIY photo booth.
- Include activities at the reception that they’ll have fun with, like animal balloons, a wedding-themed bingo game, or sidewalk chalk.
- They can select side dishes for your menu or create a separate kiddie menu.
- Give them a keepsake gift, like simple jewelry, a portrait painting, or a special collectible.
Preschool Age (3-5)
Preschool-age children will be able to understand the concept of the wedding and look forward to it, so they’ll likely be eager to help with the plans. Here are ways you can include them throughout the engagement and the wedding day:
- See if they can stamp invitations.
- Preschool-aged children are the ideal age to be flower girls and ring bearers.
- Have age-appropriate activities at the wedding, like coloring pages or yard games
- Include them in some of your engagement photos.
- Include them in a sand ceremony during the wedding.
- If they have a favorite special occasion snack, like candy or cookies, include that at the cocktail hour.
- Have them walk down the aisle with your fiance.
- They can join the first dance after you and your fiance get your time in the spotlight.
Toddlers are a lot to handle, and including them too much in the wedding may be more stressful than joyful. Still, there are ways to show your union as a family and have them be a part of this great memory.
- Have them be flower girls or ring bearers.
- Include them in a couple of photos but not so many that it becomes tiring for them.
- Consider hiring a babysitter for the wedding to help keep them occupied without it being tough on your fiance.
- If your fiance’s toddler is prone to evening time tantrums, consider having a morning wedding so they can be in the best spirits.
- They can wear simplified versions of your or your fiance’s attire.
- They may do better seated during the ceremony, but then they can join you as you exit back up the aisle at the end of the ceremony.
- Name a cocktail after them, or include them in your cake topper.
- Invite kids of all ages to the wedding to make it a family affair.
Marrying Someone With Children: How to Make it a Meaningful Wedding
Marrying someone with children can be joyful and add a lot of meaning to your life. It can also add a lot of meaning to your wedding. Choose ways to include stepchildren that are true to who they are. Don’t force them to take on any role, and be sure to accept their help when offered.
As you begin your married life by including your stepchildren, you’ll set the stage for a more successful start to your marriage.