In the 21st century, having a step-parent is fairly common. But unfortunately, wedding traditions haven’t kept pace. This can create some awkward problems when planning your wedding. To keep the peace on your big day, it’s important to have a plan in place to easily navigate your wedding day without causing any undue offence. Thankfully, our etiquette guide to including step-parents at your wedding can help.
Plan Your Wedding With Them
Your parents and step-parents may be fabulous friends, or they may not get along. Either way, it’s important that everyone feels respected and included. One way to ensure this is to involve them in the preparations. This could include going shopping with your mum and step-mum or attending suit fittings together with your dad and step-dad. If there are tensions, bringing someone else along such as the maid of honour. Just make sure everyone is briefed in advance!
Naturally, if one of them doesn’t want to be part of the shopping, don’t force it. In such a situation, why not divide responsibilities? You could attend a gown fitting with your mum and a menu tasting with a step-parent. The important thing is to try to give enough time to each of them separately to consult on their opinion about aspects of your big day so that they feel included.
Have An Appropriate Seating Plan
The bride and groom’s parents traditionally sit at the top table. However, if you or your spouse’s parents are divorced, this can be tricky. A good starting point is to try to include everyone. Ask your wedding venue if it is feasible to accommodate seating for your step-parents on the top table too.
Of course, it’s always best to ask everyone’s preference, just in case anyone would rather not be seated at the top table. For instance, parents who have not remarried may wish to sit with their friends or close family instead, cater for your wants and theirs as well, and this will make life easier and avoid unnecessary chaos at your wedding.
Walking Down The Aisle
Walking the bride down the aisle must be planned beforehand. Traditionally, it’s the role of the bride’s biological father, but the step-father should not be left out of the wedding completely. However, this does depends on whether the biological father is alive and his current relationship with the bride.
To avoid any conflict, a bride may wish to have both her father and step-father walk her down the aisle side by side, or one may wish to walk halfway before handing over to the other. Choose what suits your family relationship best.
A receiving line includes the newlywed couple and their parents, and the person who ‘hosts’ the wedding stands at the top of the line. The bride’s father is traditionally the host, followed by the bride’s mother and then the groom’s parents. For divorced parents who have remarried, have a plan of how they will line up. If all sets of parents are on good terms, they may all decide to stand in the receiving line, with the groom’s parents, for instance, standing between the bride’s remarried parents. In instances where both newlyweds’ parents are divorced and remarried, couples should alternate positions. In essence, it’s customary to ensure exes are not stood next to one another.
Traditionally, a wedding usually features special moments such as speeches and honour dances. So that no one feels left out, why not include the step-parents in the father-daughter dance or ask your parents their opinion. It might be that one would prefer not to be the centre of attention. The same goes for the father of the bride speech. Both biological and stepfather may prefer to give their own speeches or work on one together, with each taking turns, if they are on good terms.
Planning a wedding day when you have step-parents to consider can be difficult, but the important thing to remember is this is your special day. Rather than ignore the situation, try to include everyone, get their opinion and listen to their concerns. If you have any questions or would like more advice, feel free to contact our wedding planning team at St Audries Park.