Blended Family Wedding Etiquette

Blended families are the new norm, and many engaged couples are facing the same difficult question – what am I supposed to do so everyone feels included, and no one gets their feelings hurt?  While this can be a difficult question to answer, because every family is different, there are some standard rules to follow on blended family wedding etiquette. 

  1.  No matter how close you are with your stepparents, etiquette dictates that you recognize them.

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How close you are with your stepparents will determine how much you wish to involve them.  Whatever you do, do not leave them out completely.  Your stepparent is very important to your mother or father (or why would they have married them?!) and it’s just plain rude not to include them in appropriate ways.  Does this mean you have to let your stepfather walk you down the aisle?  No, of course not.  However, your stepfather should definitely be seated next to your mother during the ceremony, and should be announced along with your mother when they enter the reception.

  1.  Who should walk me down the aisle?

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(Read the full story about the lucky and loved bride above here)

This is one of the most asked questions we get from our brides who come from blended families.  The answer really boils down to one question – who are you closest with?  If you grew up with your stepfather and you have a close bond, he should be the one to walk you down the aisle.  If you, instead, grew up with your father and are much closer to him – then it’s a no brainer, walk with your father.

But what if you’re equally close to both and you want to honor both of them?  You have a few options.

  1.  Half & Half – One walks you halfway down the aisle, and then passes you off to the other, who walks you down the remainder of the aisle and hands you off to your groom.
  1.  Together – Each father takes an arm and completes the entire walk down the aisle with you.
  1.  Neither – While it’s a very new trend, it’s definitely an option, especially for brides who are not particularly close with either father.  These brides can choose to have another male relative they are close with walk them down the aisle instead, such as an uncle or brother, or opt to walk down the aisle with their groom.  This last option is very modern, but is slowly growing in popularity.
  1.  How should the invitations be addressed?

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Invitations are becoming exceptionally complicated to address.  Traditionally, the bride’s father pays for the wedding, so the bride’s father and mother are listed on the invitation as a unit, i.e. Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  

Today, if the bride’s parents are divorced, often both new couples will help pay for the wedding, thus both couples need to be recognized on the invite, including the stepparents.  That might look something like this:  Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Mr. & Mrs. Morgan

However, things can get quite complicated if the bride’s parents did not change their last name upon remarriage.  In cases such as these, it can be best to simply put “Together with their families,” a strategy many couples are now choosing.

  1.  What about dances?

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If you are close with both your stepfather and father it is best to give them both this honor.  If you are not particularly close with your stepfather, it is perfectly okay to only do a first dance with your father.

Another option many brides are now considering is to do a take on a combined song – you begin the dance with one father, and then about 2 minutes in, switch off to the other father – but also switch the song at the same time.

  1.  How should I seat people at the blended family wedding table?

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Give each new “social unit” their own family table!  The bride and groom sit with their wedding party, and each new family has their own table nearby – one to the left, one to the right, for instance.  This way everyone feels equally included, but you avoid any awkwardness by not forcing the ex-wife to sit by the new wife.

A few final points:

  • Remember to thank your stepparents as well in any toasts you give.
  • Remember to give the 411 to the photographer before the day of to avoid any awkward situations.
  • Include your step-siblings as much as is possible to avoid them feeling left out.

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While planning a blended family wedding comes with its own set of difficulties, it also means there are that many more people there on your special day to support you in your new marriage!  Take a deep breath, relax, and allow yourself to enjoy the day.