When you’re marrying a person who has children, there are a lot of factors to consider when you begin the monumental task of wedding planning. A major question is whether you can use the time you spend planning to help you and your soon-to-be stepkid(s) bond before the big day. The answer is yes; just check out the five ideas below!
1. Include Them in the Wedding Ceremony Itself
If you are comfortable with it and the children are too, be sure to give them a role in your actual wedding ceremony! Find out in what way they may want to participate and encourage them to do so. Do you have young kids who would want to be flower girls or ring bearers? Or an older kid who might be interested in a junior bridesmaid or usher position? Go ahead and let them! It will go a long way to making them feel like a real part of your marriage from the beginning.
These roles also often include planning portions—like trying on bridesmaid dresses—that you can use as an additional bonding activity. Feeling like active participants will not only help you grow your connection with the kids, but it’ll also help assuage potential negative feelings or fears from the children about your nuptials!
If the children aren’t comfortable being in the wedding party, maybe they’d be interested in doing a reading or singing a song as a part of the ceremony. Some families even choose to say vows to their partner as well as additional vows that the entire family participates in. There are lots of options to help the kids feel included, and help you get to know each other before the big day!
2. Ask for Their Ideas and Go Along With Them (If You Can)
Depending on the age of the children, you might feel comfortable asking them for ideas about the ceremony or reception! Realize, of course, that kids can have some—shall we say—creative ideas, but they just might come out with something brilliant! When my husband and I first got engaged, we asked my then 10-year-old stepdaughter what she felt like we NEEDED to have at the wedding. Her answer? A chocolate fountain! And so, of course, we made sure to have one—and it was awesome! Not only is it super sweet and special for the kids to see their ideas realized at your wedding, but you also might end up with an amazing idea you never would’ve come up with on your own!
3. Get Their Help With Decision-Making
Another option, which might be especially useful for younger stepkids, is to get their help with age-appropriate decisions related to the wedding. This is similar to getting their ideas, but it has a little more structure surrounding it, so it’s great for the little ones! Do you already know that you want to have a candy bar at the reception? Give the kids five options for candy to include and have them pick their top three! Preteens might want some input (if you’re comfortable with it) on what their clothing will be for the event—giving them a choice between three dresses or three ties allows them to feel included in the decision-making process but allows you to know you’re still going to end up with an outcome that you like! Older children (if you feel they’ll be able to behave well, provide appropriate feedback, etc.) would probably enjoy taking a tour of the venue you’ve chosen or helping chose the design for the programs or invitations. Just a sidenote: make sure you only include them in decisions you genuinely do not mind feedback on, because kids tend to be honest to a fault.
4. Have Them Help With Tasks
Even young children can help with some of the wedding-related tasks! You’ll have many envelopes to lick, stamps to stick, programs to fold, and items to unwrap—why not include the kids in these activities? It’ll give you lots of time together working side-by-side and, at the end of the day, they’ll really feel like they had a hand in making this wedding happen. This will likely make some of your tasks take longer, but the reward of having your soon-to-be stepkids proud of the work they’ve done will be well worth it! Just make sure whatever tasks you give to them are age-appropriate and low-stakes. The last thing you want is for your planning time to turn into fighting time because something is ruined.
5. Include Them as Much as They Want to Be
Your wedding is about you and your partner, absolutely, but in this unique situation it is also about the new family you are forming. And the more you’re able to appropriately include the kids, the more opportunities you have to bond with them during this exciting and crazy time. Some children may not be interested in participating in the nitty-gritty of wedding planning, and that’s okay too! Leaving the door open for their participation moving forward is a great way to make them feel valued even if they aren’t up for being actively involved.
Remember: your wedding is an amazing, exciting, wonderful day, and letting the kids be as much a part of that positive energy as possible is going to have great results for your ability to bond with them! Follow their lead, give them opportunities to help and participate, and have an amazing time prepping for your family’s big day!