How to Involve Your New Sister-in-Law in Wedding Planning

A bride and her future sister-in-law laughing.

There’s an old saying that goes, “When you marry someone, you marry their family.” While this nugget of wisdom isn’t applicable in every single relationship, it is true that getting married often means bringing new people into your familial circle, including your spouse’s parents and siblings. Most couples have no problem finding special roles for their fathers- and mothers-in-law, but for siblings, things can be a bit more difficult. For example, let’s say you’re getting married to a man with only one sister. You like her, but you don’t know her very well…do you have to make her a bridesmaid?

If you ask me, the answer is no. Your bridal party should be made up of the people you’re closest with, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to include someone just because you’ll be family soon (you can also skip the bridesmaid tradition completely if you want to). However, being a part of her brother’s wedding might be important to your FSIL (future sister-in-law), so it’s important to look for other ways she can be included in the wedding, whether it’s the planning process or the actual event.

Take Her Dress Shopping

Two women looking at wedding dresses in a dress shop.

Dress shopping is always one of the first tasks on every wedding to-do list, and there’s a good reason why. Trying on a wedding dress can be a beautiful, emotional experience. And dress shopping isn’t just a good time for the bride; it can also be a fun memory for her loved ones to make with the bride, complete with gorgeous fashion and (sometimes) free champagne!

Many brides bring along their mothers and closest friends to help make the big decision, so why not ask your FSIL to join in? Dress shopping can be a great opportunity to include your new sister in the wedding planning experience. You can get to know each other as you sift through racks of beautiful dresses—and she might give you a helpful fashion suggestion or two.

Showcase Her Skills

A young woman singing at a wedding reception.

Like every other woman out there, your sister-in-law has her own interests, skills, and talents. And like most people out there, she probably really enjoys using those talents! This can be another great way to include her in your wedding and learn more about your new family member.

Is your FSIL a great graphic designer? Maybe she’d like to contribute to your wedding plans by making the programs. Is she an amazing musician? You always need someone to play a song as you walk down the aisle. Asking your new sister for her expertise will show her how much you admire and appreciate her skills, and that’s sure to make her feel special.

However, there is one minor caveat here: do not force your sister-in-law to do things for you! Sometimes, the couples’ families just wants to relax and enjoy the wedding; being forced to “work” on the big day can only make them feel resentful. If your award-winning baker FSIL doesn’t want to make your cake, just let it go.

Let Her Throw Your Shower

There’s a lot of contradicting info around who should host the bridal shower. Some folks say that the responsibility lies with the maid of honor and bridesmaids, while others say that party is a mother’s job. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who wants to throw you a shower should be able to—and this can be a great way for your FSIL to have a special role in the wedding plans.

Planning a bridal shower can be a lot of fun. You can think up cute games, decorate, and show the bride how excited you are for her happily ever after. Also, shower planners get to spend some extra time with the bride as they put the party together, which can be another opportunity for the new in-laws to connect! If your sister-in-law wants to host, I’d accept and get excited about it! However, I wouldn’t suggest asking her to host your shower; that may give her more responsibility than she’s willing to handle.

Include Her in Bridesmaid Activities

A trio of women at a spa with face masks on a pedicures.

Your bridal party has a full schedule in the weeks leading up to your nuptials. There are bachelor and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, and sometimes a little pre-wedding pampering. While this can be a fun way to unwind with your girlfriends before your big day, there’s actually no reason to keep these events totally exclusive.

If you want to include your FSIL in the wedding experience, why not invite her to a few bridal party activities? Inviting her to have a drink with you and your friends or to have her makeup done the morning of the wedding with you is a sweet gesture, and it will let her feel like a part of your inner circle, even if she’s not up there with you guys at the altar.

While you may not know your sister-in-law very well yet, she’s going to be a part of your life for a long, long time. It’s best to get to know her now and start your journey to being one big, happy family!

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