Last fall, our oldest married. When two people commit their lives together, it is truly a reverent occasion. And it’s always so special to see a bride transformed on her wedding day into the most beautiful woman in the room! But weddings can also be full of tension, stress and unfilled expectations. Add in a blended family and the wedding can become a ticking time bomb. Here are some surprise lessons we learned, and how my husband and I went about surviving a blended family wedding.
Surviving a Blended Family Wedding
As a little history, I met our oldest boy when he was 9. I have been able to take a parenting role in his life with the usual stuff such as driving him to school, taking him to doctor appointments, fixing his favorite meals, going to football games and helping him get his license. But officially I’m his “step-mom”.
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Lower Your Expectation
So going into the wedding plans I knew I was kinda back of the line so to speak. Thus, I tried to make sure my expectations were fairly low on what role if any I was to play. I don’t say this to demean my role or the role of step-parent in any way. I know all the work, time and effort I put in during the parenting years. But I just say this to express how I tried to consider how our oldest and his fiance would need to consider their other parents’ opinions first.
This was also something that was important to Country Boy. He wanted his son to have a great wedding and not be stressed out worrying if his Dad liked something. So by keeping our expectations low, we hoped to not put undue pressure on “the kids” and avoid any hurt feelings on our part. Check out Little Red’s adorable sunglasses here.
Do you have certain expectations for when your kids get married? If you are part of a blended family, you may need to check your hopes and dreams up against your priorities.
If our priority is that the wedding should be a joyous occasion then we may have to be the one to compromise in order to make that happen for our kids. We may also hope to be involved in a certain part of the wedding or have a say as to where the wedding is held. Try to get real specific about what is most important and be willing to let go of some other expectations.
I felt like I did this fairly well…until I didn’t.
So you know how you can be so composed, until someone does something to your family. My one hiccup was when the photographer (who took some lovely photos:) told my husband that she would try to get to us after she finished all the other photos.
What? My husband is the father of the groom. When did the dad not count as one of THE top pictures. If you all only knew the lengths my husband went, to be an amazing involved dad. I hate seeing legit dads get treated as second class.
But since I knew Country Boy would NOT be happy with me if I lost it, I sheathed my claws. No sense making a scene and startling the photographer, who probably had no idea why I was upset. We did eventually get a nice picture which was even sent to me later!
Jump in When You Can
While I think it is important to let others know what you would like, during a blended family wedding it may or may not happen. At the same time when an opportunity does open for you to help – jump in. Now is not the time to worry about trying to make sure everything is 50/50. This goes a long way in surviving a blended family wedding!
Going through a court battle? Read here for tips on surviving the emotional toll.
As the time grew closer, It looked like Country Boy and I were going to have the opportunity to host the rehearsal dinner for everyone. While this was a lot of work, I was very pleased to be able to take part in making their event special.
We decided to have the event catered, so that freed me up to focus on decorating and making desserts. We decided on mums for table decorations so my mom purchased and kept all the mums alive at her house, because I have been known to kill plants! One of my sister-in-laws, that is creatively gifted, helped me decorate the mums. She also created a beautiful sign (like this one). And then Little Red and I baked up a storm getting all the pies ready.
All Hands on Deck…
The venue that the kids had picked for the wedding was beautiful. But when we arrived I began to notice how the place had supplied next to nothing. Table and chairs, that was it.
Never fear. My daughter-in-law’s mom had thought of everything…and then some. She had even hired a few people to help set everything up. But we could see that even with all the help it was going to take a lot of effort to get everything set up.
No problem for my husband’s family. We are used to doing most of the work for family weddings. So my in-laws, part of my husband’s family and Country Boy and I were able to jump in to help. It was fun to see it all come together. And it was a blessing to help my daughter-in-law’s mom create the kind of wedding she had envisioned for her daughter. With the barn setting, twinkle lights and white table cloths it was magical! Photo booth or cookie bar, anyone?
The cakes my mother-in-law made were also spectacular and scrumptious. And again, I was able to jump in on frosting and assembly help detail:)
Create Support for Yourself
This one caught my husband and I totally off guard and is our biggest take away.
Do you have these 3 relationships in your life for healthy personal growth? Read here!
Our son and his bride made the guest list and graciously included family on all sides. After inviting family and some friends of their own there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for additional guests. A few weeks before the wedding we were told that we could invite some friends if we chose, but by then we had already let our friends know that we would not be able to extend an invitation. So we decided to just keep things as is.
This was a mistake. Weddings are emotional. You need to have close family and friends around you who get you and love you. I didn’t realize how much I would need that support, for US!
When your kids get married, it is a huge next step. Even as a step-mom it was bittersweet to see our oldest get married. I was very happy for him and his bride, but I was still a little sad to see one stage of his life closing.
Read here for 4 Keys to Maneuvering Through Life’s Transitions.
Ask Question and Don’t Assume
Lastly, ask questions and don’t assume. With two other moms involved, I assumed that they had plenty of help with the gift registry. Later on I learned that our older son and his bride could have used a few recommendations on items to put on the registry.
Now, that wasn’t a major deal. But I give that as an example of how asking more questions may help you identify ways that you can participate in either the wedding celebration or helping the new couple set up a home.
Surviving a Blended Family Wedding
When I was checking with our oldest and his wife about writing this post, they both agreed that the wedding had gone a lot smoother than they thought it would. Which of course, made Country Boy and I very happy to hear.
I’m not sure I know of any wedding where there wasn’t some misunderstanding, differences of opinions or hurt feelings. But it can help to maintain your key priorities and keep these 4 tips in mind: lower your expectation, jump in when you can, create support for yourself and ask questions!
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So have you survived any family weddings lately?
Just for fun tell me…what is the best part of a wedding to you?? I’m all about the dress and the white frosting on white wedding cake!!
Miranda, your priorities were so right that nothing could have gone wrong! When you put the Bride and Groom’s happiness and satisfaction first, you’re well on your way to success.
I hadn’t considered how sad it must be for parents to close this chapter with their kids. Having a good support system in place sounds like a must. I’ll remember that!
My husband does such a great job of reminding me to focus on the bigger goal or priority! Thankful for his big picture perspective. We were caught off guard too. Our oldest boy moved out a while ago so I didn’t quite expect the strong emotions over this new stage in his life.
Miranda, just so you know that you and Country Boy did an amazing job in helping with the wedding set up and clean up. Little Red was a beautiful bridesmaid and you were gorgeous and gracious through it all. Even Country Boy looked great in his Stetson! The rehersal dinner was also great. The food and decorations were fantastic and it all seemed to be Bride and Groom focused with little stress on ALL the combined parents/step parents in attendance. I would give you an A+ Thanks for loving our boy!
He did look quite handsome in his Stetson didn’t he?:) Awww…thanks for the kind words. I think it really did come together and we were so pleased to here from the kids that they felt like the only thing wrong with all the wedding celebrations was that it went by “too quickly”:) Couldn’t help adding in pics from all your beautiful cakes.
Crystal Mendez says
I’m the step-mom to my oldest girl – she’s 11 and I take care of her full time, thanks for these tips for me to consider! So glad the wedding went well, I can imagine it was stressful for the parents involved!
Hi Crystal! Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you get to have your step-daughter with you full time. I’m sure that helps you have time to bond while she is still young:) So glad you found the post helpful. Best wishes in your step-mom journey!
Misty | Simple Organized Lifestyle says
It sounds like everyone came together and this was a very special day for the bride and groom. Those cakes are too pretty to eat!
Heather BeE says
You’d already told me so much about the wedding, but it was nice to hear a few more of the details:) I totally agree with you about dads getting slighted more and more these days and know that your country boy is a very involved dad. It really must’ve been difficult to not say anything on his behalf, but at love how you recognized what was best to do to make the day go smoother. I am sorry that you didn’t have a small group of friends there to support you, but don’t worry too much. The two of you were doing what you thought best at the time and now you’re able to share this advice with all of us! And those cakes that your mother-in-law made look amazing! Great decorating drizzling skills:)
Kathleen Boyer says
Great post! We need more realist points of view in this topic. It certainly is not an opportunity to redo your own weddings or those of other siblings… like our daughter GETS this since our son didn’t have this at his wedding, crazy ideas are out there these days.
My favorite thing are the clever decorating options.
Thank you Kathy! Yes, weddings can turn into something other than a celebration joining two people, when so many people are involved! Oh, I know! Pinterest has added a whole other level to wedding decorations:)