- Family and Parenting
Planning A Wedding When You Have Step-Kids
Best Day Ever
If you spend much time with little girls, you will often hear them proclaim each and every day as “the best day EVER!” For grown women, however, only two occasions stand out as the best days ever: their wedding day and the day they gave birth. No vacation, work promotion, honor, award, community service event, or holiday celebration—no matter how wonderful—can trump the magical feel of a wedding or the wonder of motherhood.
Unless you were raised by a militant feminist, your perception of marriage has been influenced by the royal weddings of Disney princesses as a child, by amorous novels as a teen, and by Hollywood romantic comedies as an adult. When you’re single, you dream of meeting your soul mate and making the fairytale a reality. When you’re engaged, planning a wedding, booking your honeymoon vacation, and setting up a household makes you giddy with excitement and anticipation.
Nothing can burst your happy bubble quite like factoring step-kids into the wedding equation. The optimistic side of you hopes to embrace your ready-made family and include them in your special day—naturally, you want to start your marriage off on the right foot. If you’re one of the lucky ones who enjoys a close and cozy relationship with your step-kids-to-be, this will be easy. Younger step-kids make ideal ring bearers or flower girls. Older children are perfect for tending the guest book, distributing programs, or serving as ushers.
What if you aren’t so lucky? What if your relationship with your step-kids is rocky, or worse yet, what if they hate you? What if the feeling is mutual, yet you’ve decided to cement your relationship with their father anyway? You’re on precarious footing. If you weren’t so in love, you’d tell yourself to run the opposite direction. You question whether your love can even survive what lies ahead. You’re not going to be one of those starry-eyed newlyweds starting off with a blank slate who can steer their futures any direction they choose. Your slate isn’t blank, and your options are more defined. If you insist on going down this road, you can count on more turmoil and conflict than you care to admit. With that in mind, focus on making your wedding day a memory that will always bring a smile to your face, fill your heart with warmth, renew your hope, and remind you of all the reasons you fell in love with this man, especially on those rough step-mom days.
When In Doubt, Don't
Your husband-to-be wants his kids at your wedding. No matter how you feel about them, they share his blood, he’s their dad, and he loves them and wants them to share in his joy on one of the most important days of his life. You can’t blame him. Somehow, he overlooks their animosity towards you and is blind to their disapproval because he assumes they will support him just because he’s their dad. He also underestimates the influence their mother’s rancor over your pending nuptials will affect them. You, on the other hand, are very sensitive to all the veiled jabs, the prickly innuendos, and the pervading coldness of their gaze. You want to be the better person who does the right thing—welcoming them to your wedding—yet, you know this is self-sabotage. Instead of basking in happiness and joy, your wedding day will be filled with one thing: STRESS!
We live in a society that preaches self-centeredness—if it feels good, do it. This is very much at odds with the Golden Rule—do unto others as you’d have done unto you. Yet, while society encourages its members to put “self” first, it will ironically label you with narcissistic personality disorder if you fail to include your step-kids in what’s supposed to be the best day of YOUR life.
Weddings are about more than just your happiness. The institution of marriage is sacred. Regardless of how the homosexual agenda has perverted it, God is the author of marriage. He’s the one who defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. He’s the one who instructed husbands and wives to be fruitful and multiply. So, when you’re talking about marriage, you’re talking about a sacred act that happens when a man and woman join together and become one flesh. While some might be flippant about marriage and call it quits as soon as life gets tough, this was never God’s design for marriage. Marriage has a holy component to it, and marriage should be a viewed, not only as a day to glow in the light of each other’s love, but as very serious time where two people are making a life-long commitment to each other before God. This day truly IS about the two of you.
Plan accordingly. If you wonder “WWJD” (what would Jesus do?) about your step-kids, you’ll find there’s always a solution that takes everyone and their feelings into account without backing you into a corner. One option is to elope. You might initially balk at the idea, but give it some thought. If this is your first wedding, your hopes might fizzle like a deflating balloon. If this is your second marriage, you can envision this viable alternative. Eloping takes the pressure off of everyone. It’s understood that when a couple elopes, they go alone. They get married alone. They go on their honeymoon alone. They get to enjoy being ALONE for a precious few days. Your parents might be disappointed. If you also have kids from a prior marriage, they might be disappointed. There’s a good chance HIS kids won’t be disappointed—most likely, they never wanted any part of your wedding anyway. People who know you and love you will understand your reasons and support you. The focus can be solely on you and your husband, as you bond and create a solid foundation from which to build. Remember, after the honeymoon, your time alone together as a couple will be limited since children are involved.
The possibilities for an elopement are as endless as your imagination. Flashback to the popular 80’s show, The Love Boat—have a cruise ship wedding. Why not? Whether you love the ocean, the lake, the woods, the city, the country, the tropics, the mountains, or Las Vegas, pick your favorite place and go for it. You may be content with a Justice of the Peace, or you might find a quaint church for your union. Either way, what God has joined together, let no man (or step-child) put asunder!
Be A Peace-Keeper
How can you elope without causing hurt feelings? Consider inviting everyone to a reception, party, or cook-out when you get home. And yes, invite all the kiddos. Give family and friends a chance to convey their well wishes and share in the celebration. Even if some personalities collide or the step-kids send a glare or two your direction, it won’t matter. You enjoyed your personal, intimate wedding, and not only did you tie the knot in peace, the solitude of your honeymoon strengthened the connection to your husband.
Not including the step-kids in your wedding should never be about spite. If spite is your motive, then your heart is in the wrong place and needs an adjustment. When you are embarking on a lifelong commitment with the man you love, the last thing you want to take with you on the journey is spite, malice, or vindictiveness. This type of attitude sets the wrong tone for your marriage and opens the door to escalating conflict. Some may point an accusing finger towards you in condemnation for not involving the step-kids in your wedding, but they aren’t seeing the situation from the right angle. A wedding without step-kids is the time when you and your spouse are fortifying your relationship, making it strong enough and solid enough to withstand and overcome the conflicts blended families bring to a marriage. It’s the time where both partners enjoy uninterrupted, focused attention to let each one know they are loved and a priority. It’s a time of unspoken assertions that no matter what you face, you can handle it together. When couples have that quiet, alone time together, they are much better equipped emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually to tackle “life” together as a unit. Allowing spite to creep in separates you from your spouse and places you on opposing teams. Your husband needs to sense that your motivation to conduct a wedding without his kids stems from your desire to just be with him and savor your relationship. If he suspects you are being mean, he’s going to rally behind his kids against you—not the best way to kick off a marriage! Conversely, if you have children from a prior marriage, they cannot be included either. In your mind, your kids are no trouble and won’t cause the stress and strain his will, but including one set of kids and not the other only brings division and pits both sets against the other. Be fair.
What About the Honeymoon?
If your husband’s ex is the stereotypical variety who seizes every opportunity to create parental alienation, she’s going to tell her kids they should at LEAST get to go on the honeymoon. She’ll paint a colorful picture of all the fun they’ll be missing out on if you don’t let them go with you. When they discover the honeymoon is only for the two of you, they may be overwhelmed with disappointment and bitterness, and you will be the target of their resentment—just like the ex strategically premeditated.
Is it wrong to deprive the step-kids of a wonderful vacation? No, it’s not. While some newly blended families happily incorporate children into their honeymoons, viewing it more as a family vacation, they aren’t you. With a ready-made family and court-appointed visitation schedules to work around, this could be the last chance you have for extended alone time with your husband. It’s not wrong to take advantage of this time. It’s NOT a vacation—it’s your honeymoon, and kids don’t belong in this romantic setting.
Since your goal is a healthy marriage and a happy home, you have another opportunity to show kindness rather than spite. Sit your step-kids down and explain that honeymoons are meant for newly married couples alone, but that you are also planning a special mini-vacation with them in the near future. Present them with a few exciting, family-oriented options, and let them enjoy picking their favorite one. You might consider a weekend at an amusement park or indoor waterpark. Instead of a get-away vacation, you could spend a few consecutive days on nearby, day-trip destinations, like visiting the zoo, a science center, an indoor trampoline park, aquarium, or horse park. Just be sure to present them with activities they love and will look forward to doing with the two of you. While you’re on your honeymoon, remember to look for special souvenirs to give to the kids when you return home. Maybe they will appreciate the gifts, and maybe they won’t. Regardless, bringing them something from your trip communicates that you thought of them affectionately when you were away. It’s an olive branch.
Are Your Step-Kids Coming?
Would you like to include your step-kids in your wedding day?
Set A Positive Tone From the Start
If your relationship with your future step-kids is troubled and you find yourself aggravated and stressed by them frequently, your wedding day won’t play out differently than any other day. It’s okay to plan a wedding without them. They aren’t getting married—you are. Your wedding day is one of the only days it can truly be all about you and your man. After the honeymoon, this all changes, and the emphasis will be on “The Family.” It doesn’t mean you and your husband will never be alone again, but alone time will have to be strategically juggled between work schedules, commitments, and visitation times. (Try to have at least one date night each month where the two of you can be together without all the distractions to regroup and refresh to preserve unity). Your attitude, however, can truly determine the altitude of your relationship with your husband and his kids. You will have so many opportunities as a step-mom to be hurt, offended, challenged, and angered, but when you choose to be the better person who builds bridges and mends fences with your step-kids, you will win your husband’s support. When it comes to planning your step-kid-free wedding day and honeymoon, let go of the guilt. The alone time will power up your love and put both of you in the right frame of mind to face the future with hope!