When I got this email a couple of week’s back, I can’t tell you how happy it made me to have the chance to help someone directly, with specific information that they are looking for. I love to be able to help people with their weddings wherever they are in the world, which is why I write this blog!
There is so much knowledge in this head of mine and years of expertise to go with it and if I can help people sort out their wedding and save them from pulling their hair out, then that’s as good as eating a bar of chocolate or glass of wine for me. And if you know how much I love wine and chocolate, you’ll know what a big deal that is!
So here is a little extract of the email I received from a bride who is getting married later on this year.
I will be having my father walk me down the aisle on the day and give a speech at the dinner, but I also have a step-father who has played quite a large part in my upbringing. Without overshadowing my dad, I am trying to think of a role for my step-dad to play that will show my appreciation towards him and that I haven’t forgotten him. I feel it’s a tricky situation because I want both of them to be happy! I wondered if you had any ideas of how people involve their step-parents?
Nowadays, our family structures are the most dynamic and varied they’ve ever been. Long gone are the days when everyone had a mum and a dad, who were still married to each other when their own children’s marriages took place. Our families are now made up of step parents, step siblings, half siblings, two mums, two dads and so many other variations. I was working with a couple last year both of whose parents were all divorced and remarried. So all together there were two sets of mums, dads, step dads and step mums! Welcome to our new world.
So as with the bride above, you can see how our family dynamics can now also have an effect on our own wedding celebrations and how we need to look at new ways to be able to accommodate ALL of the special people in our lives.
For some it can be problematic and a bit of a worry trying to give everyone a role. Nobody wants any one to get upset and everyone just wants everyone to be happy. But how can you guarantee it?
So let’s have a look at how you can involve your nearest and dearest during your ceremony and help you to choose what might work best for you. Although, I am answering this question specifically with step dads in mind, these elements could actually apply to step mums and mums and dads too, in fact anyone with a special place in your heart!
So, here are my top suggestions.
Have them both walk you down the aisle.
Now, you’d have to have been living under a rock, if you didn’t see the wedding photos that went viral last year of the dad who when walking his daughter down the aisle, grabbed her stepdad from the side and got him to help walk the bride down the aisle, too. I’m not even going to pretend that I had eye allergies, I was crying my eyes out, plain and simple. What a beautiful gesture.
Okay, so I know this scenario is a little different in that the gesture came from the dad and not the bride, but the sentiment is the same. The dad in this story said that he would not have felt right walking his daughter down the aisle by himself, knowing that her step-dad also had played a huge part in her upbringing.
Many brides recognise this in their own situation. They love their dads but they also love their step dads. For some brides, even though they are close to their dads, they perhaps have lived with the step-dads more than they did their actual dads, and so for many this relationship can’t go unacknowledged and some brides feel like not acknowledging it within the ceremony can make the relationship seem less important.
However, unlike in this viral story where the gesture came from the dad, if you choose to do this in your own ceremony you will really need to know your family dynamic inside out and to have a good idea of how your request is going to be met by both your dad and your stepdad. Is your dad going to feel like his role is diminished? Is your stepdad going to feel like he is treading on your dad’s toes?
Personally, I think after any initial shock or upset, most people should be able to embrace your wishes, even if their own feelings have been slightly bruised. Obviously, the more amicable the relationship between your dad and step dad is, the easier it will be. If, for example, your stepdad is the man your mum left your dad for, then you could understand why your dad might not want to share such a role with your step dad, even if your relationship with your step dad is a good and loving one.
There is much to think about with this option, as it is a big, bold decision to make. But nobody will know better than you how this decision will play out and perhaps a bit of advice from other family and friends can help you to make the right one.
Have him be a ring bearer
Nowhere, and I mean nowhere is it written down that only best men or pageboy/ring bearers are the only ones who can deliver wedding rings. This is simply what has happened historically and we are in fact in a time where couples are choosing whoever the hell they’d like to be a ring bearer, just as they should.
So there is no reason whatsoever why you couldn’t have your stepdad be the deliverer of your ring. Logistically, the groom or your spouse to-be can also have their own person of choice and so when the time comes for the rings to be presented, both of the chosen two can hand over each ring. There is nothing that says only one person can deliver both rings!
I think this is a lovely role to give a stepdad; the guardian of your ring before it is placed on your finger. If you wanted to ramp up the role a notch, you could include a ring presentation vow that your step dad gets to be involved with. You celebrant or wedding registrar could say something to this effect.
Celebrant: (Step dad’s name) do you present these rings to Brad and Angelina as a true friend and loyal companion?
Step dad: I do
Me: And as a dear relative who has been witness to the love and happiness that Brad and Angelina have found together over the years, do you support them in their union and the pledges that they make to each other?
Step dad: I do
This might work well if your dad is also having a speaking role within your ceremony, if for example you are having a traditional element of asking your father to formally give you away.
Ask him to do a reading
Asking your step dad to read a poem or reading at your ceremony is also a really special role that you can give to him, especially if you’re planning on having only one reading. Any step-dad would feel honoured to be asked and any nervous ones would surely put their worries aside in order to do something so lovely for their step daughter. This is also a great option if you’ve planned on having your dad do a speech during dinner.
Make him an usher/groomsman
If your stepdad would really love to be a part of your wedding celebrations but maybe feels like a role like the above ones puts him too much in the spotlight, then maybe a secondary role as an usher or groomsmen is right up his street! He may really cherish being able to be useful during the ceremony by helping guests find their seats, handing out ceremony programmes and generally being on hand for anything that might need a hand! This role can really suit anyone who wants to be a part of your big day but also perhaps wants to be a little low-key with their involvement.
So there you have it, some suggestions which cover all bases and which hopefully can help you to decide which role will suit your nearest and dearest in the best way.
Good luck and I’d love to hear if this has inspired you in anyway or made you think of any other ideas.