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Bridal Guide: The parental dilemma
Blended families are not uncommon these days. A bride and groom may have more than two sets of parents to accommodate in their wedding. If the parents do not know each other, as is the case with most in-laws, or are uncomfortable with each other, as is sometimes the case with adoptions and remarriages, accommodating everyone can be difficult. Here are some tips for brides and grooms dealing with multiple sets of parents, adoptive, biological, step or whatever the case may be.
All parents should be invited to participate in the wedding, but only those who are willing should be expected to take part. The bride and groom should sit down with each parent on their home turf and find out who wants to participate in their wedding. Some people are more comfortable sitting on the sidelines. The groom’s stepmother, for example, might want nothing more than to have a dance with him at the reception. The bride and groom should arrange for that and leave it be.
When possible, the bride and groom should play to the parents’ skills. If the groom’s stepfather is a great singer, then by all means he should sing at the wedding. If the bride’s mother is a great cook, then by all means she should attend the catering tastings. The bride and groom just need to make sure everyone is aware of who is doing what. That way, should the green-eyed monster come calling, they can deal with it right then and there, long before their big day.
Traditionally, adoptive and/or biological parents’ wishes supersede stepparents’ wishes. However, that does not have to be the case, particularly if the bride or groom is close to a stepparent. The bride’s stepfather may have raised her from an infant and feel he has earned the right to walk her down the aisle. The bride might agree, but before extending the offer, she should discuss it with her biological father first. She should express her feelings on the matter and be prepared to make a compromise. Perhaps her father could escort her into the church while her stepfather walks her down the aisle. Or, perhaps they could both accompany her down the aisle. What bride wouldn’t feel extra special with a father on each side.
The bride and groom should do their best to accommodate their parents’ wishes. However, it is not their duty to ensure that all 10 parents get exactly what they want. Parental demands can get out of control, and when they do, the bride and groom need not acquiesce. It is their wedding after all, not their parents’.
No matter what the nature of the relationship or how demanding parents may be, the bride and groom should always respect them. Wedding planning is stressful enough without adding familial tensions. The bride and groom should try to keep tension at bay by listening to what the parents have to say and being respectful of their feelings. That’s right. Parents have feelings. While they might all love the bride and groom, they might not all love each other. The bride and groom should understand that and establish boundaries where necessary. If the adoptive mother and biological mother do not get along, there is no reason to insist they host the couples shower together. Each of them could host a shower, or one could host the shower and the other the post-wedding brunch.
Dealing with two sets of parents soon to be in-laws is hard enough without adding adoptive parents and stepparents to the mix. Brides and grooms in the situation should relax, follow the tips above and respect their parents’ wishes within reason.
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