HOW TO INCLUDE FAMILY IN YOUR WEDDING
When Sister Sledge penned the famous lines “We are family, get up everybody and sing”, they probably weren’t in the throes of planning a wedding. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that weddings can sometimes bring out the ugly of family dynamics. Yet, they can also be a beautiful opportunity to bring everyone together through a joyful occasion.
We take a closer look at how to include family in your wedding… and not just in the traditional sense.
Regardless of who raised you – mother, father, step-parents, foster parents, grandparents, or guardians – you are seen as their little girl or boy getting married. Mostly, they are proud as punch and simply want to be included in one of the biggest days of your life.
If you are the only son/daughter, it will be tough. This is their one and only chance to play mother or father of the bride/groom. If you are the first to be married, it will be tough. Like you, they are venturing into the unknown world of wedding planning. If you are the second, third, sixth, or last to wed, it will be tough. They now know how this thing works, and both suggestions and comparisons will flow.
There is only one word to describe how you can handle your parents – gracefully.
Keep reminding yourself that they, too, may be experiencing a myriad of emotions. From excitement to nerves, feeling nostalgic to bittersweet, weddings have a way of heightening all the feels. Extend some grace, rather than assuming the worst. Step into their shoes, rather than stating it’s only about you. Take a minute to look at the experience psychologically and how all parties might be feeling. Generally speaking, intentions are well-meaning and they’re not out to railroad your wedding (caveat: if they are, then schedule a sit down to gently discuss any conflicts and see if an agreeable arrangement can be reached).
The bottom line is your parents just want to know they still matter to you even though you are starting a life with another.
In times gone by, there has been plenty of parental input in weddings. Traditionally, a mother’s role would be to plan the whole celebration, whilst fathers would give their daughters away. Today, it’s more about the ways in which they can support the couple both in the lead up and on the wedding day. Practically speaking, let your parents know how they can help. It could be that you assign them a project such as researching transport options, following up on RSVPs, or coming along to bridal fittings. Knowing they have a purpose and are contributing to the plans will likely make them feel useful and valued.
If your parents are financially contributing in any way, then there is even more reason to be graceful and grateful. After all, wedding plans may look significantly different without their financial assistance. Again, it is a good idea to discuss boundaries in this situation. There needs to be a balance between the extremes of simply demanding invoices be paid, and an expectation that their monetary gift equals control. Keep the communication lines open and make sure there is clarity around expectations.
Ultimately, healthy discussion, honesty, expression of gratitude, and gentle boundaries will go a long way to making your family interactions during this time positive.
We’re talking about brothers and sisters. Not only your own siblings, but that of your future spouse too. Your relationships with them will likely determine what role they play in your wedding.
Many brides have their sisters as bridesmaids, with the same being said for grooms and their brothers. It can become complicated though with large families, blended families, future brothers- and sisters-in-law… and that’s without adding close friends to the equation. So, who gets to stand by your side? Well, that is completely up to you! The complexities and nuances of relationships mean there is no one clear answer.
Our encouragement is simply not to make decisions based on obligation or tradition alone. Sure, if you’re as tight as the Brady Bunch and the thought of leaving anyone out is unthinkable, then go all out as the royals do. But if you’re wanting something a little different – perhaps a smaller bridal party or just your bestie by your side – then the good news is there are other ways to include loved ones in your wedding.
Consider some of these alternatives:
- Every ceremony needs someone to greet guests warmly so the role of usher is an important one.
- Invite someone special to read a passage, poem, or to give a blessing at the ceremony.
- Don’t quite trust the best man to remember the rings? Allocate this role to someone responsible.
- There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes tasks that can be entrusted to someone helpful. Think drivers to transport the bridal party, pick up and delivery of the cake, or setting up the reception just so.
- Utilise your loved ones’ talents whether that’s designing the invitations, singing/playing you down the aisle, organising the hens/bucks, or incorporating cultural traditions at the reception… the opportunities are endless.
Missing But Not Forgotten
Wedding days are often missing some very important people… whether it’s loved ones that have passed, or family that are unable to make it due to health or distance. One of our favourite things is seeing how these special people are honoured and included through thoughtful touches:
- Display a photo of those that are no longer with you. You may like to frame it alongside a quote or their own wedding date, or light a candle in their memory.
- Incorporate something personal of theirs. Perhaps it’s a trinket tied to the bouquet, an heirloom piece of jewellery/cufflinks, or having a shot of their favourite whiskey at the reception.
- Make time for a personal phone/video call to those that are unable to make it. Perhaps it’s a quiet moment during morning preparations, or with just the two of you before entering the reception.
- Set up Zoom for everyone who cannot attend. It’s not the same as being there in person, but it’s a great opportunity to feel like they are part of the celebrations.
How you choose to include your family is completely up to you! Whether you’re traditional or creative, have a large village or a more intimate tribe, involving loved ones in your wedding is meaningful – both to you and to them.
Feel free to chat with our Functions Manager Ellie to see how Factory51 can personalise your wedding and create memories for generations.