Weddings and the Step family

“My step daughter and I have had a great relationship for over 12 years,” the woman shared. “She is planning her wedding, and I assumed I would be included. But all of a sudden she treats me like I don’t exist. I don’t understand. What happened?”

Although this step mother was surprised by her step daughter’s aloofness, during the wedding planning it’s very normal. There are several reasons why weddings, in particular, can stir strong emotions on both sides.

Many women have dreamed, planned, and browsed bridal magazines since childhood. On that magnificent day we want all the attention to be on the bride. Our dream is something out of a Disney fairy tale—ball gown, prince, and carriage included. (I think I hear birds chirping?)

Therefore, your step daughter may be trying to minimize the potential for conflict on her special day. It is very likely that she is concerned about her mother’s response if she includes you in the planning process. Another possibility is that she desires one-on-one special time just between her and her mom, and maybe a few close friends.

As hard as it is to grasp, the wedding is also the one day when most children of divorce would like their parents to be viewed as a couple. In her mind she may be saying, “I know my parents are divorced. But on this ONE day—MY DAY—I want my mother and my father, the 2 people who brought me into the world, to stand beside me in unity. ”

The question is this: Will you give her that wedding gift?

I had to make this decision—twice. Before each of my step sons got married I told them, “I know step family situations can cause stress for the bride and groom. I want this to be YOUR day. You take pictures however you want them. Don’t worry about me, or whether I need to be included, or where I should sit. Do whatever is easy and keeps the peace. Take as many photos alone with your mom and dad together as you want. This is YOUR day.”

They breathed a sigh of relief. No stress on this end. It was my way of communicating, “I love you.”

“I’m pretty sure when the wedding is over your relationship with your step daughter will go back to what it was before,” I replied to this step mother. “The thing to remember is she isn’t rejecting YOU, she is likely trying to keep peace and create a calm atmosphere for her special day.”

“If you truly care about her, you will take a step back and allow her to plan this day as she desires,” I continued. “Offer to help and if she wants you to participate, she will ask. If not, pray for her and the groom, support your husband’s role, go buy a gorgeous dress you feel wonderful in, and dance your feet off at the reception.”  This is step family living.

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2 thoughts on “Weddings and the Step family

  1. Laura,

    Thank you for this post. I am a stepdaughter and my wedding became stressful (afterwards) because of family dynamics. Thank you for encouraging not only stepmothers but other family members to remember that this is a day for the bride and groom. I thought my wedding went well until it was all over and then I started hearing from family members how it wasn’t right that so-and-so wasn’t here, and this person wasn’t there, a day that was a wonderful day for me quickly became marred with tears and apologizes.
    Thank you for giving a gift to your stepchildren, on their wedding day, that probably meant more to them than fine china.

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  2. no more often. Have a ways to go, yet. Only this morning I told my hubsand I’m overwhelmed. ) Still learning, but committed to the process. Thanks for the comment! Send me your address via email and I’ll mail you a book!

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