For blended family couples, a wedding ceremony culminates the process of falling in love and becoming a couple (what I like to call coupleness) and starts the process of becoming a family (or family- ness). That process begins to a small degree before the wedding, but relationally and practically, it really expands and deepens for the entire family unit after the wedding.
Now, here’s the opportunity. The process of planning and preparing for the wedding — and the ceremony itself — can help build family identity and bonding. It can accelerate becoming family to one another even before the wedding.
Have you ever heard about a blended family wedding that ended in disaster because the adult kids didn’t show up, or one of the children cried all the way through the ceremony? The couple is happy and excited about the wedding, but the children are resentful, angry, or hurt by it. But just as a poorly planned wedding can make things worse for your family, a wisely designed experience can improve it. Research confirms that when children are consulted about the decision to marry and the timing of it, when they are actively included in planning the wedding, and they are able to participate in a wedding that honors the couple’s vows and acknowledges both the children’s family of origin and their role in the new stepfamily, they are much more likely to experience the ceremony itself as important and full of meaning.