Step family not part of the wedding party

abraham_2008November 23, 2008

My son is getting married soon and my wife is his stepmother. The bride to be has manipulated "her way" with the wedding party and has left out all of the step family siblings (our other children, 4 and 5 years old). My son seems to be oblivious to all that is going on. He says he didnt think about his little step brother and step sister untill it was brough to his attnetion. However the bride to be knew this was an issue already. My wife (his stepmother) has now lost her temper with the bride to be wanting to know why our children (the step family) have been excluded from the wedding party. What is correct wedding etiquette in this situation? Normally all children close to the bride and groom would be invited to attend. There is plenty for 3 or 4 little children to do in a wedding.

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Personally, I think your wife has no business losing her temper. It's not her wedding. The bride has the right to have 'her way' where the wedding party is concerned, it's not 'manipulating'. You can't force the bride to put anyone in the wedding. It should be a decision between the bride & groom. Often, pressure from parents and future in laws can force a bride to include people, but then pressuring or demanding she include people, can ultimately lead to bad feelings that will continue long after the wedding is over.

My first impression is that there is some sort of underlying tension with your wife and future daughter in law or son. It seems that she might have a chip on her shoulder about being 'steps' that are being slighted.

Your question is "What is correct wedding etiquette in this situation?" and I would say that the bride chooses who gets to be in her wedding. Should she include the children, it would be nice of her and good for future family relations, but she isn't required to. It is very poor etiquette of your wife to lose her temper and make demands. Your wife should apologize and behave herself. Someday, there may be grandchildren that you and your wife want to have a relationship with. Causing a rift now, can follow her (and you) for a long time to come. Let it go and enjoy your son's wedding.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 1:47AM
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" Normally all children close to the bride and groom would be invited to attend. There is plenty for 3 or 4 little children to do in a wedding."
I have never heard of this being a convention anywhere. There is no requirement for page boys, flower girls or any child participation. If the bride wants to do it, fine. If she doesn't, also fine. She also is not required to choose any particular people for her wedding party with respect to familial relationships. If she wants to choose a pack of total strangers that's her prerogative. Your wife is the one who's out of line. As Ima suggests, let it go and enjoy the wedding.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 2:17AM
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I agree with the comments that its up to the bride, but also would like clarification.

1. You say the children are not in the wedding party, but then say "Normally all children close to the bride and groom would be invited to attend." -- are the children not invited to the wedding.

2. Are there other small children invited to wedding or to be part of wedding party? Many brides do not want small children at wedding out of a fear that it could get disruptive (and if one or two invited, then all must be).

3. You say your wife "lost her temper" -- does that mean she spoke to the bride and chastised her for not having the children in the wedding party? Agree with the others, if she did she should apologize.

Go and enjoy the wedding.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 7:31AM
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It's already been said, and I agree completely.
Your wife was out of line.

What she could have said was something along the lines of "Little Billy and Susie will be so excited! Do you suppose you could find some little job for them to do so they could feel like a real part of the festivities?"

But from where she is now, the best thing she could do is apologize sincerely, and say that in her culture, it is customary for all of the children to have a role, but that she has since learned that that is not the norm everywhere and she was wrong to feel slighted. Close with a simple apology for making a scene.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 10:05AM
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Agree with everything above. Not necessarily normal or expected either that all young children or that all siblings are included as wedding party. Your wife owes bride an apology.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 10:38AM
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It is unclear to me if the issue is that the kids were not included in the wedding itself or if they were not invited to the entire event.

Either way, I agree with the other posters. This is not your wife's wedding and she does not have the right to dictate how it should or will be.

I got married two months ago and the only children IN the wedding party were my daughter and my stepson, both age 6. I have a 8 year old cousin, a 9 year old cousin and a 5 year old cousin. None of them were included in the wedding party or ceremony, although they were all guests at the wedding.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 10:57AM
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Agree with all...bride wedding day is her day....if she does't want to include someone its her night....
And there is not ettiquette on kids being part of the wedding..some weddings are with no kids at all, not even at the reception.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 1:21PM
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Sir, I don't know your religion or customs, but I have never heard of there being any positions for children in a wedding except ringbearer and flower girl. How could that include "all children close to the bride?" If the bride, herself, has 5 little brothers or 7 small nephews, do they all act as ringbearers? Just kidding, but you get my meaning.

What did this mean?
However the bride to be knew this was an issue already.
Am I correct to suspect this is probably the reason that she didn't ask them to participate? She doesn't want to be bothered and understandably so. She wants your son to be her husband, and she wants her lovely wedding. She doesn't want the added family drama nor to be told what to do.

Your wife isn't the first one ever, but I don't understand people thinking they have any right to dictate or insist on anything concerning another person's wedding. Not even the bride's own mother should do that and since the groom didn't either, then there is no one.

What is correct wedding etiquette in this situation?
The correct etiquette is for you and your wife to attend your son's wedding with a smile. Try to have a great time and heartily congratulate the bride and groom, or at least don't do anything to sour the day for the bride. And I agree with others that your wife should apologize to the bride if she said anything to her.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 4:43AM
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It is my understanding that the proper etiquette for weddings is to wait for an invitation to be involved in the proceedings and then if one does not come to graciously attend without causing the bride and groom any added stress on a day that is already filled with anxiety. People, IMO, that cause problems and draw attention to themselves at this time also make problems at other times. Some people just can't keep their mouths shut and feel the need to disrupt things. It is not the groom's SMs place to request anything. What a sad way to start out a marriage with already having your sm mother-in-law call you out on the carpet. That would be a sure way of getting uninvited to a wedding in my book.

Are the young children not invited at all or just not included in any roles? I would not include them in a role either if I had my ring barer and flower girl chosen. (she may not even want that)

Unless you have omitted some important information I think that your wife should apologize and the two of you should start over to do anything that you can do to make amends and help this couple achieve a beautiful wedding day.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 8:56AM
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I just re-read this post and had to comment on this turn of phrase --

"The bride to be has manipulated "her way" with the wedding party"

The bride's side of the wedding party is entirely the bride's CHOICE -- no "manipulation" necessary. She gets to invite whoever she wants - period. And to accuse her of "manipulation" for choosing some people and not others is really small-minded and offensive.

In fact, even interpreting the kids' exclusion as a slight is a stretch. Seriously - How close is the bride to the groom's 20-years-younger half-siblings? And other than ring-bearer and flower girl (optional roles the bride would normally fill with her own very young relatives) -- what 'spot' in the wedding party would you have these very young children fill?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:36AM
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I have a variety of stepfamily, and I got married two days ago...

All the children of all the wedding guests were invited...
But since I have 8 nieces and nephews (5 bio, 3 step), and a goddaughter, the only child in the wedding party was my DH's 9yo son who walked in with his dad, and then sat down at his seat (very much like how my dad and SM did with me). How on earth could I have found 9 more jobs??

The "correct etiquette" is that the bride and groom choose the bridal party, including children... But, to keep family peace and be diplomatic, they should try to be fairly even.

I advise against meddling with what the bride and groom want to do with the wedding.
What's that expression? Something about the MOG should "wear beige and keep her mouth shut" - I think it applies to SMOG too.
The bride already has a million people telling her what to do, blaming her for things they don't like, trying to wheedle to get their way, and so on. You should try to NOT be part of the problem here - be a supportive ear and ask what they need help with while offering as few opinions as possible.

Additionally, if I understand correctly - the younger stepsiblings are 4 and 5, but your son is old enough to marry... So he may not really feel like your wife is playing a MOG role or that her children should have an important role - they might not feel very much like "family" to him, even though they may idolize him as their big brother.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:37AM
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Thanks for the many responses.
This message is an attempt to clarify a few statements I made previously. The bride-to-be did ask my grandson (my oldest daughter's son) to be the ring bearer and another little girl (relative of hers) to be a flower girl. For what its worth (nothing at this point), all weddings I have ever attended have always made light of having little children participate. People typically come to see the bride and the kids. As far as what several kids can do according to several wedding planners: there can be two ring bearers, someone can pickup and carry the trane of the dress, there can be 'several' flower girls, two children can carry a flower to each of the mothers, the list goes on.

As "sweeby" said in her response: The stepmother could have said something along the lines of "Little Billy and Susie will be so excited! Do you suppose you could find some little job for them to do so they could feel like a real part of the festivities?" My wife did affectionately mention something very similar to that and the response she received from the bride-to-be was "Ohhh No!, We have already planned out the wedding and it's a done deal"! (while motioning with her hands). This statement was made publicly by the bride-to-be at a family gathering. This is what really started the sore feelings and nothing was resolved.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 12:17PM
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And the bride may feel that supervising two small children in a wedding party is all she can deal with and she has invited one from each side. My guess is your son is closer to his sister than to his stepbrothers (as she is likely closer in age). AS much as you rsented the brides public response, my advice is dont ask senstive questions in public. The bride may have felt if she said something like "I'll think about it" -- she would have been nagged for the next two months.

When did the temper come into play?

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 12:35PM
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abraham...How long have you been married to your wife? Did your son ever live with you while you were married? What is your son's realationship to his much younger step-siblings? If it never even occured to your son to bring up wanting them in the wedding, it makes me believe they really are not that close. Are the children really step-sibs or are they half-sibs?

None of this really matters except it may be what the bride-to-be considered when she was choosing the children who would be in the wedding party. The truth of the matter is, the bride is not obligated to have anybody in the wedding party. She should not be made to feel bad about not having your wives children in the wedding. It was completely out of line for your wife to even ask, let alone get angry about the bride's decision.

My husband has 3 stepsisters and a 1 brother. I have 1 brother and 1 stepbrother. Our wedding involved one of his stepsisters (who happens to be a good friend of mine...I chose her because she is my friend, not because she is DH's sister), his brother and my brother. No other steps were involved. We also did not invite any children to our wedding and none were in the wedding party. 2 Children unexpectedly came with their parents and I wasn't very happy about that. The bottom line is that it is your son's wedding and it is the Bride's wedding. Your wife had her wedding the way she chose, and the Bride should be free to do the same. Obviously your son didn't make a big deal about having the children in the wedding. If it isn't important to him, you shouldn't expect it to be important to his Fiance.

Your wife should appoligize and never, ever bring it up again.

Just because you have seen it done in other weddings doesn't mean that this is the way the bride wants it in HER wedding. It's all about preference. The more small children that are in a wedding, the greater the chance that something will go wrong. It's not worth the stress for the bride and is not a priority to her.

I agree with kkny, your wife should not have brought that up in a public setting if she couldn't take "no" for an answer. It was not appropriate for her to ask in the first place. If you or your wife wanted the children in the wedding, you should have brought it up privately with your son and let him negotiate the particulars with his Bride-to-be. If she was against the notion then you both should be able to take no for an answer.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 2:42PM
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People typically attend weddings to see the bride and the kids - ARE YOU KIDDING? I don't think so. I know that more than 40 years ago when I was the flower girl in my sister's wedding no one was there to see me. They were there for my sister and her husband as it was their day. Perhaps your FDIL already knows that she can have more than one flower girl etc. and maybe she just doesn't want to do that. It's her wedding and it's your son's wedding and none of it is your business. I agree w/KKNY, your wife needs to apologize.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 2:52PM
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None of your business. Bride's day, bride's way. The small children will not know they are not included unless you tell them. Give them an important job yourself, such as carrying the wedding gift (nonbreakable!), making a card for the bride and groom, holding the birdseed to throw, etc. It sounds like you and your wife want to be more important, rather than this being about the kids. You had your day, as did your wife.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 3:00PM
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People typically come to see the bride and the kids.
I thought people typically come to weddings to celebrate their loved ones' happy occasion...

As far as what several kids can do according to several wedding planners You didn't actually go out and talk to "several wedding planners" in order to get ammunition enabling you to find fault with the way your son and DIL are planning their wedding? I hope I misunderstood this? If not, I wouldn't recommend mentioning to your future DIL that you did this. There are an infinite number of ways a wedding ceremony *could* be planned. That doesn't mean it's a slight if they don't do it exactly the way you (or your wife) would like. It certainly doesn't mean you should go find your own wedding planner to help you tell her she's doing it "wrong".

Nothing you've said about this wedding seems out of the ordinary to me. A ring bearer and a flower girl, one from the bride's family and one from the groom's family, is what I would consider the "norm" or most common. Not that that means it's the only way to to it. But certainly nothing to be considered a slight or intentionally exclusionary to other kids. There's just nothing to take offense at here, and you (or your wife) seem to looking awfully hard for a reason.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 4:03PM
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"I know that more than 40 years ago when I was the flower girl in my sister's wedding no one was there to see me."

Gerina, I just have to say... my stepdaughter was my flower girl. Just as she got to the start of the aisle to walk in front of me, she turned around and said, "they're all standing for me!" and was so excited that 'she' was the center of attention.

My family is in the wedding industry and while there are several things kids 'can' do, that doesn't mean that the bride is expected to find something for them to do.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 7:20PM
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Sorry but when I get a wedding invitation first thing I always thought/think of was "who" is going to watch the kids so I can go....

Even when I got married the kids were there sure but an hour into the reception their mom came to get them .... if mom hadn't taken them my MIL was ready to leave to and take all the grandchildren under the age of 12 with her. Nephews and Neices under 12 all left by 8Pm and the adults stayed till after midnight.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 11:10AM
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I think it is extremely sad that other people step in and express an opinion about what they think should be done at someone else's wedding. This is one time in your life that I feel if your feelings are hurt or if you disagree with what has been planned you just suck it up and keep your mouth shut. I guarantee you that any rude or hurtful comments made to the bride about her special day will be remembered for years to come. It is unbelievable to me that even if you were to feel slighted that you would have the gonads to complain. In this case I see no reason for your wife to have said one word.

Making comments about what someone has planned for their wedding is in the same category as insensitive comments made at the time of some one's death or about the funeral IMO.

My SD33 just emailed me her pictures of her wedding. She and hubby went to Hawaii and got married on the beach. They did what they wanted to do. It looked absolutely beautiful and I am so happy that they did what THEY wanted to do. Would I have liked to see it, sure but they did what they wanted to and the memories that they made will be about them and not all the step/bio/half relations that would have screwed the whole thing up. My SD has been through enough in her life. She has earned the right to decide for herself what she wants. She has my blessing and I am proud of her. Now, when she has a baby we'll talk again! LOL

I have mentioned at an earlier date, on another post, that my feelings were hurt to a degree during her first wedding. I said nothing and looked at it from her point of view as best I could. I have never regretted keeping my mouth shut. Not an easy thing for me to do in most situations but that time I did. She still does not know that at the time I was a little hurt. She will never know. IMO the words that need to be spoken at these times are "Is there any thing that I can do to help you?"

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 11:54AM
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I don't know anyone that had their step siblings in their wedding unless they grew up with their step siblings, which based on the age difference didn't occur here. These children are not your son's brother and sister, they are your wive's children (they are steps, not halves, correct?).

Additionally, 3 and 4 year olds are in most instances too young to be in a wedding (walking down the aisle). My niece was 4 and only managed it because she held her older sister's hand. For many 3 and 4 (and even 5) year olds it is scary to walk down the aisle with all these strange people looking at you. Many brides are extremely gun shy about small children in weddings because of fiascos they have witnessed for heard about (I've seen many myself). Usually they use extreme caution in the children they choose. Since she doesn't get along with your wife she may additionally not have chosen to give them a role because your wife will be a PITA and meddlesome. As she has been so far.

She should ask what color and length dress to wear and otherwise mind her own business. It is not her child getting married. If your wife didn't want a public answer to her question then she shouldn't have asked in public.

I have to say, my step mother behaved beautifully at my wedding and I will be forever grateful for that. She asked me to approve her dress, she was thrilled I gave her flowers like DH's mother and the godmothers, and she didn't try to be my mother (my mother has passed).

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 2:05PM
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Is this a joke?

I think the bride should ask very publically what is her amount in your wifes will.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 6:20PM
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"As far as what several kids can do according to several wedding planners: there can be two ring bearers, someone can pickup and carry the trane of the dress, there can be 'several' flower girls, two children can carry a flower to each of the mothers, the list goes on."

Give me a break. I'll bet no one here, including the OP, has ever seen a wedding like this -- 6+ children "and on and on." How many kids did the OP have in HIS wedding(s)? I love kids, too, but I don't blame anyone for not wanting her wedding to look like a kindergarten pageant.

I have an, um, eccentric uncle who fathered a child in his seventies. He thinks that the universe revolves around this little boy and that everyone else thinks so, too. He sends us all photos -- framed. Now, this man is a complete narcissist -- but I see the same syndrome, with less horsepower, in many older (and some young) parents: "Everyone is so excited to see my children!"

As a matter of fact, I agree that weddings are family events, not just about the couple alone, and that they function as reunions for far-flung families. A great time to see the children, I agree. But NOT necessarily at the wedding itself, unless the hosts choose to invite children.

And absolutely, when it comes to who is to be included in the wedding party itself, that is completely up to the bride and groom, and I agree with the others that it is really crossing a line to try to push them about it. Even if the couple chose, say, her same-age step-siblings but not his; that would be insensitive on their part, but it still would be wrong to complain or criticize. The OP's wife owes an apology.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 12:03AM
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It's up to the bride & groom who they want in their wedding party. If I were in your shoes, dare I say I wouldn't mind one bit! Being part of the wedding party can be tedious, ESPECIALLY for the youngest members of the family. Add to that the expense of the clothing, the contstant pressure for them to stay clean in their "good" clothes and be ready to perform at the drop of the hat. I'd say you lucked out.

The photographer can still take a wonderful family photo or two of just your family. Be happy with that.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 3:29PM
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I think Nivea's got the best idea! :-)

At my wedding I had 3 flowers girls - my SD and my two cousins, who were the same age (5) and 3 years old than SD. Another cousin (same age as SD) was the ring bearer, and my teen age cousin was an usher. I had a big wedding, but even then I knew it might be a bit much. It was important to me though - these kids and I are very close, they are the kids of my mom's 3 younger brothers, and we're a very tight family. Were DH's cousins of similar age in the wedding? Nope. They are not close and there was no reason for them to be. None of his family even questioned it as they knew there wasn't much of a connection - he's closer to my young cousins than his.

It was our day and we had reasons for making the choices we did. To question those, and take such issue with them, is outrageous.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 4:00PM
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