From the Experts, Wedding Planning Tips, Your Event Career

How to Incorporate Stepparents into Your Client’s Wedding

Amira Harris is the owner and destination wedding specialist of Aisle Travel™ based in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Aisle Travel™ provides Canadian couples with full group travel services, destination wedding planning, and customized wedding group experiences. In addition to running her own business, Amira is also one of QC’s leading tutors for the Destination Wedding Planning course.

Now that you’ve received your wedding planner certification, your probably revved to get started! When working with couples on their big day, you’ll quickly come to realize that all clients are unique… Especially with regards to their wants and needs for their big day.

Along with these needs, there also comes specific inquiries surrounding wedding etiquette. Some clients are going to want to know what to do in certain scenarios, and they’ll be looking to YOU for answers. One such question that certified wedding planners are often asked is: how do we incorporate extended family into our big day?

More specifically, you’ll encounter many clients who are looking for ways to include a stepparent (or stepparents) into their nuptials.

It’s important to make it clear right away that there’s no black and white answer to this. It really all depends on the family dynamics of your clients. Ultimately, it all boils down to the role that the couple wants a given family member to play (or not play) in their wedding. Let’s look at 10 different ways your clients can get their stepparents involved!

Include them in the planning!

No, this does not mean they need to help plan the whole wedding. That’s your job, and your wedding planner certification will more than equip you for this task.

Rather, it could be something as simple as including them in a floral appointment or a cake tasting. For instance, if both sets of mothers get along, they can both accompany the bride to her dress appointment. This is an example of a truly special moment that can be shared with a stepparent!

Even the smallest efforts to include them will help them feel like they’re contributing something of value to your client’s big day. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for them to spend valuable time together and make amazing memories!

Give them a special task!

The nature of the task will obviously depend on how close, or how involved, your client wants their stepparents to be in the wedding. Some common ways that stepparents can get involved with the ceremony include lighting a unity candle, or having them do a reading. Alternately, during the reception, they can be responsible for providing a toast.

Give them VIP seating!

When helping your client put together their seating chart, one way they can make their stepparent feel included is to ensure they’re seated close to the couple during the reception. At the very least, they can be seated at a table with their spouse. If the stepparents all get along, they can all be seated together. This is always a great option, in the event that all parties are on amicable terms!

Could there be a greater opportunity for the couple’s parents to break bread together?

Include them in the program or on the invitations!

If both families are contributing to the big day, you can suggest that your client include them in the invitations. Of course, this may mean listing all the relevant names on their invitations, in order to keep things fair for everybody.

If that isn’t your clients cup of tea, an alternate idea is to list family on the ceremony programs instead. This is always a nice touch, and make for an effortless way to incorporate a stepparent into the big day!

Let them in on a pre or post-wedding celebration!

If your client’s stepmother has expressed an interest in planning something for the couple, there are plenty of reasons why this offer should be considered. Perhaps it can help ease the load for planning the engagement party. Maybe the bride can be treated with an additional bridal shower. It can even be something for the day of, such as a congratulatory wedding BBQ.

It’s one less thing for the couple to worry about or budget for. Who doesn’t love a party thrown in their honor?

Arrange for them to walk your client down the aisle!

It goes without saying that, like with the rest of these suggestions, this is ONLY worth considering if your client is open to the idea. We say this here specifically, because we understand that it’s typically tradition for the father of the bride to walk her down the aisle.

However, it’s totally fine for a stepparent to do this, should that be what your client wants. Another option is for both to walk her down (one on either side, one walks halfway, the other walks the rest of the way, etc.), if that’s the brides wishes. You can also do a combination of both, where one walks halfway with the bride and then the other parent walks the other half.

Over the years, I have seen so many different twists for walking down the aisle. All have been unique to the relationship.

Give them a special gift or outing!

Once you’ve earned your wedding planner certification and begin booking clients, you’ll discover that somewhere throughout the planning process, many of them like to provide their parents with a gift of appreciation. The same can easily be done for stepparents!

If your client is on a budget, don’t worry! It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. So long as there’s some level of sentimental value behind it, it’s guaranteed to be something they will forever cherish. It could be a framed photo, a piece of jewelry, an outing to their favorite restaurant, or even a heart-warming note.

Include them in the family photos!

One of the best ways to incorporate stepparents into a wedding is to include them in the family photos. This can range from having them in photos with the couple only, group family photos, or both.

If your client wishes to do this, let her know that the details can absolutely be discussed with her photographer beforehand. The photographer will have experience with this, and will know what’ll work best. They can provide advice – especially if not everyone in the family gets along.

Have a special dance!

Even though mother/son and father/bride are traditional dances, it doesn’t have to be left at that. If your client wants, they can incorporate other dances into their big day. It’s becoming more and more common for the bride and/or groom to share a special dance with a stepparent, especially if they share a close bond.

That being said, perhaps the timeline for the day of the wedding is already pretty tight. Maybe your client doesn’t want the reception to be cluttered with all kinds of dances. If so, another option they can consider is having the traditional dances, and simply trading partners in the middle of the song.

This way, both sets of parents can be included!

Thank them in the couple’s speech!

Just as your clients will likely thank their parents in their speech/toast, so too can they give a little nod to their stepparent(s). It’s a perfect chance to make them feel just as special – and included – on this memorable day!

Of course, these are just a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing! Feel free to put your own creative twist onto any of these suggestions. As you learned when earning your wedding planner certification, personalizing your client’s wedding to tailor to them is a guaranteed way to give them the best experience possible! The ways that they can include their stepparent into their big day are of no exception.

As a certified wedding planner, it’s your job to provide various options to your clients. This way, they can be prepared for every scenario. No matter if the role is big or small, it’s the couple’s choice how they would like to incorporate family into their big day.

After all, family is what weddings are all about. There’s room for everyone to play an important role!

Stay safe, happy, and healthy. Happy planning!

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