Who Has a Say in Your Wedding Plans?
As if there weren't already enough people telling you what to do, you will need to consider even more people's opinions when a stepchild is included in the marriage. First and foremost, you and your partner do have the final say. What you decide is best is what will ultimately occur. People will have their opinions, reactions, and grumblings, but it is you and your partner who have to make the decisions and live with the fallout. To avoid excessive fallout, it is important that the two of you listen to at least some of the opinions of those most affected by your marriage: your stepchild, any children of your own, the other biological parent, your parents, and your partner's parents.
It is highly unlikely you will please every single person involved. If you have never planned a wedding before, you may be surprised just how important a choice between asparagus and green beans may be to your mother-in-law. But these are disappointments everyone can deal with and will eventually forget. What you need to be cautious about are decisions that may harm someone or injure relationships for a long period of time.
You and your partner will have disagreements; she may want roses and you may want lilacs. Your stepchildren will have opinions about the wedding plans as well. If your relationship with your stepchild is positive, or at least neutral, you may decide to give her a voice in some decisions or even base some of your own decisions around her choices. If you appreciate her input and want her to feel as much a part of this as possible, you could have her help pick the type of flowers, the color of the dresses, or even the perfect cake.
Perhaps your stepson is in a band; maybe you could let them play a quick set at the reception, even if they sound like howling coyotes. Decisions like these will make your wedding a celebration of your new family, not just the relationship between you and your partner. Your wedding guests may suffer through your stepson's music, but at the end of the day, you and your stepson and many others will appreciate how you included him in your special day.
If your stepdaughter can't stand you, then be careful how you involve her. For example, if you allow her to pick out the flowers, she might deliberately choose ones you are allergic to just to see how you will respond to her choice. Use reason when including your stepchild in these decisions; don't just let her take over the decision making because you want her to like you. You are still the one getting married!
If you can't stand your stepchild and he can't stand you, you may not give him much input on the wedding, but he probably won't want to give you any constructive feedback anyway. No matter what your relationship is like, there are certain courtesies you need to consider.
When you think about your stepchild, think about times in his life when he should have all the thunder. If you come in and steal his thunder by announcing your wedding date is the same date as his first gig at a bar somewhere, you are going to do some serious damage to your relationship with him. Here are a few more considerations:
Don't plan your wedding for the same time your stepchild is graduating from high school or college.
Don't plan your wedding for the same time as your stepdaughter's due date.
If this is your stepson's senior year in high school or college, take note of prom dates, senior week, final's week, and any vacations.
For your stepchild's sake, do not plan your wedding for the same month his other biological parent is getting married.
Do not plan your wedding too close to your stepchild's wedding date.
Leave Father's Day, Mother's Day, and any biological parent or stepchild birthday wedding-free days.
Yearly vacations your stepchild takes or special anniversary celebrations should also be left untouched.
Have your stepchild write a calendar of events for the year, and when you choose a date, clear the date with your stepchild. This is a common courtesy. If your stepchild is young, you may have to check his schedule with his other biological parent to make sure you are not disrupting any other plans. These thoughts should also come to mind if you have children of your own; don't steal their thunder either! If you are trying this hard to respect your stepchild, practice this same respect with your own child.
The Other Biological Parent
The other biological parent actually does have some say in the wedding plans — to a degree. If she holds your stepchild's schedule, she needs to tell you a date that works. If she is getting married as well, you will need to plan around her wedding date, shower date, bachelorette party, and honeymoon.
She may make certain requests about how you are going to incorporate her child into the wedding. Maybe she doesn't want you to use a certain song to dance with your stepson because that is the song she wants to use when she dances with him at her wedding. Maybe she doesn't want you to get married at the local hall because that is where she married your partner years ago. These are all valid requests to take into consideration. It doesn't mean you need to heed them; however, they are simple requests that will benefit your relationship with her and your stepson in the long run. If she sees you trying to appreciate her feelings, hopefully she will respect this and nitpick as little as possible.
Your parents and your partner's parents will probably have concerns similar to those of any other parent of a child who is getting married. They may have even more concerns, however, when it comes to how you are planning your wedding in regards to your stepchild. These can come out of nowhere and be very surprising to you; their concerns may even seem totally ridiculous. Your partner's parents may want you to have your five-year-old stepson as the only groomsman in the wedding. Your parents may tell you to include only your own children in the wedding and not your stepchildren. Parents and grandparents can get a little bit demanding when it comes to protecting their own. If they don't like what is going on, they will probably speak up, even if everyone else feels okay with the plans. What is important for you to remember if they make an off-the-wall request is that they are probably trying to look out for someone — you, your child, your stepchild, or your partner. Handle them gently and listen to their complaints, which may contain some nuggets of great information. Be sure the decisions you make are decisions you and your partner can defend with integrity. If you feel any pangs that might suggest your decisions are unfair or may cause irreparable harm, rethink and rework them.