10 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Blended Family Wedding


With thought and patience, blending your families can be (almost) easy

blended family of six walking during wedding

When asked what kind of wedding we were planning, “non-traditional” wasn’t just a concept—it was a given. We had already been through our own separate divorces, moved in together, blended families, signed a mortgage, and welcomed our (now nineteen-month-old) daughter into the world, all before meeting at the altar. We knew our wedding would be a blended family affair, but we had no idea where to start since neither one of us had ever attended a wedding for a couple with children. So we intentionally created opportunities to reimagine the traditional wedding by including our children whenever possible.

how to create a heartfelt blended family wedding

Here are ten ways we made our wedding an authentic and heartfelt blended family affair:

1. The Marriage of Our Parents

We’re grown adults who footed the bill ourselves, so we let our kids play the host. For example, our invitations stated: “We invite you to celebrate the marriage of our parents…” Our program title was “Becoming a Family.” For party favors, the kids passed out copies of their favorite bedtime story, Pete at the Beach.

intimate blended family wedding ceremony

2. DIT (Do-It-Together)

Project #1: Kid-designed table numbers and signs

We eschewed overpriced paper products and instead opted for kid creations using art supplies and materials found around the house.

Project #2: Handcrafted Gifts

The kids collected shells and sea glass that were used by the mother of the bride to craft jewelry worn by the bride, bridesmaids, mothers, and officiant.

Other DIT projects: Homemade wedding cake, a collection of handcrafted quilts, happy hour food, and flower arrangements.

3. Redefining the Processional

The mother of the bride was escorted by the stepfather of the groom, and the father of the groom was escorted by the stepmother of the groom. As for our kids, our eldest daughter was Flower Power, our younger son was Dog-Bearer, our older son was Baby-Bearer, and our youngest (seven months old at the time) missed the entire ceremony due to a poorly (perfectly?) timed nap.

boy walking dog into wedding

4. Call For Support

Instead of asking “Who gives this bride in marriage?” we did a call for support.

Officiant: Do you commit to holding up this family during the good and bad, and helping them to raise their children with light and love?

Audience: We do!

5. We Dos

Knowing that we were entering into a marriage already with children, we wanted to call out our commitment to each other as co-parents and members of a blended family. To do so, we composed our own vows plus a simple version of the “I Do”:

…for life, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in conflict and tranquility, in poverty and in comfort, and in all the complexities of life that you will face together as a unique family, from this day forward?

blended family during wedding ceremony

6. Family Vows and Unity Ritual

After our individual vows, we delivered vows to the older three kids.

Bio-Parent’s Vows:

I want you to know how lucky I feel every day just knowing you are in my life. You are the energy that flows through my veins. You inspire me and I can’t imagine the man that I would have become without you in my life. Thank you for accepting Kendra into our world. There’s nobody who knows more than you how she has been there for us all. You are amazing children and honorable human beings that I am proud to call mine. And I know you will continue to care for Rebel, by loving her and keeping her safe. I am excited about our family and eagerly look forward to the future we will create together. I love you.

Stepparent’s Vows:

I promise always to treat you with love and respect. I promise to nurture and grow my relationship with each of you and to be there for you the best I can. I promise to support you in your relationships with both your mother and your father. And I hope that together we may continue to build and strengthen our own. Most of all, I promise always to treat your father with love and respect and to model for you a healthy, loving, and supportive relationship in the belief that one day you too will find such happiness in love.

(These vows were inspired by this Offbeat Bride article on “Wedding Vows for Blended Families.”)

As “Stand By Me” played and the audience sang along, we combined six bottles of sand to symbolize the blending of our families into one. The shadow box is now displayed in our living room as a reminder of how we came together that day.

7. Baby Photos

We expanded the baby photo idea to include photos of our whole family. The kids especially got a kick out of my husband’s mullet featured in his high school varsity football photo.

blended family walking together at wedding

8. A Grand Family Entrance

For the grand entrance, we decided to enter as a new family. The emcee announced, “Please welcome the new family!” It was a sweet moment to enter the reception as a family; it was an even sweeter moment to catch our breaths backstage, just the six of us, while waiting for our cue.

9. The Kids’ Table

Instead of a sweetheart table, we sat our children at the head table surrounded by strategically placed godparents, aunties, and uncles. The kids loved being in the center of everything and we loved being able to easily pass around the baby.

portrait of blended family after wedding ceremony

10. The Family Photo Op

We took advantage of the wedding photographer’s presence to do a family photo session.

Just like life, everything won’t go as planned. But with enough luck and effort, your wedding will be imperfectly perfect… just like your blended family.

Kendra Arimoto-Maselli

Kendra Arimoto is a Japanese American femme multi-genre writer, performer, conceptual artist, activist, community builder, wife, and stay-at-home mother to four children (two teenage stepsons, one six-year-old stepdaughter, and one nursing-aged daughter who was born at home).

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  • Her Lindsayship

    This was so beautiful. :’) So many great ways to really take ownership of the day! Congrats and thanks for sharing.

  • Katherine

    This is amazing! Thank you for sharing. The photos make me want to see more!

  • idkmybffjill

    WOOF those stepparent vows got me. My stepmom is so important to me and this is just the best.

    ETA: Especially this :”I promise to support you in your relationships with both your mother and your father.” Just dying. So wonderful.

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  • Anna

    Oh, this is so good!!! I’m in a similar situation, closing in on my wedding day to a wonderful man with two pre-teen sons, and will definitely be using your tips in writing our ceremony. Hooray for you and your beautiful blended family, and thanks for sharing your story.

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  • z

    I dunno, sometimes these elaborate “blended family” invented rituals just don’t ring true. My parents made me and my now-ex-stepsiblings participate in their subsequent weddings and I always felt like I was on display to prove how very, very happy we all were. So resilient! The kids are thrilled, all they want is for their parents to be happy! Nothing to see here! When I see this kind of thing I always wonder. Sorry to rain on the parade, I guess, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that weddings aren’t always happy for everyone.

    • Jess

      I think it’s super important to think about how true this feels for your family before doing. Performative love always rubs me really wrong.

      On the other hand, idkmybffjill’s comment below shows that when this stuff *is* true, it can be really meaningful.

      • z

        I would love to see a post on how to plan a wedding (and a marriage) that your minor children don’t support. Any takers? Because it happens.

    • MTM

      Agreed. So many people tried to push this on us and I really just don’t feel it. Having kids take part in a “we do” when maybe that wasn’t their choice or what they wanted or they aren’t even at an age to understand what that really means.

  • Love this! The fact that you really worked to make this about family and not just about the marriage of two people makes it so special.

  • Mainer

    I was recently married in a blended-family affair. By contrast, my step kids are all tweens and teens (I have 3!). This was also my first marriage, and my husband’s second. I found that by being blended, it made it easier for us to do away with wedding “traditions” that really didn’t suit us to begin with. We each stood with our immediate family members rather than a wedding party. (My parents, brother and sister in law for me, and his sister, brother in law and kids for him.) We also framed this as a coming-together of families ceremony, but we kept our vows for just us. I felt like it was important to talk to the kids before the big day and ceremony, but not directly in it. My therapist had reminded me that they might actually be feeling kind of sad at the wedding. Lots of people harbor feelings of hope that their parents will get back together, sometimes even well into adulthood, and those feelings are real and need to be expected and respected.

    Like the author, we rallied the kids to help us big time. Only, since they are older, it was more: arrange these flowers! make a fire in the fireplace! help me move these tables! Drive the garbage back to the house! We found out after the weekend that the kids had got together before the big weekend and made a pact to do everything they could to let us focus on each other, and to not have to parent or look out for them. Our daughter even apologized a week later that she felt she hadn’t been able to give that gift to us as well as she had planned. She said, I guess I’m just still kind of a kid! We were incredibly touched at their thoughtfulness.

    I suppose what I also really want to mention here to other blended families about to get married is that it’s a delicate balance incorporating the kids on your big day. I love that the author recommended using aunts, godparents, and friends to help watch or just direct the kids for the day. We also made sure that they had somewhere to go after the wedding so that we could scoot away for 3 days and decompress!

    I will share that we were unsuccessful in getting our family and friends to help us get our kids to their busses, trains and rides back home. We were really bummed at the time. But in the end, it meant that my husband and I did what we always do: we split up the work, drove all over the state, and ended the day after our wedding at home, with chinese takeout, watching a movie with our daughter. It was us just being us. And it was really bliss.

    So figure out what works for you, and like another writer commented, it’s ok if it’s not a unity candle love fest, but rather a mixture of difficult and competing emotions that signify that you’re all just real people, making a really big commitment and change.

    (no disrespect to unity candles. I love them and wish it had been in our wheelhouse to make it happen. But, teenagers.)

    • z

      It’s not necessarily about hoping that parents will get back together. I think it’s a straw man to imply that kids are clinging to some unrealistic fantasy, when actually they may have very well-founded reasons for their feelings. Sometimes the kids just don’t like the new person or the new arrangement, or resent that their “new normal” is being yet again disrupted by adult romantic relationships.

      I loathed my parents’ subsequent weddings because my mom was “marrying” the guy she cheated on my dad with. It actually was a “commitment ceremony” because he was not yet divorced from his actual wife. Ugh! I didn’t attend their actual wedding, and they’re divorced now, so no regrets about that. My dad’s weddings were embarrassing because there is only so many times you can tell a new woman “to death do us part” and expect your teenagers not to roll their eyes.

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