Families who aren’t supportive have been covered on APW before, I know. But I have kind of a different twist on the problem. Both of our mothers have had significant issues coming to terms with the fact that their daughters are getting married to women. Early on in the wedding process we decided that we would be excited if our moms could get in the right mental space to even be at the wedding, and we would deal with it if they couldn’t.
But now, a couple of months out from the wedding, we find ourselves with an amazing problem—two moms, completely on-board and excited about the wedding they never dreamed for their daughters! (And we absolutely realize and appreciate how lucky we are to be in the position.) We have already set up the ceremony to replace all of the usual parent of the bride functions, and our grandparents and brothers, etc. are excited about those roles (e.g., walking us down the aisle). But we want to appreciate our mothers and all the work they’ve done to be able to be there to support us, and we don’t want them to feel sad for not being included.
Any suggestions for ways to incorporate parents during the ceremony itself? We want to honor and celebrate where everyone is today because, in the end, it’s all about the journey that gets you there and propels you forward, right?
More Support Than We Know What to Do With (a happy problem)
Happy problem is right! And, it seems in your case, an unexpected one.
Many people find themselves in the lucky situation of having more people to honor than they have traditional roles to fill. That’s one of the best parts of thinking outside the box for a wedding—you get to honor as many people as you want. It’s what a wedding ceremony boils down to, after all. Sure, you have the whole “getting married” bit—I guess that’s sort of important. But, if you choose to, you get to pay a bit of homage to the people who love and support you in your relationship. It’s not a matter of having a specific checklist of roles to fill. It’s the opportunity to say, “Who do we want to involve and how can we do it?”
Here are just a few ideas:
Programs. Some people skip on handing out ceremony programs, but if you’re having them (I, for one, will take any opportunity to have another pretty piece of paper), they’re a really nice place to honor loved ones. You can say something simple like, “Mary and Jane want to take a moment to thank their moms for their love and support,” or get more poetic. If these ladies are anything like my mom, you’ll find that sucker in a frame above the mantle.
Talents. Do your parents have special talents that might be nice to share? Singing, playing an instrument, or writing a piece of poetry are all great ways to include someone in the ceremony. Unlike some of the other suggestions, this one is tricky. You want to be sure that the person you ask feels included and honored, not obligated to perform as an unpaid sideshow. Usually, though, people are eager to express themselves through their talents. For a mom at her daughter’s wedding? There’s a whole lot to express.
Reading. Special readings offer so many options—just some of which were discussed here, here and here. Your moms could each read a separate piece individually, or demonstrate the unifying of two families by reading together. You could choose something sentimental and reminiscent from your childhood (maybe an excerpt from a picture book your mom read when you were young). Or, you could find a poem, quotation or song lyric that represents your relation to your mom. Or, you could ask your mom to choose something that is significant to her. See what I mean about “options”? A less common (but equally valid) approach is to ask your parents to do a Charge to the Couple—basically a small speech on the weight and importance of marriage that’s given before the officiating of vows. This involves them, honors them, and gives them an integral piece of the ceremony to make their own by passing on what they’ve learned about marriage. (Meg points out that an option that’s similar, and less Christian in origin, Blessing of the Couple by the parents, where they express their hopes and dreams for you. Either of these could be modified beautifully for a non-religious ceremony, as well.)
Carrying stuff. It sounds like a minor job (especially when you immediately conjure images of a six-year-old boy carrying a pillow), but carrying things is a big deal during a ceremony. You can ask your parents to carry something secondary (flowers or candles to adorn the space) or something integral to the ceremony itself (the rings, a book of prayer, a ritual object). There’s something subtly symbolic about having loved ones bring together the pieces that make up the wedding day.
Standing there. If your moms aren’t terribly interested in doing much more than blubbering into a tissue, standing beside you as you say your vows can be very meaningful. This makes them more than an audience at the ceremony and can serve as a direct visual representation of their support as they stand beside you.
Ask them! When it comes down to it, the best way to figure out how to make someone feel important is to ask them what role they’d like. An honest conversation with your mom along the lines of, “I’m really grateful that you’re so supportive, and I want you to be involved in the ceremony. Is there anything you want to do?” might bring out some obvious answers that you won’t find here. Maybe Mom will blurt out a deep desire to stand at the altar or serenade you or carry the rings. Maybe she’ll need some ideas. The important part is that you’ll have honored your relationship and her growing support.
Team Practical! What other ideas do you have for incorporating loved ones into a ceremony? How did you honor your family and friends?
Photo by Lauren McGlynn Photography.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com or use the submission form here. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). However, don’t let thinking up a sign-off stress you out; we’ll love you regardless. You’re already writing in for advice, don’t you have enough to deal with, sweetie?