Wedding Planning for Stepfamilies

Whenever someone asks about my wedding day, they are usually shocked and ask, “Really? Why did you do that?” Or “What?! How long were you dating?” I get these responses after I mention that I was engaged for 2 ½ weeks before getting married. Let me back up a moment and explain. My husband and I went on a romantic motorcycle ride on Valentine’s Day 2014 to watch the sunset.


When we reached the top, he took me by complete surprise and proposed to me.  At the time, we were also training for a half marathon at the beginning of March that year.  So we would go on long training runs and spend the whole time talking. One day, we had a 10-mile training run and that’s how we ended up planning our wedding! During this run, we decided to have a small wedding and get married while my parents were visiting in a couple of weeks for several reasons.

  1. Both of our families live in different states, so everyone would have had to fly into Phoenix.
  2. Summer in Phoenix was coming up and making everyone come to Phoenix during the inferno known as summer would have been cruel.
  3. I had never wanted a big wedding. I always dreamed of a smaller, meaningful ceremony with family and close friends. My husband was completely on board with this!
  4. The thought of planning a wedding for months or years did not appeal to me at all.
  5. We were ready to begin our new life together.

Planning a wedding in such a short time is not for the faint of heart, but it worked for us! We ended up running our half marathon on a Saturday, going to a Nascar race with my parents on Sunday, and then tying the knot on a Tuesday night at sunset in the same place we had met, Papago Park, an urban mountain in the heart of Phoenix.


Somehow, I managed to pick out a wedding dress and have it altered three times before the wedding.  My stepdaughter was the ring bearer and she got to hand out bubbles at the end.


My dad got to walk me down the “aisle” which was actually part of a hiking trail.

And a bunch of hikers got to see a small wedding party walking along the trail to a ramada for the ceremony.


While certainly unconventional, our wedding was uniquely “ours” and neither one of us would have changed a thing about that day.  My point in sharing the story of our wedding day is to tell you that it’s okay to do whatever you and your husband decide on that day. With stepfamilies, so many questions, doubts, and stressors can come up in planning your wedding day. Where should we have the wedding? Should the stepchildren be part of the wedding day? How involved should the stepchildren be in the planning part of the wedding? What about the honeymoon? Will the other parent be able to keep the stepchildren while we go on a honeymoon? You and your partner will have to decide what’s best for your family because everyone’s situation is so different.


Make sure that first you and partner have open communication about the big day and make those decisions as a couple. Then you can bring your stepchildren into the mix. Want to have Bundt cakes instead of a wedding cake? Do it! Want to keep it small and not invite extended family? Sure. Why not? Need to have your honeymoon later due to parenting schedules? That’s fine! Just remember to make your decisions together and make the day yours as a couple. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to please everyone on this day or trying to satisfy other people’s expectations of your big day. Just remember this day is you and your partner’s day. It is an important celebration of your love and sets the tone for the beginning of your marriage journey. This is the day that you’ll celebrate each year and the day that you’ll talk about for years to come. Make it yours.


Want to share your wedding story? Have a piece of advice for wedding planning? Share in the comments!