Photo: Gia Canali
What do you do when both the bride and the groom have grown up with a strong sense of family and a whole lot of siblings? Integrating two big families when you get married can be a challenge, and it's better if you start the process before you actually tie the knot.
If everybody's all spread out all over the country and ages vary dramatically, it can be more difficult. But if you can get all your brothers and sisters (and even your super-close cousins) together in a social environment, it's a great chance to start building bridges and relationships.
Do this at something other than your engagement party where you're going to be super-busy entertaining all your guests. If everyone is coming to town for that affair and you won't have another chance where everybody is together, plan a separate "kids-only" event where you do something special together as a unit in an environment where you can actually talk and get to know one another.
If all of your siblings will be included in the wedding party, that gives you another opportunity to bond with your new brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. It doesn't have to be something fancy — bowling, bar hopping, or a game night might do the trick. The key is to do it without anybody's parents around to throw off the vibe. If you're inheriting in-law siblings who are already married to your fianceacute;'s siblings, try to include them in the get-togethers, although there is certainly no obligation to put them in your wedding party.
Not everybody has to like everybody, but it would be nice if everyone got along. A wedding is the first step towards many, many years of coordinating where you're going to be for which holiday, and which family's turn it is to claim you and your future children. Building relationships with your new siblings-in-law early can mean it doesn't matter whose year it is because all of you like each other so much, it's always a "the more the merrier" invitation for holidays.
It's important to remember that the children of your fianceacute;'s siblings will be your own children's cousins. Even if you're not wild about somebody, you have an obligation to your future family to make an effort to build a strong bond from the beginning. You want your kids to have the opportunity for closeness and relationships with their cousins when they're growing up. If you start out on the wrong foot, there can be an unintended trickle-down effect that hurts the next generation of the family.
Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.