Planning a wedding is stressful enough, but add a couple of divorced parents into the mix and you have a recipe for potential disaster. Your current dilemma? Figuring out a way to respectfully include your stepparents in the big day without stepping on the toes of mom and dad.
As New York-based wedding planner Viva Max Kaley, creator of Viva Max Weddings, points out, if your biological parents are uncomfortable with something, they'll act defensive, which can quickly put a negative spin on your day. To keep the peace and ensure everyone is on their absolute best behavior (if only for your sake), she suggests taking some time to think about what would make each parental figure feel confident and loved. "For example, maybe it's better to have a set of photos with your dad's girlfriend after the ceremony instead of beforehand when your mom is around?" Or if your stepdad would be delighted to have his own VIP cocktail, that's a subtle way you can honor him.
As far as the ceremony goes, you'll want to carefully consider seating and your processional order. "Everyone should be seated next to someone they love, and they should all be able to see you well," advises Kaley. If things get too messy, remember you can always have your fiancé walk you down the aisle. Otherwise, why not ask both dads to share or split the honor? It's a nice touch to at least label the ceremony chairs of stepparents who are left out with their names that way they still feel special. "Another idea would be for each parent to recite a reading during the ceremony as a way to bring everyone together."
In terms of pictures, Kaley says you absolutely have to give your photographer the 411 in advance about any special (A.K.A. potentially problematic) family dynamics so he or she is sensitive to who should be called what. After all, it would be super awkward if your photographer mistook your stepmom for your mom or vice versa. "While you may not be dying to have your dad's wife or mom's husband in all your formal photos, you should absolutely include each in a few with you and your fiancé."