If the parents of the bride or groom are divorced, a few accommodations are helpful. It is good to meet with them early on and discuss their needs and concerns so that they can be addressed – do they need to be seated far apart? Will they both walk the bride or groom down the aisle or is it better to have mothers walk the bride and fathers the groom so as not to create discomfort? What will the role of stepparents and stepchildren be? How will the invitation read – often parents names are listed separately – instead of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, or Joan and David Smith, it reads Joan Smith and David Smith.
In the case of intermarriage or conversion, there will often be non-Jewish family at the wedding who may never have been to a Jewish wedding and who may be uncomfortable with their child’s chosen religion. Talk to them early and often, tell them what to expect, reassure them of your love, and create opportunities for them to participate. Many couples create wedding booklets describing the details of their wedding for all guests. Assuming a clear choice has been made about the religion of the bride and groom, it is perfectly appropriate to incorporate elements from the couple’s culture of origin – a garment, a song, perhaps even a prayer.
If the bride or groom has children from a previous marriage, wedding issues can become more complex. Again, talk to your children, reassure them of your love for them and their primacy in your life, anticipate their concerns about the ceremony and tell them in advance what will happen, and find a role for them. In a remarriage with children, it is not only a new couple that is being created; it is a new family. This will happen in fits and starts but its success will mean everything to the success of your marriage.