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Walking Down the Aisle as a Modern Family

  • Gil and Brenda Stuart Authors, Restored & Remarried
  • Published Aug 10, 2011
Walking Down the Aisle as a Modern Family

Are you the parent of the bride/groom, parent-in-law of the bride/groom, step parent of the bride/groom or step parent-in-law of the bride/groom?

Boy, I am confused just having to list a few options of the relationships involved with a wedding in our society now-a-days!

Spring is in the air and summer is around the corner.  New life is sprouting up everywhere.  And some relationships are being tested to the max. Which ones are those you may ask? The families that are engaged and waiting for the "big day." Throw some stepfamily dynamics in the mix and things will get lively!

It's amazing how some brides can be so caught up in the wedding and haven't given their marriage a second thought. My prayer for you, (if you are the mother of the bride, mother-in-law of the bride, step mother of the bride or step mother-in-law of the bride) is that you are able to show grace and love -- even if you're dealing with a bridesilla!

Weddings should be a joyous time for our families. As part of a stepfamily, these events can bring up a lot of feelings that we have thought we had taken care of and buried. Here is an excerpt from our book, Restored and Remarried, addressing our wedding experiences, so far. With seven kids between us, we hope we will be pro's at this by the seventh wedding!

When your children get married, you enter yet another season.  Now, some of you have may have already stepped into this time of life, and for others it may be many years away. My (Brenda) oldest son got married last summer. I knew this was going to be new territory for all of us; in a lot of ways.

The details of the wedding came together quite nicely.  I can say that with confidence because being the mother of the groom I didn't have to do a lot!  My soon-to-be daughter-in-law knew that this was more about the marriage than the wedding. Bravo Laurie!  No bridesilla here.

Months ahead, I knew I needed to prepare myself emotionally. This was going to be very bittersweet. I was thrilled that my son was getting married. Yet I had always dreamed of my ex and I sitting in the front row, together.  I had never thought we'd be sitting at different ends of the row with various people between us. Then complicated thoughts of who would be in what pictures went through my mind.  There weren't a lot of clean lines of relationships.  It was hard on my son too, trying to accommodate everyone.

From the very beginning of the preparation for the wedding, and the wedding itself, I kept in the forefront of my mind "it's all about the kids." Because I stood on that hill from the very beginning, I'm hoping I made it easier for my son.  It was a lovely day.  Everyone made it through without any big "faux pas." But, here are a few thoughts I know I will keep in mind for the next wedding:

1.  As much as you can prepare emotionally, be ready for some Sneaker Waves (unexpected emotions that can come out of nowhere).  There may be some tsunamis too. My Sneaker Wave that I wasn't prepared for was seeing all these different people from various times in my life. There were good memories, and it was cool that they came to support my son.  But what a barrage of emotions seeing people from "my old life" and people from "my new life" in the same room!

2.  If there are still some Bare Wires (emotional connections to the past) from the ex that are found easily, watch where everyone is seated at the reception. Stay on your best behavior no matter what!

3.  Are there new spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends, or partners involved? Be cordial and nice no  -- matter what!

4.  What to wear? Ladies, you might be put at ease if the moms (step/bio/future in-law) know what each other is wearing ahead of time. As the stepmom I would tend to stay in the background unless otherwise asked.

Bottom line: It's not about you!  It's about your child.  Your children's weddings should be one of the happiest days of their lives. Remember, you are the adult.  You may have to "suck it up" for a little while, but aren't your kids worth it? They will appreciate it in the end.

My (Gil) oldest son got married 2 months after Brenda and me. Although Brenda wasn't invited to the wedding, we both agreed I needed to be there.  As the Father of the Groom and Stepfather of the Groom (at my new son's wedding), I took a posture of serving my "son" any way I could.  They were excited and stressed at the same time.  I felt like a guest and a member of the family simultaneously.  I chose to keep things light-hearted. I encouraged them privately, with a special memory about them and there was laughter. 

Reflections of that day with concerns of their own family being splintered can be overcome by a father/stepfather who remains steady.  Anticipate a moment where a reassuring word will need to calm innuendos of their family's great train wreck (the divorce).

Remember, as the parents, and husband and wife to each other, watch each other's back during these family events. Support one another and don't underestimate the conflicting feelings that you may experience. The marriage you have now should be an inspiration to your kids and the legacy you will leave.

Originally posted May 25, 2010

Gil and Brenda live in Vancouver, Washington. They have 7 children between them, ages 18-29. Gil graduated from Bethany Bible College; he currently is an insurance broker and active in the community with marriage and family issues. Brenda was on staff as Children's Pastor of their church and now works with a youth development organization and is involved with marriage and family initiatives.

Gil and Brenda deliver a fresh style of encouragement to this ever-growing population in society— the blended family. Willing to speak the obvious from their own step family adventure, the Stuarts share heart to heart as they walk the walk. Their book, Restored and Remarried was recently released along with their 8 week workbook. Gil and Brenda are available for seminars, workshops and retreats. Find them at