Although you may think family blending starts when you begin planning your wedding and ends with the reception, it doesn’t have to start or stop there! You can start blending both families and their values before you’re even married! One great way to do this is by having them share their own traditions so that you can carry on your favorites with your own family. Make note cards available at your engagement party or bridal shower so your families can write down time-tested recipes, marriage advice, house tips, or general bits of inspiration (or all of them!).
Pre Wedding Events
Getting everyone relaxed and comfortable with people they may have just met can be quite the challenge. Try getting everyone to hang out by planning low-key group activities. A golf day, family bowling tournament, spa day, or grabbing a bite to eat together are great ice breaker activities, especially if it involves a shared interest. Do both families have an interest in beer or wine? Set up a tasting!
Those outings are relatively easy to pull off for families close by, but are not doable for everyone. If you have many out of town guests, it only makes sense to hold a “weekend wedding”! A weekend wedding is a family & friends fun weekend before your ceremony where you host events – plan a field day and pair up people from opposite sides of the family, cozy up by a bonfire, or plan tourist trips nearby (what a great opportunity to share your home with out-of-towners)! The idea is to get everyone to spend time together, building relationships as part of your wedding celebration!
During the Ceremony
To show your families that they’re all truly loved, don’t host separate seating for each family at the ceremony. Instead, let everyone sit where they want because they’re all family now and both sides of the aisle show equal support for their loved ones! You could even take it a step further and lose the sides altogether. If your venue allows for it, arrange the chairs around the vow site. You’ll be literally surrounded by the people you love!
Before you know it your wedding is over and it’s time to make your fabulous debut as a married couple! A fun way to get your families up and mingling is by doing a scavenger hunt during the cocktail hour. You can put a note on each table with people, objects, and actions they need to get pictures of (either with a disposable camera or on Instagram with personalized hashtags).
During the Reception
Struggling with centerpiece ideas? Family heirlooms can be used as center pieces and photographs hung as decorations! Be sure to include a description by each heirloom and picture to share it’s significance. Not only will it be lovely to reminisce on those memories, but it will teach the other side of the family about the little things that contributed to the people you’ve become.
Time for the tear jerker! One of the most memorable wedding reception traditions is the bouquet toss, but if you want to spice it up a bit and make it more family oriented, you and your partner can gift the flowers to a couple that has inspired you or has been an exceptional role model. You and your partner saying a few words about what the recipient means to you won’t leave a dry eye in the house!
Family trees and fun family displays can be created beforehand to be displayed at the reception as a helpful tool for those who don’t know each other yet, or it can be created by your family and friends at the reception to be displayed in your home. If you choose the latter, you can have an illustration of a bare tree along with different colored inks. Each person can dip their finger in the ink and put their print on the tree where the leaves would go along with their name printed beside it. No hierarchy is needed (that could get way too complicated and cause a backup at the guest book)…
… after all, you’re all one big family!