Stepdaughter at Wedding

Updated on October 06, 2010
J.G. asks from Weston, MA
13 answers

I have been with my now fiance for 1.5 years. During the year and a half we have been together I supported him during a custody battle for his now 2.5 year old daughter. He unfortunately lost and she moved to another state. We only get to see her allotted weeks throughout the year. It has been heartbreaking and stressful. I have been as supportive as possible, taking a backseat many of times as I knew how necessary and important it was to do so. We have recently decided to get married, and are planning to do so in the upcoming months. A recent visit of his daughter has raised questions of her capability to be at the wedding. This past time visiting she has been extremely clingy to my fiance and has wanted nothing to do with myself or her grandparents and aunts. My heart breaks for her as I understand this is confusing for her and foreign. Being a product of a divorced family with a parent who married early, I completely understand and do not blame her. I am preparing that this will not change anytime soon. But my concerns lie with the wedding. I do not want to be selfish, but I do not know how my fiance and I can enjoy the day and the celebration of us if my fiance cannot even go to the bathroom without her crying and pounding on the door. She at this point will not even allow anyone else to take her out of the car seat without screaming and crying. I do not think she would tolerate staying with her grandparents at the ceremony or reception, therefore I am at a loss of what to do. I would love to have her there, but not if it is going to make it so that my fiance and I cannot enjoy our day together.

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answers from Washington DC on

We didn't have my ss at the wedding. He was 3 1/2. We also didn't have any children under the age of 12. My ss is 20 and has never mentioned it.

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answers from Boston on

The decision should be his to make. My son and step-daughter were both 5 when my husband and I got married and having them both there was a non-negotiable for both of us, but see how strongly your fiance feels about it. Unless you're getting married very quickly, a lot can change with her between now and the wedding. Her clinginess sounds perfectly normal for her age and may be something that she outgrows in a few months so it may not even be an issue when you do get married.

At our wedding, we had no qualms about my step-daughter's behavior because she was very mature for her age but it was totally possible that my son would have had a total meltdown that day. As luck would have it, he developed a raging ear infection the day before the wedding and was feeling lousy during the ceremony and reception so I was very much in mommy mode all day. That my husband handled that graciously was one of the biggest gifts he could have given me. Do that for your fiance - if he really wants her there and it turns out that she's having a tough day, take it in stride.

Have you considered inviting her mother to the wedding? If there is a decent relationship between your fiancee and his ex, that may solve the problem completely. That way, she can be there but will be her mom's responsibility. If that's not possible, is there someone else who is part of her everyday life (a baby-sitter or daycare teacher, a relative on her mom's side) who could attend and be in charge of her for a day? If they live out of state and would have to stay over you'd have to pay for their accommodations but it might be worth it.

Finally, yes of course she is too young to remember being there or not, but do consider the issue of photos. If you are going for a traditional wedding and will have a photographer, one thing that she may notice when she's older is that she is NOT part of that important day. If she's there, she'll get to look over your photos as she gets older and see that she was truly part of your family from the beginning. Our oldest kids are now 12 and they love looking at our wedding pictures and seeing themselves in their tux and flower girl dress and the family photos we got that day are the best that we have. The kids were part of the ceremony (we all lit a unity candle together and they stood with us for a final blessing) and they like those pictures too - it really was "our" wedding and not just between my husband and me. Good luck and congrats!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Oh boy--are you NOT ready to marry a man with a child! Sorry--just my opinion from your post.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Okay, this may not be possible...but it was my first thought. Is your fiance cordial with his ex? If so maybe he could convince her to come with their daughter to be at your wedding. That way she and you would have the best of both worlds. She could have her mom to cling to but be able to be in pics and enjoy the party. Of cousre this would only work if they have a great relationship or even a mediocre one, and based on the fact that she took their child and moved away, I realize it's unlikely, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Maybe you guys could bargain with her and offer to split her hotel room and pay for the daughter's airfare?

I think ultimately it has to be up your fiance, as unfair as it sounds. He has to decide if he really wants her there or can be okay without her. I'm sorry you're in such a tough place, especially while planning such a happy day. I hope it works out for you!



answers from Davenport on

I have to agree with the other post. It is really your fiance's choice if he wants her there or not. I do not think it would be selfish for either of you if she is not there. If you both decide to have her there, make sure to have someone you trust ready and willing to take a screaming child away from the ceremony.



answers from Las Vegas on

Compromise. I hate to put myself in the situation, but that is what I would want any woman to do if it were my daughter.

If she screams and cries, someone can walk her out. Of course, the decision is up to your husband and then there has to be someone willing to deal with her if she becomes upset especially during ceremony.



answers from Detroit on

I don't think it would be selfish to not have her there if you look at it from the standpoint that it might be better for HER not to be there and feel totally overwhelmed. What does your fiance think?



answers from Topeka on

It is pretty typical for a child this age to gravitate to one grandson who will be 3 in Dec will not let anyone but his Mom take him out of his car seat...cut his meat....wash his get the picture!! This is a decision that you and your fiance need to make TOGETHER...the two of you know how she acts...and how likely she is to have a melt down if things don't go her way.
I would think that it might be one thing to have her at the reception for a while...but I would really hesitate about having her at the don't want anyone...not even his daughter...making a scene at the wedding ceremony itself.
Talk it over with your fiance and his parents....because THEY are the ones that are probably going to have to be taking care of her while you are cutting the cake, dancing the first dance, listening to the toasts, etc etc etc.
I would work on getting her to feel comfortable with grandparents, aunts, etc between now and the that she might be a little more cooperative!!!
Good luck and congratulations!!!


answers from Boston on

I'm a stepmom of 2, but they were older when we married. I completely understand about taking a back seat. I would agree with several points already made - she's very young and won't remember it anyway, it's up to your fiance, it might be wise to wait a little if possible (depending on how often you see his daughter and how likely it is that she can develop relationships with others in the family). That said, there's no point in ruining the day. I would add that it doesn't sound like she's too attached to the grandparents anyway, and why ruin THEIR day with child care when they want to enjoy the wedding of their son too?

You might consider taking pictures of her with you in your wedding clothes, either before or after the ceremony (even weeks later), just so she can see them when she gets older and know that you thought of her on that day.

You are going to have many, many visits that are difficult - she's going to have issues with her father going to sleep in another room, being in the back seat (car seat) with you up front, and much more. You two should maybe get some counseling to help you work on strategies for blending a family when it didn't start out well in terms of amicability between him and his ex.



answers from Minneapolis on

This brings back memories. I lived with the man I eventually married from the time his daughter was 1 1/2. She screamed and cried if I came close to her, tried to feed her, change her, touched her father, etc., etc. She would hit and kick at me every chance she got. I couldn't do anything! This went on for about a year. All of a sudden one day she looked up at me, raised her arms for me to pick her up, and it was over. We are still very close (she's 25 now :-)

I completely understand your concern as to how she would act at a wedding. We ended up waiting until our daughter was 4.5 to have a wedding. Can you give the planning of this wedding some more time? It might be helpful to all involved to take this slowly. A wedding is only one day, you need to be sure you are able to stepparent this child for many years.

Otherwise, I agree that she shouldn't be there. Also, at 2.5 she likely won't remember having been there, as most of us don't retain any memories at all until we are 3 to 3.5 years old.



answers from Philadelphia on

Wow. thats a tough one. The only thing I can tell you once you become a parent ..the needs of the child comes first. This poor little girl is going thru a lot. If she is only comfortable with her dad then that probably won't change anytime soon.
It sounds rather complicated.



answers from Tulsa on

She is too young to attend the wedding. She is not mature enough. You and your husband will want to be doing things like cutting the cake, saying vows, exchanging rings, having a aromatic first dance, etc...not listen to a screaming child. If she were much older and able to follow rules then she would be old enough to attend. Even if you have a babysitter for her and have her at the ceremony you will still have the same issues, she'll have to be taken out and you'll still be able to hear her crying. Why put yourselves through that? It's your special day, take it and enjoy it.



answers from Chicago on

The child seems a bit young to be at the wedding, all the other issues aside.... I do not take my 3 1/2 y/o to functions that require proper behavior or us being dressed up (the last thing I want is something sticky in my face, gown or my H's suit! and not be able to put food in my mouth because my hands are full with the kid, and shusshing the kid when someone gives a toast, and so on and so forth...).
The other thing, she will not remember anything anyway if she even goes to the wedding...that is why I do not see the point of taking her...except...
From your post I did not understood very clearly if your fiance was insisting on his daughter being at the wedding? If that is what he adamantly wants...he needs to be prepaired to say his wows with the kid strapped to his chest and to dance with you while she screams her head off...Not a pretty picture!
My point is - she is too young! My friends had recently their vows renewed and they have a 2 y/o. They had a sitter there (that child knows already) and she took care of the child the whole time and left with the kid to play somewhere and then took him home for a nap as soon as he was showing the sighns of not being able to tolerate the ceremony. And they did a lot of pictures right at the beginning so they have a group foto of the whole family. And let me tell you - he barely lasted through the pictures!
Dad cannot be a caregiver at his wedding!
Hope that helps.

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