I recently received the following question from a Mother of the Bride:
“Jewish bride and Christian groom, do not want any religious customs in their wedding vows. We – parents – will walk bride down the aisle, groom’s parents will not be walking him down aisle. There will not be a chuppah, but bride’s parents want to stand next to bride and groom. Groom’s parents will be seated during the ceremony. What would be a good compromise if groom’s parents do not want to stand near the couple during the ceremony?”
In general, I always tell my couples that their ceremony will be everything that they want, and nothing that they don’t. And that goes for everyone involved in the ceremony, including the parents.
So if the bride and groom’s parents hold differing opinions about what they want to do, that’s fine. However I suggest that everyone, including the parents, is in communication about what the other intends to do.
In the above example, if the groom’s parents don’t want to stand, that’s fine. If they don’t want the bride’s parents to stand, then there may be an issue. In either case, I suggest that both sides let the other know that they are making choices for specific reasons, and that the other party doesn’t necessarily have to agree to it. (It could be a great example to tell the soon-to-be-married couple how to agree to disagree).
Now if one set of parents are looking to have more presence in the ceremony, to balance out what the other set is doing, there are a number of possibilities – it’s all a matter of their comfort level.
During the ceremony, parents can do readings or provide a blessing, if they are comfortable with public speaking. They can partake in a Wine Box Ceremony (which, in an interfaith ceremony, works great before a Kiddush). If either of them or musically inclined, perhaps they can perform an interlude. If either of them crafty, perhaps they can design a wine box, article of clothing, or something to be present during the ceremony. Perhaps the bride could even have a “something old/new/borrowed or blue” from the groom’s parents with her.
Outside of the ceremony, they can sign the marriage license. If there are any cultural or family traditions that are typically done, either outside or during the ceremony, that can be honored. If there is a rehearsal dinner, perhaps that would be a great moment for the couple to give them some particular acknowledgment.
There’s a few things that could involve them that would involve both parents. Parents can be honored with a Rose Ceremony. If there is a Unity Candle Ceremony they can participate by lighting the bride and groom’s tapers. In a Sand Ceremony the parents can pour the first layers of sand to represent the “foundation” of the couple’s new family.
If you’re looking for some ideas on balancing out the parents in your ceremony, I hope this gives you some ideas of what you are looking for, or can spark an idea for something new!