When two people get married, it is not just they who are joined. Their respective families are united as well. If one or both of the newly weds have children before the marriage, the marriage ceremony can be an excellent way to unify the soon to be blended family into a loving, cohesive unit. Below, you will find several suggestions on how to include children in a wedding ceremony.
Let the children help plan the wedding.
In some ways, the planning stage of a wedding is the most important part. Letting the children be a member of the planning team allows both sides of the soon to be joined family work together on a common goal. For example, tasting wedding cake samples can be a fun bonding experience in which children’s lighting all ages can participate. The children can also help sample the food for the reception. Picking out the color scheme and decorations is another area where the children can help. Of course, the girls can also go along to pick out the wedding dress and get their hair done. The boys can go along to pick out the tuxedo/suit and get a hair cut and shave if old enough.
Make sure the preacher or secular officiant says each child’s name during the ceremony.
While the focus of traditional weddings are about uniting two people in marriage, many modern marriages involving the union of individuals who already have children are more about uniting the new blended family. One way to accomplish this is to have the wedding officiant say the children’s names during the ceremony. If the couple says their own vows, they too can state the name of the children and even make a public vow to them. For example, a soon to be stepparent could say that he or she vows to love, protect, spend time with, listen to, and cherish his or her new children. In many modern weddings, this can be one of the most tender moments of the ceremony.
Give a gift to the children symbolizing the new family unit.
Just as a couple exchanges rings, the children and parents can exchange gifts too or the parents can simply present gifts to the children as part of the ceremony. Popular gifts include rings, watches, and necklaces. In some ceremonies, the rings given to the children match the rings exchanged by the couple to symbolize the joining of the entire new family.
Involve the children in The Lighting of a Unity Candle ceremony.
Unity candles have two or more wicks. Each one is lit individually and then the separate flames become one. If there are children involved, there can be two wicks for the couple and then an additional wick for each child involved. Alternately, the couple can light a unity candle with two wicks and then each of the children can light their own candle from the fire of this united flame.
Have children serve official roles.
It is important that children know they are not just part of the ceremony but a very special important part. While a young girl can always be a flower girl and young boy can be a ring bearer, older children may feel left out if they are too old to play these important roles. It has become increasingly common for older girls and older boys to be “junior” bridesmaids or groomsmen. In fact, sometimes older children are made the maid of honor or the best man, giving them a very prestigious role to play in the wedding.
Incorporate a big group hug at the end.
In a traditional wedding, the officiant usually says, “You may kiss the… ” In lieu of this tradition, or perhaps immediately before or after it, you could have the officiant have all members of the new blended family have a big group hug.
Assign children a task at the wedding reception, too.
You can get the children involved in the wedding reception too. For example, some children love to take pictures and video. In fact, with today’s rapidly changing digital camera technology, children often know more about this than the adults. Even if you have hired a professional wedding photographer for the more formal shots, you can assign one of the children the fun task of taking the candid shots. This is also a task that can easily be shared with more than one child. Children could also pass out rice (or birdseed), act as ushers, or present wedding guests with a small gift.
While the act of blending a family comes with many complications, there are certainly ways to show each child how important they are within the family unit. By performing a function in the wedding, you are showing how valued they are and they will be able to see that they aren’t being left out of the decisions or celebrations. Most importantly, help each child feel loved each step of the way. For just as you fell in love with your future spouse, you can help each child by encouraging the need to learn to find a way to love their new, larger family.
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