Marriage creates families. If there are children involved, this family most certainly extends beyond the happy couple. As wedding officiants specializing in custom ceremonies, we’ve received many requests to incorporate children into the big day. Since so many people bring children into marriages, we anticipate this trend will become a weddings mainstay.
The marriage ceremony serves as a public testimony of the couple’s commitment. So too, the couple publicly affirming support for the children coming into the marriage has significant symbolic value. It shows the importance of the children to the couple and the community and serves as a point of reference for the children and the parents regarding their role in each other’s lives.
Here are some creative ideas on how to include children:
• Have the Children in the Wedding Party
Besides “ring bearer” or “flower girl,” there are other roles children can fill. In one of our weddings, the bride and groom had their 2-year-old son serve as best man. As he grows up, the fact he was his dad’s “best man” will surely help solidify that he is part of his parents’ marriage.
• Vows to the Children
Some of our couples have chosen to say vows of love, support and commitment to their children. In one case, the vows were planned ahead of time and practiced by all parties at the rehearsal. In another case, the soon-to-be stepparent incorporated the vows as a surprise. Because of the stepparent’s pre-existing positive relationship with the children, this worked out beautifully.
• Incorporating Kids Into the Unity Ceremony
The sand ceremony and unity candle ceremony are perfect for incorporating children. Simply add additional candles or extra bottles of differently colored sand. For example, one of our couples loved camouflage, so they and their son each had a jar with a different shade of green sand. Since this is a growing trend, you can even buy sand kits or unity candles with the additional pieces. Most other unity ceremonies can also be adapted to include children as well.
Kimberly and Aaron Revia had their children and grandchildren sign a special anchor plaque at their May nuptials.
• Creating Your Own Family Ceremony
One of our couples had 11 children coming into the marriage, ranging in ages from 7 to 26. The groom worked offshore and this inspired the couple to adopt the anchor as the symbol for their family. We created an “anchor ceremony” for them, with the anchor representing love and family. During the ceremony, the children came forward and signed their names on a plaque with a picture of an anchor. The children and the couple then all held hands, with each clasp representing a link in a chain back to the anchor. We then prayed that love and family always anchor their lives.
Keep in mind:
• Vows To, not From, the Kids
While it’s great for the couple to make a vow to the kids, we advise against asking the kids to make vows to the parents. It’s the adults’ decision to get married, not the children’s. Thus, children should not be obligated to make vows. Plus, this could create an awkward situation if a child does not want to make a vow.
• It’s Not for Every Family
Including children in the ceremony is not the best decision for every family. That’s OK. If you’re unsure what your kids will think about including them, just ask.
We hope you find these ideas helpful in making your already special day extra-special for your new blended family.
Swanson Ceremonies is a husband/wife team who are both Acadiana wedding officiants. They specialize in creating custom wedding ceremonies. Find out more at swansonceremonies.com.