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Uniting a family, not just a couple

Remember the old ‘kissing song’, “first comes loves, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage”? Well, it’s old for a reason. Times have changed over the past few generations and more people are having children before marriage or marrying others that have their own children. Either way, it means that the wedding becomes about joining a family, not just a couple. And there are so many beautiful ways that they can be incorporated into a wedding that will unite a family for years to come. Of course, it can depend on their age what you are able to do, but there is always a way to bring them into the ceremony.

The bridal party. No matter their age, a child can be a part of the wedding party walking down the aisle in some form or fashion. An adult child can walk a mother down to ‘give her away’, while younger children can be bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearers. I’ve yet to see wedding guests refrain from saying ‘awe’ when a toddler comes trouncing down the aisle. Be sure to include them in events that involve the bridal party, including the tradition of gift giving.

The vows. One of the most moving ceremonies I have had the honor of witnessing was when the bride had an eight year old girl from a previous marriage. After their vows to each other, the groom brought over the little girl, got down on one knee and made a vow to her. He vowed to show her how a woman should be treated by a man in his treatment of her mother, and he vowed to love her as his own. There was more than this, but the long and short of it was that everyone was in tears. It was a truly special moment. If there are multiple children, the simplified version would be to include them in the “I do’s”, bride and groom say “I do” while the children have their own vow to “we do” to.

Unity Ceremonies. There are many rituals that become a part of unifying the couple during a wedding ceremony, and several of them are adaptable to include your children. The most common ceremonies are the sand ceremony and a unity candle. In a sand ceremony, children can pick out their own color of sand and pour them into the chosen vessel along with the bride and groom to demonstrate the ‘blending’ of the family. With a unity candle, all members of the family join together to light one unified candle.

Dances. Who says the mother/son and father/daughter dance has to be for the older generation? The bride can dance with a son and the groom with a daughter to still fit under that category. If they are old enough to cooperate, it will give them a chance to be center of attention, feel special and appreciated and will give you some amazing memories to cherish.

And finally, a little fun addition if you are having a reception, hand out some disposable cameras to kids (and other guests for that matter). My dad did this during his second marriage to my step-mom. There were disposable cameras on every camera. The pictures from the kid’s perspective gave such a fun point of view of the wedding day and afterwards we compiled them into collages that graced the hallways of our home for years to come.