In the weddings I perform, approximately half the couples have children from prior marriages, relationships or their own children together. Why not include your children in your wedding day? It is a wonderful way to start your new life together as a family.
In the past, including children was limited to having them serve as flower girls, ring bearers, or junior attendants. But with the advent of the non-traditional wedding, your options for including your children in your wedding are unlimited. Read on for ideas you will love.
Include Your Children in Your Wedding Day Planning
Older children can participate in DIY crafts, cake tasting, stamping envelopes and other chores you will be performing in advance of the wedding.
At one wedding where I officiated, the groom’s children created the guests’ place cards. They painstakingly wrote the names in crayon in varying shades of the wedding colors on the place cards. Grandparents and other special people had the added treat of a small picture drawn on their cards. The bride and groom took pictures of each card and preserved it for their wedding book. The children were very proud of their contribution to the wedding and enjoyed the praise showered on them by wedding guests.
(Tip: Be sure to purchase extra cards. They are inexpensive and allow children to start again, when they “mess up.”)
I asked the bride, Sara, about this unique idea and she said:
“I knew we were going to spend a lot of time creating our wedding. Brian and I wanted to make sure his (soon to be our) children felt included, and that there would be things they could do when they were staying with us during our planning. This seemed to be the perfect solution and turned out to be the hit of our wedding. We allowed the kids to pick the place cards they liked, and since they chose a tented style, we did not have to spend money on holders. Jason and Beth were so proud when guests asked them to sign their place cards to keep as a wedding memory.”
Include Your Children in Your Wedding Vows
Now, I am not talking about the children making vows. I understand that some couples do this, but most children are not in the position to make or keep vows of their own. Children who make vows often feel responsible for any issues that arise in the marriage. Make vows to each other and to the children but resist the temptation to have them vow to you or your new spouse.
But be sure to mention the children by name in your vows and your commitment to love them and treat them as your own.
If you prefer not to include children in the vows, ask the officiant to mention the children’s names several times in the context of the ceremony and the new family you are creating.
Family Ceremony For Including Your Children in Your Wedding
Including a small ceremony within your wedding to honor the beginning of a new family can be an exciting way to include children and recognize the new family you are creating.
You can use a traditional unity ceremony, such as the unity candle or sand ceremony expanded to include the children. For the sand ceremony, have each child select his/her personal color of sand so their individuality is also represented. Be prepared for some interesting color combinations, knowing the completed family work will truly represent everyone as individual.
Think outside of the box for things you can do as a family, for a unity ceremony for your family. Sparklers for a 4th of July , wedding, flowers placed in a vase during the ceremony – each of unique to the child’s personality, and Easter eggs placed in a family basket are just a few ideas that spring to mind.
You can think seasonally to compliment your wedding or about activities that are important to your family and create a simple ceremony with items that reflect that activity. If you need help email me, and I will be happy to help.
I created one of my favorite family unity ceremony for a couple who were including six children in their new life together. (2 of the bride’s, 3 of the groom’s and one child together.) The wedding was just before Thanksgiving and the children were all excited about the wedding and Christmas. (I am not really sure which one was the priority.)
In advance, the children shopped with grandparents for a Christmas ornament that was special to them. On the wedding day, we set up a small tree, decorated it with simple white lights and small ornaments in the wedding colors. When the time came in the ceremony, the children were invited to come forward and place their ornaments on the tree. The parents were so emotional as each child shared his/her ornament with them for the first time.
We had worked in advance to create a few words about each ornament and why it was selected, which I shared while each child placed his/her ornament on the tree. Then the bride and groom came forward and placed their ornaments as well as a solitary star on the top of the tree that represented the entire family. We created a tradition for this new family to share every year at Christmas time.
Include a family medallion ceremony where children receive a medallion to commemorate the wedding day.
Invite the children to come forward and gather round as you take your vows, then present each one with their own medallion representing the family you are forming today.
Bouquet Holder – A Unique Way to Include Your Children in Your Wedding
When Marcie’s step-daughter Jennifer wanted to be more than a flower girl, we created a position for her in the wedding ceremony. Jennifer stood beside her new stepmother and held Marcie’s bouquet during the ceremony. It was a beautiful show of unity between this new relationship. Jeff (the groom) beamed as his new wife and daughter stood side by side.
At the reception, instead of throwing the bouquet, Marcie invited Jennifer to the center of the venue. She presented the stunned Jennifer with the bouquet as her wedding keepsake. Marcie even added an inexpensive heart locket with pictures of the two of them to the bouquet before giving it to Jennifer. There was not a dry eye in the place, especially from Jeff as he watched his new bride and his daughter exchanging smiles and hugs.
Your Children in Your Wedding – Passing the Rings
For older children, have them present the rings to the bride/groom. In ceremonies I create, I ask the bride’s children to present her ring to the groom, and vice versa. This is a subtle way of the children endorsing the marriage and welcoming his/her new step parent into the family. If there is only one child, the child can present rings to both the bride and groom. I particularly like these ring boxes.
Two Different Looks for You to Choose From. Both are fabulous.
Readers – An Awesome Way to Include Your Children in Your Wedding:
- The child is old enough and comfortable reading in front of a group of people
- Selecting a reading that is age appropriate to the child
- We created a reading for Tanika from her favorite Dr. Suess Book “Oh the Places You’ll Go” for her parents wedding. We modified the words to talk specifically about her parents, and changed the names in the book to the couple. It was easy to do and created a unique lifetime memory for everyone involved. You could easily do this with any childhood book.
- Lots of practice – including some in front of people if possible.
- Being prepared on your wedding day, when the child chooses not to read. (Ask your officiant to be ready to step in and continue the reading on the child’s behalf.)
Kisses All Around
After the vows, invite the children to the front. Share hugs and kisses all around. Then, when the couple is pronounced, simply ask the officiant to add “and family”. Something like: “Family and friends, I present to you for the first time – Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Ivy Clammer and their children, Clay, Simon and Danielle”.
After the couple recesses, the children stand for a few seconds and then follow their parents down the aisle to exit. (The Maid of Honor can tell them when to go. If they immediately follow the couple, priceless picture opportunities can be lost.)
Whatever you do, be sure to be patient with children. They may get suddenly shy, or uncomfortable with what’s going on. This is a big day in their lives too. In the end, let them do as much as they are happy doing and just let the rest go.
Thanks to all the brides who allow me to try my unique (and sometime quirky) ideas. I appreciate your patience and support as we work to create a unique wedding for you.
If you have a tip you would like to share, we’d love to hear from you. It can be anything wedding related that will help other brides. After all, you are the expert.
Forward your ideas and comments either by posting them in the comments or sending me an email.
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