A wedding ceremony is never just about the couple. It is also the joining of families and communities. Even with an elopement, there are now in-laws, where there were none before. If either or both partners have children, it is vital to include them in this most important occasion.
The age of a child will determine how much they can participate, but children of all ages need to be recognized as part of the new family. Involve them in the preparations for the wedding and consult them on issues from the color scheme, theme, food, to more important decisions.
They can, and I believe should, be recognized in your ceremony in numerous ways. Here are some ideas that have worked well for weddings I’ve created.
- The role of flower girl, ring bearer, Jr. Bridesmaid or Jr. Groomsmen are well established, but children can have the additional honor of escorting (or being escorted by) grandparents, or an even more special role – they can walk down the aisle with their parents.
- Sand ceremonies are becoming popular, and for good reason. The couple and their children pour different colors of sand together symbolizing their individuality and their combined beauty. There is an additional benefit of creating a keepsake of the mixed sands, which can be displayed in your home. The ritual works well for outdoor ceremonies where candles are not practical.
- For younger children, call them forward and have the officiant speak directly to them about their importance in the family, assuring them of their place in the family. Another twist on this is to create support vows – ask the parents to promise to continue to love and support their children, and the children give their support to the new relationship and any new step-siblings. All of this can be answered with a simple ‘I do.’
- A keepsake family certificate can be created and signed during or after the ceremony. Frame and display it in your home!
- Keepsake gifts – a promise ring, or family medallion can be given to children in much the way you exchange wedding rings. This is also a lasting symbol of the commitment you are all making to one another.
- Older children or teens can write or read poetry or prose, sing or play music during the ceremony. And like-wise, the couple can read a special piece to the children.
- The family honeymoon is a new trend. There are many places where children have separate or organized activities, so you still get to have private time, but also share a wonderful vacation.
I have had tremendous success incorporating children into the wedding ceremony. Couples have shared how meaningful it was for them, and how appreciative they were to have the love of the entire family expressed on this special day.
Thanks, as always, to Garth Woods for the gorgeous photo.
Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® officiating weddings, funerals, memorials and other milestones in the Pocono Mountains. She can be reached through her website: LoisHeckman.com