Consider including children from a previous marriage in your bridal party as bridesmaids, attendants, junior attendants, ushers, flower girl or ring bearer. The girls can hand out programs from pretty baskets before the ceremony.
According to the National Step-parenting Association, over 25% of brides or grooms have children from a previous marriage or relationship. Bringing a new spouse into the parent-child relationship can be a challenge. Children may feel threatened by the loss of their parent’s time and attention. They may feel that they are no longer loved as much as they were previously and this can lead to resentment toward the new spouse.
I believe it is wise to include the childen in the ceremony. It will help them feel very special and a true part of this new family. Little girls love to get all dressed up and every little boy loves a party.
Children may also like to do a short reading during the ceremony, or even escort the bride (their mother) down the aisle. However, remember that often small children (under the age of five) become distracted easily and notoriously have small attention spans during the boredom of dry clerical recitations. Instead of having very young children stand with the wedding party, it is a good idea to have them be seated after they finish their part in the ceremony.
At one of my weddings there was a 5 year old ring bearer. During rehearsal his mother was at the back row telling him when he should walk to the front with his ring pillow. At the rehearsal he slowly walked to the front, gave the ring on the pillow to the Best Man, turned and went to his seat on the front row. Perfect, right?
At the wedding it was a different story. As soon as his Mother turned him loose, he ran all the way to the front row and threw the ring pillow at the Best Man, who jumped at least a foot off the ground to catch the pillow. As the Best Man was “in the air” the photographer took a photo, I said, “Nice catch!” and everyone got a good laugh. In the meantime the little boy, startled at the laughter, turned around and ran all the way to the back row to his Mother.
Some couples will have the children light the family Unity Candle (not recommended at an outdoor wedding). A part of the ceremony can be edited to express to them that this is a marrage of family, not just two people. They all participate in lighting the Unity Candle to signify the joining of all of the family together. If you have an outdoor wedding, the candles are sometime difficult to light or to stay lit. Hurricane lamps may help, however you may want to have the Unity Candle indoors at the reception.
Sometimes the step-parent can offer a gift to the step-children. The girls could get a heart-shaped locket and the boys get a silver rope chain. Pendents, inscribed bracelets, pins or an inscribed watch for a boy are other ideas.
Involve the children in the planning of the wedding. Ask them for ideas. Children love to be consulted about details so encourage them to suggest colors, flowers, and even wedding music, even though their taste might be in question. You may want to let the children have a say in choosing what they will wear (within reason). Include the older girls when having hair and nails done before the wedding. Have the older children take candid pictures with a disposable wedding camera.
Girls love being creative and involved with making things. Have them help with making wedding favors, head-dresses, and table decorations. Boys can stuff the invitation envelopes and apply the postage stamps.
Some couples may have the minister or a close family member offer a special family prayer.
Be sensitive to the children’s feelings and remember kids are often shy, so be sure to have some “behind the scenes” jobs or activities available. If a child is reluctant to be involved in any activity, and there may be many reasons for this, respect their point of view and never force their involvement. Remind them that their presence is of great importance and that will be enough if that is their comfort level.
Larry James has a very special “Blended Family Ceremony for Step-Children,” a ceremony that includes the stepchildren in the ceremony in a very loving way.
Another idea is to use the Blending of the Sand Ceremony with Children (See Ceremony #2) and include the children.
It takes time to develop a relationship with a step-child, but it is important to the success of the marriage that the children feel that they a part of the new family.
By the way, “National Stepfamily Day!” is celebrated annually on September 16th and was founded by Christy Borgeld in 1997.
Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 445 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.
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