Congratulations! You’re getting married! Whether you’ve been with your partner for ages and have several children together or you’re planning a second marriage and both have children from previous relationships, or something in between, you will probably want to incorporate the children into your special day.
When one or both of you have children, a couple can no longer make wedding vows only to each other – the union involves all of you. Of course it’s a huge deal for children when their parents find new partners and it might help them to be happier with the change if they feel that they are an important part of it.
People who’ve been through this advise that the first step is to talk to the children and ask them how much they’d like to be involved. Everyone’s different, and how you go about it should very much depend on your individual children. Some would much rather sit with a friend or grandparent and watch proceedings than be in the spotlight, while others will relish every opportunity to be centre of attention!
One of the more obvious options is to have the children as bridesmaids or page boys but we’ve come up with some other fairly special ways you can share the big day together.
Put their names on the wedding invitations
A good start, to let the kids know how important this day is to all of you, is to put their names on the wedding invitations along with yours inviting your guests. You could even make them the main host, for example:
“Please join Jo and James as they celebrate the wedding of their mother Julie to John Smith.”
Best man/ Best woman
Depending on the age of your kids, you could consider them as best man or best woman/maid of honour. They might not be comfortable or capable of all the organising and speechmaking that comes with the role though so you could appoint them an adult assistant best man to take over the boring bits!
“When my partner and I get married next year I’m having both our sons (we have 1 each very close in age from previous relationships) walk down the aisle with me! I think it’s a great way to include them! They’re so proud they’re helping us get married! They know we couldn’t do it without them.”
Kids hold rings
Many people who’ve got married when they have children have said they didn’t want the children following them down the aisle like normal bridesmaids but they wanted all the children standing side by side with them during the ceremony.
“We had my hubby’s 2 boys stand up with us – the older boy was his best man and the younger was the ring bearer. They were really little and wouldn’t remember but we did it so that when they’re older and see the photos of themselves in these roles they will know that we included them.”
Family Unity Candles
The unity candle is common in straightforward marriages but can be changed slightly to accommodate the children. Each person involved in the ceremony – the bride, groom and children – has their own candle. The bride and groom light their candles, then light their own children’s candles from theirs. Then the whole family light the family unity candle at once – all their flames joining to create a new light together.
Sand ceremonies are a popular option in situations like this. You can use it instead of the unity candles some people opt for, but the sand ceremony allows involvement from more than just the two of you.
You have a large vase that essentially represents life. Then you each have your own colour of sand in separate containers. The idea is that once this sand is poured into the vessel, even though each colour is still clearly visible in its individual hue, it’s impossible to separate any colour back out from the rest!
Karen says “Even though we have two children together as well as my husband’s daughter from a past relationship, we chose just one colour to represent all three children since our children were too young to pour the sand themselves. But depending on how many children you have, and their ages, you could choose a colour for each child and let them all take a turn pouring a little sand into the family vessel. Or you could choose one colour to represent all your children and one colour to represent all his children to symbolise the two families uniting. Choose colours that suit your décor tastes and feature the vase afterwards in your home. Adding colours for the kids is a constant visual reminder whenever things get tough and if you slip into the “his” and “mine” mentality.”
Incorporating the children into your vows
Here are a few ideas for how to include the children in the special words you say to each other. You can edit these to fit your own family situation better.
Groom: “(children’s names), I want you to know that I dearly love your mother. We have become very good friends over the last few years and we have learned to love each other. As you have so graciously shared this wonderful woman with me, so will I share the love I feel for her with you. Together, we will learn much more about each other. I promise also to be fair and to be honest, to be available for you as I am for your mum, and in due time, to earn your love, respect and true friendship. I will not attempt to replace anyone, but to make a place in your hearts that is for me alone. I will be father and friend, and I will cherish my life with all of you. On this day when I marry your mum, I marry you, and I promise to love and support you as my own.”
Bride: “(children’s names), I want you to know that I dearly love your father. We have become very good friends over the years and we have learned to love each other. As you have so graciously shared this wonderful man with me, so will I share the love I feel for him with both of you. Together, we will learn much more about each other. I promise also to be fair and to be honest, to be available for you as I am for your dad, and in due time, to earn your love, respect and true friendship. I will not attempt to replace anyone, but to make a place in your hearts that is for me alone. I will be mother and friend, and I will cherish my life with both of you. On this day when I marry your dad, I marry you, and I promise to love and support you as my own.”
Or another option:
Groom: I, ______want you to know how much I cherish your mother and how much I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share in your lives as well. Over the last few years I fallen in love with idea of us being a family and can’t wait to start a new life with you. I will be there for you, in whatever you may need. I will cherish your friendship and respect you. My intentions are not to replace anyone, but be an addition to your life.
Bride: I, _______ love you and your father with all my heart and will live the rest of my life with my very best attentions to make your life full and happy. I will listen to your needs and do my best to fulfil them. I will trust, support and respect you. My intentions are not to replace anyone, but to be an addition to your life.
Give children jewellery
When you find words that you like, you could consider buying special jewellery for your children too, and giving them, saying special words after you and your partner have exchanged rings. You could buy lockets or diamond studs for girls and cufflinks or a special watch for boys.
Instead of the customary bride and groom on top of the cake, you could create a cake which really represents your family. Like this one from Custom Cakes Crewe.
Put up family photos
Make it a family affair. Feature pictures of yourselves with your kids and as a family in the place you’re getting married at, or in the reception.
Whatever the make-up of your family, try and think outside the box to make it a gorgeous party that really carries the spirit of all those involved. Happy planning!