When marrying someone who already has kids, your marriage often means more than the uniting of two souls. It can also move you into a role as a step-parent, or may even involve adopting children as your own. Regardless, it can seem incomplete to have your wedding ceremony involve only the two of you. If you want your own children or the children of your soon-to-be spouse to be involved in your wedding ceremony, here are some ways to include them.
1. Mention New Parenting Responsibilities in the Vows
If your children aren’t present, are very young, or simply prefer not to be in the spotlight, a perfectly lovely way to acknowledge your new relationships is by mentioning your new children in the vows. Most vows include some reference to becoming a family, and when children are already part of this equation, you can personalize your vows to discuss this. If you already have a positive relationship with the children, talking about what you love about them can be a really beautiful way to start your new relationship as a parent to them, whether through adoption or step-parent experiences.
2. Write Vows Between You and Your New Child
One heart melting option is to sit down with the children and talk about what they might like to pledge to you and what kind of promises they’d like from you in return. It’s a great chance to talk to kids about what it means to gain a parent, and how that relationship may be similar or different from their relationships to biological parents. Watching a dad and his new daughter exchange promises before the bride and groom say their vows can also really connect your wedding guests to your new family. If your children are at an age where this idea appeals to them, that is the best time to try it. Teenagers may not be that interested since they have already begun to see themselves independently and will most likely have a relationship to you that is closer to a friend or acquaintance than to a parent. You, of course, know your situation best and can use this option in whatever way you see it working.
3. Choose a Unity Ceremony that Includes Them
Many couples choose to braid cords, light unity candles, or have other ways of physically showing that they are becoming one family. If you want your kids to come up front briefly and participate in such a ceremony, it can symbolize without words all the connections that you feel. These ceremonies are quite beautiful, and are perfect if your kids are a little bit on the shy side. It can also help your wedding guests place who your children will be/are if they don’t know you or your spouse well yet.
4. Have the Children Serve as the Bridal Party
If you have older children at your wedding, it can be suitable to have them serve as groomsmen or bridesmaids, if they are willing. Younger kids can make extremely cute flower girls or ring bearers, and anyone inbetween can usually choose how they want to participate. It can be a nice commemoration of your wider family to simply have them hold your flowers or stand beside you during the ceremony. Maybe they feel more comfortable giving a toast at a reception than being part of your ceremony, and that can be a very lovely way for them to participate, too.
5. Have a Child Officiate, Sing, or Read
If your child is an adult, they may actually be a good choice for the officiant of your wedding (especially if they are spiritual leaders in their vocations). It can make for a very intimate ceremony, especially if you don’t have close friends who are ministers who can perform the ceremony. If your child has a way with words, you might consider having them do a reading at your ceremony, or if they are good singers, you could have them sing a beautiful song. Finding a way that works for each child to feel as included as they want to be is a great idea; the whole experience should bring you all closer together.
By making room in the wedding ceremony for your children, you do more than just add a cute and meaningful element. You also begin the process of becoming a family to each other, and you show to the world what you mean to each other. No matter how you choose to proceed, it creates a great bond and memory to share.