Second marriages are more the norm today than ever before. Almost 50% of marriages today involve someone who has been married before. That statistic brings up the real issue of whether or not minor children should be made a part of the wedding and the bridal party. More bridal couples than not look for a way to make their weddings more than just their union, but also a blending of families. Of course every couple has its own specific set of circumstances, based on factors such as the level and warmth of the relationships to the issue of guardianship and living arrangements.
Announcing your engagement and impending marriage to the people who love and care about you will, hopefully, evoke the joyful response which is appropriate. If you have children from your first marriage, be prepared for mixed reviews when you make your announcement. Leave time for questions. Leave time for your children to be able to vent their concerns. Try to explain the logistics involved and how things will change for them. If you can put their minds at ease, the transition and the wedding itself will be more pleasant for all of you.
One of the most pleasant aspects of a second-time wedding is the ability of the couple themselves to do it “their way.” Pay close attention in the planning of your reception, so the children are taken into consideration. In the interest of future family harmony, your wedding should be a shared family event. It is mush easier to do this if your reception is an informal one, in which children can participate joyfully. Even if it’s not traditional in your family or community to invite children to a wedding, you will make your children all the more welcome, if you also invite the children of friends and family.
There are many ways to make your children feel a part of your wedding, making the day special to them, as well as to you.
Click Here for suggestions of roles appropriate for children.
In addition to giving the children their own responsibilities at the wedding, there are inclusive “traditions” that you can establish. Couples might consider using their creativity and special knowledge of the children to design their own special custom for inclusion into the ceremony. Presenting the child with a special piece of jewelry, with the date and child’s name inscribed, can serve such a purpose. This is much like the symbolism of the wedding ring for the couple and involves designing and creating a specially inscribed medallion which is presented to each child. The medallion may be accompanied by a recitation or poem which describes a commitment of continued love and family bonding. The ceremony may be followed by joining hands and a prayer of blessing for the entire family.
Sharing a poem, or anecdote with the guests, perhaps something written by the child for the parent and vice versa, can be considered. Your wedding ceremony offers an opportunity to create your own special wedding vows, which can incorporate special meaning to both of you and to your children. When there are children involved, it’s especially important to have them also participate in an active way. There have been special ceremonies written (check your library and bookstore) specifically to incorporate the melding of families and you may wish to use one of these or write your own. One custom for second marriages with children is to have all the children from both sides participate in a unity candle ritual or a prayer of family blessing.
At the reception, you can make the “first dance” one that includes not only the married couple, but also each of the extended family members . . . mom, step-dad, dad, step-mom, and all the kids. After the reception, when the gifts are opened, allow the children in the family to open gifts and/or keep track (list) of who gave what.
One last comment about children . . . second marriages can be a really difficult time for them and, in the rush and excitement of the day, they may get lost in the shuffle. It’s a nice idea to set up a “buddy” for each of the children, perhaps a favorite aunt or friend they know. Having someone with whom they can share the day in a positive way can be an advantage both for you and for them.
The job of melding families is a difficult one. The wedding ceremony and reception offer many opportunities for couples to work toward that objective while including something emotionally significant to everyone sharing the special day.