There are 4 million stepchildren in this country (US Census Bureau 2010). That represents a lot of blended families! If you are about to join the ranks, get a solid start by involving your kids in your ceremony. After all, the commitment you’ll be making is not only to your new spouse. It is also to the children in the new family you are creating. Your ceremony should reflect that.
- Readings: Our previous blog on Readings suggested using children’s books. They have the most insightful truths. Depending on the ages of your children, select an excerpt of a children’s story for them to read.For example, consider the story from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! But in this case, revise the words to apply to your family. “We’re off to Great Places! Today is our day! Our mountain is waiting, So… let’s get on our way!”
- Vows: If they are comfortable and old enough, consider allowing them to share in the vows. If they are teens, they may have the maturity to share promises of who they’ll strive to be in this family. Just make sure it is their desire to participate and not yours alone. In turn, when you recite your vows, make sure to include them too.As an alternative, consider asking them to do a toast at the reception where they can tell a story and make a wish for your new family’s future.
A common unity ritual, the Sand Ceremony, can be modified for blended families. Each member of the family selects a color of sand that best represents them. One at a time, each child and both of you will add your sand to a vessel placed in the middle of a table. The result is symbolic of the new family unit; a combination of colors that are beautifully blended, but still unique.
Take this ritual a step further to encourage future activities as a family; instead of sand, use candy to be eaten when watching a family movie, tokens to be used for arcade games on a family vacation, or coins to spend on something each member of the family must agree on.
The two of you will exchange rings to symbolize your love and commitment. What about the kids? Engrave a charm for each of them with the word Family or Ohana on one side, and your new family name or each of their individual names on the other. Ask your Justice of the Peace to extend the Ring Exchange to include a Gift Exchange that includes the whole family.
You have a few options depending on their age and personalities. If the children are 10 years old or older, consider asking them to be your Maid of Honor, Bridesmaid, Best Man, or Groomsman. If they are younger, being a Flower Girl or Ring Bearer would be great.
Just a Note
Many people worry that kids ages 2-6 will not perform as expected if they are a flower girl or ring bearer. But honestly, they are so darn cute anything they do will melt the hearts of your guests and become a favored moment in the day. But in the case of toddlers, be sure to assign someone that the children are comfortable with to sit with them or even take them out, if the situation calls for it. Bring favorite toys, books, and games to occupy them. If your venue has a museum or near-by playground, plan to have that person take them there as a distraction, and a treat!
If you’d like more ideas, ask your wedding officiant found on findaJP.com. Our Justices of the Peace have observed the many ways couples incorporate children into their ceremonies. As you discuss options for your children, considering their specific ages and personalities will uncover the best option for you.
Find your perfect JP at findaJP.com
Cindy Dumont is a Justice of the Peace in North Hampton, New Hampshire.