INVOLVE YOUR CHILDREN
After you say “Yes”, you consider the changes that marriage will bring for you. In your excitement, you begin planning: you book a venue, arrange for a wedding officiant, hunt for dresses and tuxedos, plan a guest list, bachelor/bachelorette parties and many more details that you’re likely familiar with if you’re reading this. The attention is often focused on the couple and their wedding day. If either or both of you are bringing children to the marriage, my request is this: remember to pay attention to the children.
YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN FACE A BIG CHANGE ON YOUR WEDDING DAY
The children who are about to become part of a blended family undergo massive change on your wedding day. They may not have the language to express any anxiety or fear they may feel as they see you confirming a permanent relationship with another person. While the excitement is focused on you as you get ready for your wedding, your children may feel overlooked, as if they don’t matter. This time of transition is important for your children too. Rather than relegate your children to a secondary role in the planning of your big day and on your wedding day itself, consider including your children in the wedding preparation and wedding ceremony in a more meaningful way. Including your children in your wedding celebrations assures them that they are important too, and it helps to acknowledge the transition that they are making as you wed your beloved and begin a new family together.
A COMMITMENT CEREMONY FOR YOUR CHILD AND YOUR SPOUSE
When my brother got married several years ago, he realized that he wasn’t just marrying his fiancee – he was also creating a permanent relationship with her 6 year son. He realized that the marriage is important for the children in a blended family, and wanted to include her son in the ceremony in a more meaningful way than the typical “ring-bearer” role. My brother and his fiancee wanted her son to know that he was an important part of this new family, and he, my brother, would be an additional guide for the child as he grew up. So, we wrote a “commitment” ceremony that became part of the wedding ceremony. Immediately prior to the official marriage vows between the adults, my brother and the child each made public promises to each other. My brother promised to support the child and guide him as he grows, and committed to being a loving husband for the child’s mother. For his part, the child promised to support his mother, my brother and their new family. Then they each offered each other a gift as a token of their promise. It was a moving and special moment. My sister-in-law and her son both remember it as their favourite part of the wedding ceremony. If you are planning a marriage which will result in a blended family, consider involving the children in the wedding ceremony in an active and central way – it will give them a sense of purpose, security and importance. The memory of their special time in the spotlight is something they (and their natural parent) will treasure forever.