Weddings Are Not Just for Two Any More

kathleen  heath with boys med

You might read that title and think, “they never were.”, and, of course, you’d be correct.  Often weddings seem to be for the parents, for friends and relatives, sometimes for appearances and, of course, for the bride and groom.  But more and more there are other very important people who perhaps should be considered, and included, in a wedding ceremony.  I’m referring to children.

Today, more than one in four marriages involve children and this makes marriage more than the union of two persons. It is, in fact, the proclaiming of a new family.  Many brides and grooms come together with one or more children present from previous relationships. The idea of mom, or dad, getting married again is not always met with a lot of enthusiasm by the kids.  They have a lot of mixed emotions, concerns, and questions that need to be dealt with.

Sometimes it’s good to have some counseling prior to the wedding.  It’s not uncommon for children to worry that time normally spent with them, will now be spent with the new stepparent. Having another person involved in making decisions, setting rules and disciplining them can be quite stressful for a child.  “You’re not my boss” or “You’re not my real dad (or mom)’ are common comments in this kind of a situation.

If the marriage results in a blended family, with children from both the bride and the groom now living together, there are often difficulties with the new step-siblings finding their place in the family hierarchy or pecking order.

I believe it’s crucial for children to know they are an important part of the family, not just part of the “baggage” that couples bring to their new relationship. A good way to let them know this is to make them part of the ceremony itself. By having them participate in the ceremony, they can feel that they are being included from the very beginning, that they are a valued part of this new family, and that what they think and feel matter.

One way to accomplish this is for the minister, or officiant, close to the beginning of the ceremony to ask: “Who supports this man and this woman in marriage?” at which time the children, whether it’s one or several, answer in loud voices, “I do” or “We do.”

Even when there is no actual wedding rehearsal, this part can, and should, be rehearsed ahead of time. Having the minister spend just a few minutes alone with the child, or children, can let them know they are an important part of the service, and that the bride and groom really want their blessing. There is also a wonderful Family Medallion Ceremony that reinforces the commitment all the family members make to each other.  |  email us
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