With divorce rates at an all time high, many people with children from a first marriage are managing a new component to the wedding planning process: how to get the kids involved. However, it’s not limited to divorcees.
A great deal of couples are also following the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt approach by choosing to have kids before tying the knot, creating a stark contrast to the “no kids before marriage” norm of the past. According to a 2013 study conducted at the University of Virginia, unmarried women in their 20s account for 48% of all first births in the US.
It used to be that if you became pregnant out-of-wedlock, you kept it hush-hush and got married just to avoid the shame of raising an illegitimate child. However, over the years, the stigma associated with single parenthood has shriveled. This may be due to the many celebrities that have children before nuptials. Mila Kunis, Zooey Deschanel, Alicia Keys, and Scarlett Johansson are just a few examples of celebs who purchased baby clothes before picking out a wedding dress.
With so many millennials choosing to have kids before getting married, more and more couples are asking: “How do we involve our kids in the wedding?”
It’s an excellent question and one that wedding planners and parents are dealing with everyday. When you involve your children in the wedding process, it helps them to deal with the change of a married family by showing they are important, even on the big day. Here are a few suggestions of how to include your kids before, during, and after your wedding ceremony.
Before The Ceremony
Let Them Help Pick Out The Ring – Obviously, picking out the ring is a huge, budget conscious decision that requires substantial consideration.
In many cases, children have a pretty keen eye for things their mother likes, and taking the time to ask them their opinion on which ring will be the perfect fit could be very helpful in making the final decision. This is especially good for a child who may be a bit older at the time of the wedding.
Have Them Make Something For The Wedding – Involving your children in the preparations for the wedding validates their significant role in the event. If your child is a bit younger, there are numerous crafts and projects on the Internet that you can give your kids to keep them active in planning for the big day.
For instance, have your kids draw something and use their designs for the wedding invitation or use their handwriting for the seating cards. Scour Pinterest for crafty DIY wedding decorations and ask them to help you make the table settings, goody bags, and other cute accents.
Have Them Make Something For You To Wear During the Wedding – Wear a piece or accessory made by your children as you walk down the aisle. Angelina Jolie had her veil embellished with drawings made by all of her children, resulting in a one-of-a-kind and exceedingly sentimental approach to showing her commitment to her family.
If having your veil covered in kids’ drawings is not your style, try wearing a bracelet, flower, or hairpiece made by your kids.
Cake Tasting! – Let’s face it: trying out wedding cakes is one of the most enjoyable parts of the wedding planning process. Bringing your kids to some of the more fun and playful items on your to-do list keeps them involved and happy in an enjoyable way.
During the Ceremony
Have Them Be the Ring Bearer – Your little ring bearer in a miniature tuxedo or fancy dress, carrying the symbol of your union down the aisle, will enchant all your guests. Expect a lot of heartfelt “aw’s” as your child walks the rings down the aisle.
Make Them A Bridesmaid/Groomsman – If you’re kids are older and can stand for the duration of your ceremony, why not have them be a part of the wedding party? Usually, the bridesmaids and groomsmen are the men and women closest to you in your life, so having your kids in the bridal party is right on point.
Ask Them to “Give You Away” – Traditionally, the father gives the bride away, but breaking this tradition is completely acceptable. This is an especially great option for women with deceased parents or parents who cannot attend the wedding and people with older children who may need to find a way to show how important the child is to the whole event.
Write Your Kids Into Your Vows – Vows are a public announcement of your promise to each other, the promise you plan to keep for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t those promises involve your children that you plan to raise together? It’s important to frame your vows in regard to the most important aspects of your marriage, and your kids are a big part of that.
At The Reception
Be Introduced As A Couple And As A Family – A formal introduction of your union to each other and as a family let’s everyone, especially your kids, feel included. Make sure when they announce you as Mr. and Mrs. Whoever, that they also announce all of you as a family.
Invite Them to Join The First Or Second Dance – The first dance is typically between the newlywed couple, but if you have kids you can bring them onto the dance floor halfway between the songs.
Have them take turns dancing with you and your partner or dance as a group. You could even choreograph a dance to really please the crowd and have some fun with your family.
Have Your Kids Perform/ Give A Speech – If your children are on the older side, they might want to say some kind words about your love to each other. Or maybe if you’re lucky enough to have musically-oriented offspring, they can perform a song or sing during the first dance.
Include Them Forever
Give Them A Ring or Necklace – Your marriage will carry memories for your child for the rest of their life. You commemorate your marriage with your wedding rings; why not give them a ring as well?
A simple promise ring inscribed with the date of your wedding would be a nice way for your kids to commemorate the day, or even a bracelet or necklace.
Engrave Their Initials Inside Your Rings – Put your children’s initials inside your rings to give the rings a more personal touch and symbolize their role in both your lives. Other than each other, your kids are the closest people to you, and your rings can reflect that.
Keep your kids in the loop before, during, and after your wedding to maintain their enthusiasm and excitement for you on your big day! Take the ideas above and keep your kids as busy as you will be during the entire nuptial process.