A wedding is more than just the joining of two people. It's a ceremony that brings families together, too. Just like a marriage, blending families is not always a smooth process, nor does it happen overnight. As such, blended-family weddings can stir up a medley of strong emotions in the children especially, no matter their ages. If care is taken, though, this can be a special, symbolic occasion. There are many ways to involve children to make them feel comforted and included.
If you feel it's right, try to involve your children early on in the process during the planning stage. Ask them for ideas and input. At age 4 or 5, children could assume the roles of flower girl or ring bearer. Eight- to 10-year-olds could be junior bridesmaids and junior groomsmen. Older children could act as bridesmaids and groomsmen. Parents may want their children to stand up with them as maid of honor or best man, or even walk them down the aisle. They could hand out wedding programs, show guests to their seats or escort their grandparents down the aisle. There are plenty of options. Most importantly, leave it up to them so they don't feel forced out of their comfort zone.
Involving children in a blended-family wedding is a way to honor them, to make a grand gesture of your love and commitment to them -- not just each other. Incorporate your children into your vows, or ask them to join in saying "I do." Older children could read a biblical passage or meaningful poem to make the ceremony more personal. Design a unity ceremony -- sand, candle, etc. -- that they can participate in. Any one of these symbolic gestures shows love and care. The trick is to find the balance between too much involvement and not enough.
Having children at the wedding reception, whether they are your nieces and nephews, children of dear friends, etc. can do a lot for making your kids' experience a positive one. Accommodating for kids at your wedding reception will be easier than might you might expect if you plan ahead.
Young children and even teenagers tend to have shorter attention spans. They will most likely feel left out and bored, too, with all the adult music, food speeches, etc. While seating very young children next to their parents might help in terms of supervision, a kids table will allow them to socialize and feel comfortable with people their own age. By including child-friendly fare on the menu, such as chicken fingers and fries or fish sticks and mac 'n' cheese, the kids will be delighted, and so will your budget, for the cost per plate will be a lot less expensive.
Ask your DJ or band to include a few songs that would appeal to your younger guests. Hire a balloon artist or some other form of live entertainment (Adults would enjoy that, too.). If there is a separate, empty room at your venue, transform it into a kids room. Arrange for a baby sitter and provide games, arts and crafts, movies and kids karaoke. You could even solicit a few friends or older teens to keep an eye on the younger ones and help to round them up if they become a little unruly or cranky. Most children love to be swung around on the dance floor and jump in the conga line, but back-up entertainment will ensure that they and their parents have a great time.
As with many things in life, some aspects of wedding planning aren't plain and simple. But with some careful thought and consideration you can make a blended-family wedding a unique, memorable celebration for all.