For many couples, marriage will result in the blending of two families. When the bride or groom (or both) has children from a previous relationship, they often wish to acknowledge these children on their wedding day. Thankfully, there are many ways to do this. The younger ones might be the flower girls or ring bearers; while teens could be junior groomsmen or bridesmaids, or even escort their parent down the aisle. In addition, couples may wish to add a family blending ritual as a special part of their ceremony. Here are some ideas:

Sandy loved candles, so she and Craig chose to include their four teens by lighting a family unity candle. They all held a different colored taper, and their grandmothers were invited to come forward and light them. Then Craig, Sandy and each of the children gave a brief explanation of what they were bringing to this new family (laughter, passion, enthusiasm, etc.), before lighting the family candle together.

Michele and Ryan’s children were quite young, so they chose to include a very simple ritual. Their children were each handed a single-stem flower and reminded that, just like their flower, they were each unique and beloved. The family then placed their flowers in a small vase; the resulting bouquet was tied with a ribbon; and it was noted that together they are even more beautiful and special.

Some couples give their children a gift as a special reminder of this important day. Tama and Jason presented a hand-crafted charm to both of Tama’s teenage daughters. Cheryl’s young daughters each received a silver pendant from their new step dad, Kevin. Cory gave Rob’s teenaged daughter a special necklace, while Rob presented Cory’s four-year-old with a set of walkie-talkies “so she can call me whenever she needs me.” (She was thrilled!)

Troy and Jayne wanted to celebrate the creation of their new blended family by including their three teenaged children. They chose to incorporate a sand blending ceremony, with each member of the family adding a different color of sand to the larger “family” container. Troy and Jayne used their primary wedding colors, while each of the children chose sand in their favorite color. The unique patterns and colors of the blending sand not only symbolized the uniqueness of the newly created family, but also its longevity. “For as long as these grains of sand are combined, may you continue to combine your love and commitment to each other as a family.”

Family vows are another way to include the children. After the couple has exchanged their own vows, they speak to their children, promising to maintain an environment of love, acceptance and encouragement for the whole family. In turn, the children promise to listen to and be patient with their parents, to have a sense of humor, and do their part to create a happy family atmosphere.

However they are acknowledged, including your children in the ceremony is a good foundation for your happy family!

—Rev. Jeri Murphy

About Rev. Jeri Murphy: Jeri is a non-denominational minister who has been performing weddings in the Sacramento area for more than a decade. She works with each couple to create a unique wedding ceremony that celebrates their love and sets the stage for their long and happy life together as a married couple.