This was my posting on Facebook this week: “Did I tell you all about the beautiful little girl called Imogen, who was at the wedding I performed at Melton Estate last weekend. She was so sweet as she said after she walked to the front "it’s wedding time" and then as her Mother walked up, she said "Here comes Mummy - she is beautiful". Felicity and Dan can be very proud of their beautiful little girl and children at weddings is the blog I am working on this week.”
When I meet with couples, I invite them to tell me, who is in the wedding party and if they are going to be given away and by who. Both questions tell me a great deal and that is generally when I hear the couple have children. I ask names and ages to give me a feel for how they could be involved in the wedding day. More often than not, it is still Dad (and sometimes Mum) who will give the couple away. Sometimes, it is, however, their children.
Sometimes wedding couples have very strong ideas of what they want the children to do. Other couples ask for ideas and I am happy to offer suggestions on how I have involved children in the past with a positive outcome.
When couples who are entering into a blended relationship with children from another marriage, I find there are often many levels of complexity. So it is very important to ensure everyone is involved in the best possible way. I felt very sad for a couple recently who had grown up children (adults) and one person didn’t want to be involved. I always think for one day everyone can do their best to be supportive and involved in the wedding ceremony how the couple wish.
Often after we discuss how the children could be involved it requires consultation to see if the children are indeed comfortable to be involved. So it is not surprising that before the wedding day, I am told that the children will not be involved as they really don’t want to be involved in any other way than just being present. What I don’t get, however, is why leave it until the day to throw your toys out of the cot and be a nuisance to your parents (many far too old to have toys, by the by).
It is also fair to say that sometimes because of age or a particular child’s temperament, it is best NOT to include them in the wedding party. There are ways, whereby they can still be involved in the ceremony.
So in what ways can children be involved I hear you asking?
WEDDING PARTY – little girls make the cutest flower girls and love being in special little dresses and little boys in suits as page boys make for some wonderful photos.
WALKING OUT TO STAND WITH MUM AND DAD ( in blended weddings I have done weddings without attendants – just a daughter and a son beside Mum, and two sons by Dad – and many, many different variations on this one.)
READING – a child who writes something special or is prepared to read something is very inspiring.
SINGING and PLAYING MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS – often families have amazing amounts of talent and a wedding is a lovely place to share that with close family and friends. A realistic understanding of a child’s ability is, however, important. Do me mindful, that if they are not perhaps that talented – less is better!!
HOLDING THE RINGS – another special role and perhaps grandparents hold them and the grandchildren collect them and take them to their parents.
RELEASING DOVES, BALLOONS and BUTTERFLYS is a great way to show family unity.
LIGHTING CANDLES - did this with a whole family with different coloured candles – was very beautiful.
BLOWING BUBBLES as the couple walk out.
POURING SAND – on many occasions I have witnessed the pouring of sand into a container that can be sealed and treasured. Different colours of sand are poured by each family member to symbolise family unity.
HORSESHOE (similar type gifts) – presented by their children to parents, or by nieces and nephews.
I think it’s always special if the bride and groom wish to unite two families together as a part of their wedding ceremony. A good way, I believe, is to incorporate one of those things above and then following the ring exchange give gifts to the children. The gifts need to be considered very carefully. I do remember one child saying, along the lines of “what’s this?” It was a somewhat awkward moment for all concerned. More often than not, it is a charm bracelet, necklaces, bone carvings, metal tags... not sure what they are called, you know the things the soldiers have!! As parents you know what would be the appropriate gift for your child. Putting the items of jewellery on to the children makes, I believe, for a photo of special and tender moments. A wedding is a major event and worth turning into a rite of passage to signify the change.
One of the most powerful ceremonies was when in a blended family situation – both parents made a heartfelt thanks to their children for going through the blending process together and coming out the other side still smiling. The couple then presented gifts to the other’s children. Lots of tears were shed by guests at that wedding.
Sometimes because of the experience I have gained over the last 14 years I incorporate children during a ceremony (even though not planned) because intuitively you know you are doing the right thing.
A warning to parents: If the venue for the wedding has water close by, I suggest that if children are in the bridal party, a guest is given responsibility for that one child. That way if the child loses the plot and is disruptive, there is someone who will take his or her away so the ceremony can continue. Or if the child decides he or she has had enough standing around and takes off, someone other than the wedding party can ensure they are safe. This plan ensures the couple can relax and enjoy their day. I do believe on most occasions that children of all ages step up to mark and will stand looking so cute while the ceremony takes place. I have found that many couples choose to let the children, sit in the front row with grandparents, aunts and uncles. This again ensures that children feel comfortable and let the ceremony flow. Rescue remedy is a safe way to ensure children are not hyper for the day.
Timing of ceremonies can greatly impact on how your children will respond to the excitement of the day. Having the ceremony to late in the day and you will find that many children will be tired, grumpy and uncooperative. I know a bride recently was unhappy that their children didn’t want to be in the family photos. Remember they are usually in tune with Mum in particular, and if Mum is on edge that may well, impact your child. So again, thoughtful planning and flexibility (going with the flow) often helps here. Ensure children can get a sleep during the day if that will help. Be organised so you can relax and let the children be children. I will deliver the ceremony regardless of the children running around and moving – it’s your wedding day and if you want children to be part of it. We will make it happenJ
So in summary please discuss your plans and together we can work out the best way for you and your family to have an amazing day with your children involved. We are so blessed to have them in our lives.
To finish a few words from my Australian Celebrant friend, Margie Rankin, “I Love doing weddings where the children are involved. They are so natural and come out with priceless sayings, which generally cause laughter among the guests (and me!)”