Mary Alyea and Ted Sheppard of Kingston, Ontario, wanted their blended family to be represented in their wedding ceremony so they created a kid-friendly unity ritual by incorporating candy instead of the usual sand or candles. "Ted has two sons and we have our little guy Teddy," Mary told Wedding Bells. "When we each poured our candy into the big jar, it symbolized that we became one big family—officially. The kids loved picking out their favorite candy and having their own jar to pour into the big 'us' jar. And then eating from it, of course!"
In additon to the bride and groom exchanging vows with each other, the wedding ceremony can be a heartfelt time for the new stepparent to express his or her commitment to their new children. One of mom Rachael's favorite moments at her wedding in a redwood tree circle south of San Francisco was "my daughter being an essential part of the ceremony and the look on her face as Cooper expressed his vows to her," she told Style Me Pretty. Not sure what to say? Offbeat Bride has a collection of blended family wedding vows to inspire you.
Much like families of yore had coats of arms, so can today's broods—and they can be perfect to incorporate into wedding ceremonies in the form of tokens kids can exchange with their new stepparent or stepsiblings. Choose a symbol or design that represents your family and feature it on lapel pins, pendants, charms, or rings that each member can wear to signify their connection. Or consider handing out family medallions, a design of three interlocking circles created by Rev. Roger Coleman, a United Methodist minister, to honor children of remarriages with a symbol of family unity. As two circles, like those represented by wedding rings, symbolize love, the third circle represents the love that reaches out to include others—like children!
If your child is just a baby, there are still ways to include him in your wedding ceremony that you can tell him about and show photos of when he is older. When Elizabeth and Scott Acquisto of Union County, New Jersey, found out about handfasting ceremonies, an adaptation of an ancient pagan ritual that symbolizes the joining of two lives, from their contemporary interfaith minister April Beer, they decided it would be an interesting way to incorporate their daughter Isabella. "it made total sense to use Izzi's baby blanket from the hospital," Elizabeth says. " She was literally the knot that tied us together."
Put your kids first—literally—by letting them lead your wedding procession. They can even carry this handmade pennant flag from The Ritzy Rose announcing "Here Comes my Mommy!" for added flair.
When Jenelle and Bryan Schultz of Plover, Wisconsin, blended their five kids into one family, they planned a special wedding photo that signified the moment. Three children stood on the left with two sons manning the right side, holding a picture frame through which their parents can be seen smooching in the background.
When a wedding is bringing together more than just the bride and groom, why not reflect all involved in the cake toppers? Set your sons and daughters on the fondant-covered tiers in the form of these toppers from Little Things Favors that can be personalized by age, hair color, and eye color. Or opt for a modern look with a handmade acrylic family silhouette topper by TrueLoveAffair on Etsy that can be turned into a keepsake display.
All eyes are on the dance floor when a couple takes it for the first time post nuptuals, so it can be a perfect time to highlight how well your family unit works together. At their 10th anniversary celebration, Clay and Liz started off their second "first dance" slow and sweet to the Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey version of "Endloess Love" until... the disk starts skipping. What?! Psych! In their YouTube video, the couple then breaks into the robot to some classic C&C Music Factory and an unepected dance routine for their guests. But wait, the surprises aren't over yet—soon, the couple's sons join in and the whole family dons sunglasses. From moves ranging from the apache to soulja boy, two step to walk it out, the moment is a celebration of the whole family.
If you're not up for an all-out choreographed family dance routine, just a simple two-step with the kids will do. At Michael and Abigail Mattis' wedding in Wilmington, North Carolina, halfway through the couple's first dance, Michael's daughter Eve, 7, and son Stephen Michael, 6, cut in, highlighting how their marriage was about four people instead of two.
Giving your kids official wedding duties is a great way to get them involved in your big day, whether its ushering guests to their seats, walking the bride down the aisle, or serving as maid of honor or best man. Just let their age and comfort level be your guide. Seven-year-old Vincent served as the best man to his dad Nick at his wedding to Lauren, even giving a great speech to his new parental unit. Children can also read a special poem or passage during wedding ceremonies or even perform a song, depending on where their talents lie.