It’s not unusual for couples to be entering a second marriage. As a celebrant, I delight in seeing more mature people so obviously in love and glowing with joy.
Being that bit older can often mean that the couple has freedom to choose how they want to mark their big occasion. They may be of independent means – and, of course, their parents may not have the influence on decisions that they once had – indeed, they may not even be around any more. So the couple can do it “their way”, and that’s brilliant!
However, a more challenging aspect may be how (or if) to involve any children that may be on the scene.
The children’s ages will be a deciding factor, as will personality, and personal choices.
If you want to involve them actively, I’d suggest any (or all) of the following – aimed primarily, but not exclusively, at teenage children:
- Involve them in the planning
Your children will probably appreciate being consulted and involved, particularly when it comes to the reception. They may have surprisingly good ideas about a children’s table, their menus, entertainment and music.
They might even emerge onto the dance floor at the reception, if a few of their favourite songs have been included.
- Involve them practically
More artistic children may be able to create décor either for the ceremony or for the reception (serviette folding, name cards, banners, etc.).
Musical ones – very musical children – may be able to sing or play something either at the ceremony or at the reception. (Just beware of being too self-indulgent : inviting little Johnny, who’s only had four hours’ lessons, to play Sibelius’s violin concerto is asking for a lot of restlessness among the guests [beyond the initial “aaah, bless”].)
Some may be able to read a text of some sort (although they may need instruction on reading in public).
Children may be part of the procession/recession, although again instruction from, say, the celebrant may be wise.
Do give each of the children a role, and, unless it is unavoidable, don’t leave anyone out.
If it fits in with your budget, maybe you can let your child invite a best friend. That way, they won’t feel isolated in an adult world, but can enjoy empathetic company.
- The Ceremony
Apart from processing, a child can be an usher (possibly, with a specific role, such as directing people to their places, or collecting and guarding the presents). A child can give away the mother, or can be the ring-bearer (but choose that child with care!).
Children can also be part of a ritual.
- Unity Rituals
Among possible rituals, one example is the Unity Candle ritual. Each child is provided with a taper and (health and safety permitting!) they all use these to light the Unity Candle together with the bride and groom. The symbolism is strong and affecting.
An alternative is for them to make vows to their new step-parents (who could reciprocate).
- Make the children feel special
Again, age will be a determinant, but an older child could propose a toast at the reception.
Dancing with the step-parents can be a lovely touch (but arrange this with both parties well in advance!).
Children can be a boon or a challenge at such an event. Make a positive out of their presence!
As the children (like it or not!) are joining a new family, it makes a lot of sense to include them wherever possible. If you start bonding with them in early days, that has got to make sense, hasn’t it?