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Blended families are not uncommon. At least half of the weddings I've planned involved couples who had at least one child coming into the new marriage with them. Most of the time, the kids are really excited about the wedding.
One of my all-time favorite groups arrived wearing team shirts - there were enough children to merit them! But sometimes, even when they like the person their mom or dad is marrying, weddings can still be hard on the children. I've noticed it's especially difficult for kids who have lost a parent. They're happy for their surviving parent, but watching them get married feels different.
Letting the kids help plan the wedding will make them excited to be a part of things. Giving teenagers a chance to help create your wedding reception music playlist, for example, shows you care that they have a good time, too.
There are a number of ways to incorporate children of blended families into the wedding activities, so that they truly feel a part of things. Here are five ideas that you can steal:
1. Invite the children to be in the wedding party.
Even if the ages don't exactly break out the way you traditionally would assign roles, these are your kids and that means there are no rules. Do what feels right to you.
2. Display your children's talents at your wedding and reception.
Several of my couples have had one or more kids perform music at the wedding ceremony or even a fun tribute song at the reception. Showing off how proud both of you are of your new family helps the kids feel like they're a part of a team.
3. Incorporate the children into your vows.
While your marriage is truly about you and your new spouse, if either of you is bringing children into the marriage, vowing to love them too can make a huge difference.
4. Share a ceremonial act that includes the kids.
Such as sand blending or a unity candle. When the minister is talking about how you are merging your lives, the children should be referenced as well. You're sending a subtle but specific message.
5. Allow the kids to give a toast if they want to at the wedding reception.
This is their new family that you're celebrating, and if they want to wish you luck, take it as a tremendous compliment. Don't force anybody to perform publicly if they hate it - but if they want to share their feelings through words or music, encourage that participation.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.