On November 5, 2016 I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding ceremony between Robert Hickman and Brandy Vincent. This was much more than a wedding ceremony between a man and a woman that completely and utterly adore each other - this was also a union of a blended family.
You see, Robert has one son from a previous relationship and Brandy has two children, a daughter and a son, from a previous relationship. I have known Robert for several years. We first met when his son and my son played little league baseball together in Mart, Texas. I later met Brandy through Robert at...you guessed it...through little league baseball! From the very minute I saw Brandy, Robert, and the three children interacting, I knew they had something very special. Something that not every blended family has - unconditional love for one another.
At the wedding rehearsal I wasn't shocked that their children were involved in the wedding ceremony. Their two sons were groomsmen and their daughter was a bridesmaid. But something else that happened made this a very emotional event for all of them! During the rehearsal Brandy told her two children that THEY would be walking down the aisle to give her away during the ceremony! I can't even begin to explain the emotions! There were plenty of happy tears and even more hugs. This very moment was the highlight of the entire wedding rehearsal.
Throughout the entire wedding ceremony the children were included and I personally feel that including the children in the process helps them feel like they're part of the new family that is being created through the marriage. Brandy and Robert did an excellent job at planning their wedding. Everything was absolutely beautiful! But the one thing that stood out to me was the way they used this ceremony to create a new family by including them in the blending process. I came up with 5 ways to blend families with children at weddings.
1. If they are old enough to do so, let them help with the planning. One way you can let your children help with planning the wedding is by letting them help pick some of the music for the reception. Kids LOVE music! Many girls also LOVE crafting! If they do, let them help assemble decorations. There are a gazillion ways your kiddos can help when it comes to planning the wedding. You know your kids better than anyone else so give them a "job" and let them run with it.
2. Let your children invite some of their friends to the wedding. Being a part of a wedding as an adult can be stressful. Being a part of a wedding as a child can be stressful as well. If you let them invite their best friend, they will have their support system right there. Obviously this is also dependent upon the age(s) of your children. Having a friend there gives them someone to feel comfortable with...someone to talk to...dance with...and laugh with.
3. Include the children in the actual wedding ceremony. As I already mentioned, Brandy and Robert included all three of their children in the wedding ceremony. It made them feel as if it was a family event rather than an event between the adults.
4. Create an event during the ceremony that includes the children. A popular event during the ceremony that includes the children is a sand ceremony. Robert and Brandy chose to do a candle lighting ceremony which involved the children. Creating an event during the ceremony that includes the children is in essence sharing the vows with the children.
5. Give the children a REAL role in the wedding ceremony if they would like one. I touched on this point earlier when I discussed how Brandy asked her children to walk her down the aisle and give her away during the ceremony. Depending on the maturity level of the children, allow them to have a REAL role if they'd like one.