We polled our readers, along with wedding planning professionals, for ideas on how to include children and soon-to-be-stepchildren in blended family weddings.
“For stepchildren, it’s key to honor and acknowledge the new family structure that is being built because of this marriage,” shares Renee Dalo, owner of Moxie Bright Events in Los Angeles. “I’ve had couples say vows to their kids or exchange simple rings or other jewelry, and it’s always such a meaningful moment.”
As a wedding planner and designer, Dalo urges, “If you have kids involved in your ceremony, absolutely have them at the rehearsal. But also know that rehearsing in an empty room is very different than walking down an aisle with 200 faces turned towards you. Never force a child down the aisle. If they don’t want to do it in the moment of truth, keep it moving right along.”
Nearly half of all women in America are navigating a step-relationship in some form, with 44% having a stepchild, stepparent, or step or half sibling, and it’s becoming more common for brides to include these family member in wedding ceremonies. We polled our readers, along with wedding planning professionals, for ideas on how to include children and soon-to-be-stepchildren in blended family weddings.
HAIR & MAKEUP
We all know that getting ready is the best part of any party. If your child is old enough, invite them to join you for a real-life Cinderella’s castle moment. Jessica Kirby of Fabulous Fete, a Dallas-based wedding and event design company, shares how one bride invited her 10-year-old soon-to-be stepdaughter to join her and the bridal party during hair and makeup. “Later, she and her daddy shared a dance to Taylor Swift, and it was the sweetest!”
A WALK DOWN THE AISLE
More and more brides are choosing to have older children be an integral part of the wedding ceremony. Stepmom Katy Tibbets Tolitano asked her now-bonus son, Logan, to walk her down the aisle, while his sister Autumn served as both flower girl and maid of honor. “They were our only two attendants.”
FLOWER GIRL & RING BEARER
Involving young children, even in the simplest ways, can set the tone for your blended family dynamic. As stepdaughter Leah Outten explains, “I was the flower girl in my dad and stepmom’s wedding. She always included me from day one, counted me as one her children, and always will. She’s a second mom to me and dear to my heart.”
EXCHANGE FAMILY VOWS
Raise contributor Halley Dean included her son Lucas in the vow exchange: “Lucas walked me down the aisle and was the only person on the altar with us. After Joe and I exchanged vows, the three of us said family vows. We wanted Lucas to feel like the wedding was just as much about him as us.” Another reader invited her stepchildren to stand with her and her husband for special family vows. “We all cried the entire time, and kids told us how special it was to be included in that moment.”
MARK THE OCCASION WITH JEWELRY
Dean also gifted her son a piece of jewelry on her wedding day. “We gave Lucas a necklace with three intertwined circles to represent our new family.” There are so many beautiful options on Etsy, from necklaces to bracelets to rings, and even engraved tags and key chains.
SET A KIDS TABLE
“Make sure the kids have something to do,” adds Dalo. “Activity books at place settings are fun, as well as scavenger hunts using their phones to take photos (for older kids) and encouraging them to dance or get in the photo booth. Kids want to feel like they belong, and a wedding is a great place for that!”