Missed part one? Read it here.
BFWs (blended family weddings) demand flexibility from everyone involved. If you have a picture-perfect day in mind, you might be slightly let down, because the mix of emotions for the youngest members of the wedding party aren’t easy to manage. Remember that the kids are, in fact, in the wedding party (not guests), and should be party of all of the days events–integral to them, actually.
The Big Day
BFWs tend to be simpler thaan prior weddings (although not always). Usually the couple is in a demanding stage of life: they have jobs, children and debt. The couples I interviewed also looked back at their elaborate first weddings and snicker about their naivety. A fancy wedding does not a good marriage make, and I’m proof. The focus is instead on celebrating togetherness.
There are so many ways to get this right. One couple shared with me that their children walked into the church in front of them, and the oldest said the prayer to initiate the ceremony. (This wasn’t forced–he volunteered.)
At Heather Hetchler’s wedding, her two sons walked her down the aisle. Her father, who was at the wedding and wholly supportive, had walked her down the aisle when she married her first husband, so this time it was her boys’ turn.
The family also incorporated a sand ceremony. That’s when each member of the family pours their own color of sand into a large glass vase one at a time. Her new husband poured his sand, “I then poured my sand and then we went in order from oldest to youngest. We have that jar of sand proudly displayed in our home. The sand is in layers and it is a beautiful reminder that we are all together yet all individuals,” she says.
Another creative touch: Instead of a guest book, Heather purchased a large frame and matte. Her oldest stepdaughter drew a picture of the family that they intended to replace with a wedding photo, and guests were asked to sign the matte. They never did remove the picture her stepdaughter drew because it was special to them, and the family loves reading the well wishes from family and friends that hang on their wall.
When the Browns were announced at the end of their ceremony, Ken and Lauren shared their first kiss and then took the girls from their parents. The officiant introduced them as “The Brown Party of Four” instead of the typical “Mr. and Mrs. Brown.” Lauren says it was important to her to make the conscious choice to join together as a family.
All the families I spoke with emphasized simplicity and flexibility. When you have a BFW, you are still on parenting duty, so you have to leave room for the unexpected. When the Brown’s daughter Addison wanted to join in for the couple’s first dance, she was welcomed. And this is so much like blended family life: your heart is always open to the children you have brought into your union, and you have to be ready for them to weave in and out of your plans at will.
Bottom Line: It is helpful for the children to have something to do during the wedding. This gives them something to focus on and builds positive memories. Their involvement also most truthfully represents your real life.