When asked what kind of wedding we were planning, “non-traditional” wasn’t just a concept—it was a given. We had already been through our own separate divorces, moved in together, blended families, signed a mortgage, and welcomed our (now nineteen-month-old) daughter into the world, all before meeting at the altar. We knew our wedding would be a blended family affair, but we had no idea where to start since neither one of us had ever attended a wedding for a couple with children. So we intentionally created opportunities to reimagine the traditional wedding by including our children whenever possible.
how to create a heartfelt blended family wedding
Here are ten ways we made our wedding an authentic and heartfelt blended family affair:
1. The Marriage of Our Parents
We’re grown adults who footed the bill ourselves, so we let our kids play the host. For example, our invitations stated: “We invite you to celebrate the marriage of our parents…” Our program title was “Becoming a Family.” For party favors, the kids passed out copies of their favorite bedtime story, Pete at the Beach.
2. DIT (Do-It-Together)
Project #1: Kid-designed table numbers and signs
We eschewed overpriced paper products and instead opted for kid creations using art supplies and materials found around the house.
Project #2: Handcrafted Gifts
The kids collected shells and sea glass that were used by the mother of the bride to craft jewelry worn by the bride, bridesmaids, mothers, and officiant.
Other DIT projects: Homemade wedding cake, a collection of handcrafted quilts, happy hour food, and flower arrangements.
3. Redefining the Processional
The mother of the bride was escorted by the stepfather of the groom, and the father of the groom was escorted by the stepmother of the groom. As for our kids, our eldest daughter was Flower Power, our younger son was Dog-Bearer, our older son was Baby-Bearer, and our youngest (seven months old at the time) missed the entire ceremony due to a poorly (perfectly?) timed nap.
4. Call For Support
Instead of asking “Who gives this bride in marriage?” we did a call for support.
Officiant: Do you commit to holding up this family during the good and bad, and helping them to raise their children with light and love?
Audience: We do!
5. We Dos
Knowing that we were entering into a marriage already with children, we wanted to call out our commitment to each other as co-parents and members of a blended family. To do so, we composed our own vows plus a simple version of the “I Do”:
…for life, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in conflict and tranquility, in poverty and in comfort, and in all the complexities of life that you will face together as a unique family, from this day forward?
6. Family Vows and Unity Ritual
After our individual vows, we delivered vows to the older three kids.
I want you to know how lucky I feel every day just knowing you are in my life. You are the energy that flows through my veins. You inspire me and I can’t imagine the man that I would have become without you in my life. Thank you for accepting Kendra into our world. There’s nobody who knows more than you how she has been there for us all. You are amazing children and honorable human beings that I am proud to call mine. And I know you will continue to care for Rebel, by loving her and keeping her safe. I am excited about our family and eagerly look forward to the future we will create together. I love you.
I promise always to treat you with love and respect. I promise to nurture and grow my relationship with each of you and to be there for you the best I can. I promise to support you in your relationships with both your mother and your father. And I hope that together we may continue to build and strengthen our own. Most of all, I promise always to treat your father with love and respect and to model for you a healthy, loving, and supportive relationship in the belief that one day you too will find such happiness in love.
(These vows were inspired by this Offbeat Bride article on “Wedding Vows for Blended Families.”)
As “Stand By Me” played and the audience sang along, we combined six bottles of sand to symbolize the blending of our families into one. The shadow box is now displayed in our living room as a reminder of how we came together that day.
7. Baby Photos
We expanded the baby photo idea to include photos of our whole family. The kids especially got a kick out of my husband’s mullet featured in his high school varsity football photo.
8. A Grand Family Entrance
For the grand entrance, we decided to enter as a new family. The emcee announced, “Please welcome the new family!” It was a sweet moment to enter the reception as a family; it was an even sweeter moment to catch our breaths backstage, just the six of us, while waiting for our cue.
9. The Kids’ Table
Instead of a sweetheart table, we sat our children at the head table surrounded by strategically placed godparents, aunties, and uncles. The kids loved being in the center of everything and we loved being able to easily pass around the baby.
10. The Family Photo Op
We took advantage of the wedding photographer’s presence to do a family photo session.
Just like life, everything won’t go as planned. But with enough luck and effort, your wedding will be imperfectly perfect… just like your blended family.