Words Of Wedding Wisdom: KIDS AT WEDDINGS

Welcome to this series of articles based on my popular book, “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” … a few juicy extracts that you might like, to give you a taster of what the book can do to help make your wedding (or a friend or relative’s wedding) superbly successful.

This time, we look at…

Children

Kids can get bored and up to mischief during a wedding reception. A good idea is to arrange for some responsible adults to keep them entertained and under supervision so their parents can relax and enjoy the reception. If you can afford to hire a children’s entertainer that’s great, but two or three capable teenagers will probably do it just as well, and can take turns so they can participate in the wedding festivities too.

Invite or not?

This is a tricky one. Whether we like it or not weddings are not occasions that children particularly enjoy, because in their eyes the reception, particularly, is just a lot of grownups sitting and standing around eating, drinking and talking.

However for some parents of young children it may be difficult for them to find someone to care for them while the adults attend your wedding, especially if you’re all from the same community when most potential baby-sitting adults are fellow wedding guests.

No matter how much you may be pressurized about having children at your wedding, your decision needs to be based on your criteria, not those of others. If you can afford to invite them and have someone keep them entertained that’s great, but if you’re on a budget or are holding the reception in an unsuitable place, then you’re perfectly within your rights to exclude them.

Normally you specify on your wedding invitations just who within a family is invited by itemizing the names of each invitee. Some guests can be a bit bullet-proof here though, and bring the children along anyway. To avoid that and make things crystal clear you can include a line on your wedding invitations which says something like “we’re very sorry, but the ceremony and reception can’t accommodate children under the age of XX.”

Second / subsequent marriages

The issue of how to tackle the announcement of your wedding to your children from previous relationships is fairly well documented in other books and websites, and strictly speaking isn’t part of my remit in terms of “Wedding Worries.” However the backdrop provided by children’s attitudes towards future step-families can have a very strong influence on the wedding itself.

Many children harbor a secret or not-so-secret dream that their parents will one day get back together again. The fact that one parent is marrying someone else, therefore, shuts the lid on that particular dream. I haven’t been in that position myself but I understand from those who have, that the key here is to encourage such children to talk openly about their feelings. And that’s not rocket science; good, open communications usually do go a long way towards healing most rifts and resolving unhappy issues. It’s important, too, that you are aware of the fact that the children may be mourning the loss of that dream, even if they are very pleased at the thought of you marrying again. Be sensitive.

If your new partner is well known to and well liked by the children that makes it very much easier. If there are difficulties, ironically the wedding could actually help resolve them, provided that everyone pulls together and the children are deeply involved with the planning and the wedding itself. There’s nothing like shared excitement and active teamwork on a positive project to smooth over rough patches within family relationships. Also this can be a useful exercise to help future step-children from both sides to get to know each other better.

It’s important that you involve your children in the planning and the wedding whether there are any ill feelings or not. You can get them involved with the ceremony itself as attendants, and in many religious services you can be given away by an older child, have an older child as best man, best woman, or maid of honor. This helps them feel involved not only with the wedding, but also with the marriage, which can have helpful long-term consequences.

In some circumstances you can even involve children in the procedures, such as including family vows, or “parents and children” vows. Even if your wedding is very small and informal, you will probably be allowed to have your children stand with you while the ceremony is conducted.

You can ask them to perform readings during the ceremony, compose and read poems, and if they’re musical, have them play something either during the ceremony or at the reception.

Another good idea is to give each child a special “wedding gift” of value, like a piece of inscribed jewelry or silver objet d’art.

On the other hand, it’s probably unwise to push children into taking an active part in your wedding if they aren’t all that enthusiastic about it. You’ll soon find out just how far they want to be involved with some tactful questioning and open discussion.

What matters most is that the children know you and your partner want them to be as much a part of your wedding as they want to be. That really does help stop them feeling left out.

For all 174 pages of helpful tips and advice, grab your copy of “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” from Amazon (USA), Amazon (Canada), Amazon (UK) and all other Amazons.

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