Marriage is a monumental event in the lives of two people. A public sign of love and dedication, it is the beginning of a new life as husband and wife. If you are a divorced father, you may be concerned about how best to involve your children in your upcoming wedding. In this installment of Divorce at a Wedding, we discuss how best to include your children in the special day.
A remarriage should never be a sudden surprise to your children. It is important they get to know your new significant other long before there is any talk of marriage. You do not need to introduce every person you date to your children. However, once a relationship becomes serious it is important to involve your children.
Start by talking with them about how important this new person is in your life. Plan events so that your children can spend time with your girlfriend and be comfortable around her. This is often referred to as ‘dating the children’ and helps your children and your girlfriend build bonds. Having a regularly scheduled event, such as Tuesday night dinner helps create a routine and build a foundation for the new family unit.
As your relationship builds toward marriage, keep talking to your children and involving them. Laying a good foundation early will help your children understand the new circumstances. Instead of shock or surprise, your children will see remarriage as the next step in your relationship with someone they know and trust.
Involve your Children in the Planning
Letting your children take part in the wedding planning helps them feel part of the event. Depending on the age of the children, their contribution may be limited. Still, even younger children can help choose between invitation styles or decoration colors. If appropriate, a daughter may even accompany the new bride as she shops for the wedding dress.
Making something to be used during the wedding is also a great way for children to feel included. Each child can make a special item to be worn by the bride and groom. As well, the new family can make something together for use in the ceremony. Giving these hand made items a special place in the event helps your children feel part of the big day.
Include your Children in the Ceremony
The most direct way to include your children in your marriage is to have them take part in the ceremony. This makes the big day an event you and children share together. Here are several ways your children can share in the ceremony.
- Wedding Party: The traditional classic is to have your children be part of the wedding party. Ring bearer or flower child is a common choice for young children. If your children are older, you may wish to have them serve as groomsmen or bridesmaids.
- Family Vows: When family vows are used in a ceremony, you and your bride vow to love and take care of your children as a family. This allows you to make a very public dedication to your children that your relationship has not changed and you love them. Your bride also acknowledges that she is marrying a family and pledges to love you and your children.
- Candle Ceremonies: If your ceremony includes a candle lighting, it can be a perfect way to include your children. Having you and your bride light a family candle with your children provides powerful symbolism of your new life together.
If your Children Refuse
Despite your best preparation and attempts at inclusion, your children may refuse to be part of your wedding. If such a situation develops, it is important to show empathy for their feelings. Many children hold out hope that their parents will get back together. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure your children that you are not trying to replace their mother and that your relationship with them will not change. Some children may change their minds after several heart to heart talks.
If your child remains steadfast and continues to refuse to take part, there is no point in forcing the issue. Older children especially will appreciate you respecting their decision. When the actual day of the wedding arrives, allow your child to stay with your ex-wife or another family member.
While it may be difficult not to have your children present on your wedding day, it is just the start of your life with your bride. There will be ample opportunity after the wedding for your spouse and your children to continue building bonds as a family.
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