Weddings are wonderful occasions to begin with, but they take on an added layer of meaning when the couple either have children together or from previous relationships. For them, the day isn't just about becoming spouses; it's about becoming a family. With that in mind, many couples may want to include their children in their wedding vows as a part of the ceremony.
There are many other ways to incorporate kids into a wedding, of course: putting them into the bridal party; giving them special jobs such as holding the guest book or helping guests find their table at the reception; having a parent/child dance to a favorite song; letting them give a speech. But making them a part of the vows is an even more significant gesture. It affirms the parents' commitment to the family — be it established or blended — and in many cases, allows the children to do the same. In the case of blended families, it can also help ease any insecurities the children may have about the new stepparent(s) and their place in the new household. And for vow renewals, it acknowledges the part that the children have and will continue to play in the marriage.
Below are a few of the sweetest suggestions for vows that include a couple's children. If you opt to use any of them, be sure to have extra tissues handy at the ceremony; between you and your guests, it's guaranteed that there won't be a dry eye in the place.
1. Write The Children Into Your Own Vows
This is a good option for couples with a baby or very young child who can't really participate in the wedding. Mention your child's name in your vows to each other, and declare your promise to raise them with love and joy.
2. Have Separate Vows For The Kids
Frank Harlan, a wedding officiant interviewed by Offbeat Bride, offered his vow ritual for blended families: After having the couple say a few loving words to each child, the entire family vows to love and respect one another. Then the children make three promises to the family, usually written by the parents. They can be serious ("Do you promise to be the best person you can be?"), funny ("Do you promise not to put the orange juice back in the fridge if it's empty?"), or a little of both.
3. Give Them Jewelry
Couples wear rings as a symbol of their commitment, so why not include the kids in the tradition? After the rings are blessed and exchanged, you can give each child a pendant, bracelet, pin, or other piece of jewelry with a meaningful design or message. The Family Medallion was created especially for blended families, and the design — three linked circles —represents the two parents and their children. Or go with a custom-made piece like this bracelet from Etsy, which features two discs saying, "I love you" and "Your daddy made us family; you made us friends."
4. Include A Family Unity Candle
As The Knot explained, the unity candle ceremony at weddings represents the joining of the two families. Typically, the mothers of the bride and groom light individual candles, which the couple then use to light one larger candle in the center. For a wedding with children, you could tweak the tradition by giving each child a candle to be lit by the parents (with supervision for the smaller ones, of course), then having everyone light the central pillar candle. Etsy has a wide variety of family unity candle sets, many of which can be personalized with each person's name.
Other (less flammable) options are having each child place a flower in a vase to make a bouquet, or making a sand vase with each family member pouring in a different color of sand.
5. Let Them Write Your Vows
If the children are old enough, you could invite them to either help you write your vows or let them do the whole job themselves. Talk to them about what the vows mean and what promises they think are important for a couple with children to make. (You'll probably want to look over the finished product before the wedding, just to make sure you won't be asked to promise never to tell your stepkids to clean their rooms.)
6. Acknowledge Their Feelings
Florida wedding planner Weddings by Christina wisely acknowledged that children entering blended families may feel conflicted or reluctant about participating in the wedding. Her advice: Don't force or bribe a child to take part if they don't want to; instead, have the stepparent emphasize in the vows that they will love and honor them and encourage their dreams. If the child is coming from a first marriage that involved abuse or neglect, the stepparent could vow: "I promise to provide a safe, loving, and supportive home for you and your (parent)."
7. Include References Special To Your Family
If you and the kids have favorite books, movies, or other references that make you feel closer to one another, you can incorporate them into the vows for an even more personal touch. For example: "Devyn and I are definitely Ravenclaws, and you and Alana are Gryffindors, but together our two houses stand strong against any dark forces that may come our way!"