Children in the Wedding Q & A: Including children in the wedding vows

Q.I am getting married for the first time.  My future husband has 3 children from his previous marriage and we would like to include them in some way during the ceremony.  Perhaps in the vows. They are 7,11, and 14 yrs. old. Do you have any ideas?   

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A. How to include children in a wedding is always a very personal decision.  What's appropriate depends on a number of factors, including the age of the children, the relationship between the children and the bride or groom, the personalities of the bride/groom/children, the formality of the wedding, etc.

With children the ages you mention, there will be no doubt that they will understand whatever you choose to do (a problem with very young   children),  however, they are at ages where they may or may not feel
comfortable with some types of involvement.  They also might each have different feelings about the whole issue.  So what you come up with will need to be acceptable to everyone in the family.  I know that's awkward, but I believe that in general, the children will be thankful later if you and your future husband really take their feelings into account in this.

I suggest that if you two have not talked to his kids about the subject, he (and you if your relationship with the children is good) should do so, to feel them out on what they might enjoy and what might make them uncomfortable.  If you or he are close to your minister, you might also ask them for suggestions. If they know the people involved, they might be able to make insightful suggestions.

I do also recommend you take the time to visit either your local library or bookstore.  There are a number of books which focus on vows of many types and for many circumstances.  I have seen several that include some sort of vow to/with children.  I am moving to a new house, so my copies
are in storage, but Weddings From the Heart, by Daphne Rose Kingma, I believe has some interesting ideas for involving children.   But any book on wedding vows should have an index or table of contents where you can quickly see if they have specific vows for children or not.

Another way you could consider acknowledging the children-- but without
making a big deal which might embarrass some of them-- is to choose an appropriate quote or short verse which talks about love and children, commitment, the future, family, etc.   Depending on the quote, you would
need to decide if it would be something you would say to them, he would say to them, you would both say, someone else (minister or other) would read for you directed to the kids.  Just another idea you could pursue.

I am attaching an excerpt from an article on my website about vow renewals.  It talks about involving children, and I think explains the options fairly well, although your situation is a wedding not a renewal.

I hope this helps.  Best wishes to all of you--

Sara L. Ambarian
author/creative consultant/custom bridal designer 
More wedding information at: 


How can couples involve their children and families in their renewal?

What is appropriate involvement for children or other family members is a very personal decision. Generally, when people ask about this, it is because their children are younger and still living at home. But the appropriate involvement of a 5 year old will be a lot different than for a 15 year old.

Mostly what you want to get across is the idea that you are not only reaffirming your commitment to one another, but to the whole family. Some couples do this in an actual vow to love and care for the children.
Others have the children stand with them during the ceremony and have the minister make special comments about the re-commitment to family.

You'll want to do not only what feels right to you, but what the *children* are comfortable with. When there is a range of ages, you may
need to tailor the physical involvement of each child to their age and personality-- and their preference. Very young children won't really understand what is happening to any deep degree; teenagers will likely have the poise and understanding to be able to do whatever you ask them to.  However, you should strive to allow the children some leeway in how-- and how much-- they participate. There will likely be a range of
feelings and reactions, and they'll depend a lot on age, your relationships with each child, etc. Certainly, in whatever "vow" you
make to them, all will be included--but if a 2 year old needs to sit with grandma, or one of the kids feels too embarrassed to 'stand up'
with you during the service, or whatever, I think they will thank you later if you "cut them some slack" now.

I've also seen renewals where other family members and friends pledge to support your marriage, just as you pledge to love and support each other. Planned and worded carefully, with a small and sincere group,
this can be really beautiful. However, for a larger gathering, or if  guests don't really mean it, it could be tacky.

Some people also give some sort of token-- pendant, watch, pin, etc.-- to their children to symbolize the day. This is also common in marriages between people with children from other marriages--like the "family medallion" which you can research on-line, if you're interested. I think it can sometimes come across with the wrong message if you don't choose and handle it carefully.

There are several good books which include ideas for a separate vow with/to children and others-- especially when the family is "blended" or there have been family problems. I believe one of the best is Weddings from the Heart by Daphne Rose Kingma. If I recall right, it covers a number of different vow situations, as well as giving ideas for personalizing the ceremony.

A selection of other related books can be found at your local library, too. If yours is a smaller branch library, ask the librarian what other titles might be available on inter-library loan through your main county library or library network. There are usually a lot of available books that are not on the shelves.



Choosing Your Bridal Party Q & A: What you need to know

Its our step by step guide to wedding to wedding attendants.  No matter the question, we've got an example or answer for you

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