Wedding Ceremony Ideas

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Creative ways to include our kids in the ceremony

Jan 2010

My fiance and I have 2 kids each from our previous marriages, and we would like our wedding ceremony to reflect that not only are we choosing each other, we are choosing each other's kids as well. We would welcome ideas for creating a wedding that is as inclusive as possible. The kids are 15 (boy), 12, 11, and 8 (girls). Some of the ideas that have occurred to us so far are: including them in the planning, giving them a role in the ceremony, getting each child a special piece of jewelry as a keepsake, milking the whole dress-up/pampering aspect of the wedding for the girls... We don't know yet whether there will be room in the budget for a honeymoon, but if so we're leaning towards a family trip.

But surely some of you in the BPN community have been in similar situations. Any ideas about how to make the day joyful and inclusive for kids in this age group? FWIW, we're looking at 25-40 attendees, nothing terribly formal, and an April date. Gettin' hitched

My mom was a wedding planner and I worked with her on and off for many years. A great way to include your kids would be to have them walk you each down the aisle - since you each have 2 kids, this would work out quite well. They could then remain standing beside each of you as your attendants. I've also seen combined families do various candle lighting ceremonies immediately after the ceremony. There are variations, one being having 7 candles set up, each lighting one (3 on a side) and then all of you coming toghter to light the bigger or taller center candle. The officiant can also include a family joining in the service along with the marriage joining. Whatever you do, i recommend that all the kids be fully on board in participating in a public ceremony of any kind, the last thing you want is a disgruntled or forced participant. Congratulations. anon

When my husband and I married a few years ago we included my 12 year old son in the ceremony and gave him a ring. My husband promised to help me care for and raise my son and it was fairly moving. Other than this point in the wedding, my son stood off to the side as though he were my husband's best man. We actually didn't have any honor attendants.

In your case this would make for quite a crowd at the altar, so I'd suggest having the kids sit in the front row, together, if possible, and have them stand at the altar only for the section of the ceremony involving them, give them rings, group hug, then have 'em sit down and get on with the vows. They can help to write the section of the vows that involve them, if they want. And if any are interested in helping with the flowers or whatever, fine.

We bought my son a new blazer and slacks, shirt and tie for the occasion. Pricey, but he also wore them to his middle school graduation and a few other occasions before he outgrew them.

If you would like to know how our vows worked, I'd be glad to send you a copy. Dianna

Congratulations! When I married my second husband I had two young teens. We had a wedding at home with all our friends and family. One of my kids was the witness, and he signed the marriage certificate. The other kid played a simple piano piece before the ceremony. We rented tuxes - both of them were very excited about that! A lot of family came into town for the wedding, so my kids got to hang out with their cousins for a couple of days beforehand, and we had a big BBQ the day before the wedding, which was fun. After the wedding, my sisters and their kids stayed at our house while my husband and I took a short honeymoon and then when we came back, we all went to Camp Tuolumne together - 3 of my siblings, and all our kids. It was a lot of fun. In retrospect I do think the honeymoon was a good idea, so don't skip that! 12 years later

When we got married, my husband asked all his nephews to be his best men, and I asked his niece to be a bridesmaid. All were early to late teens, and they really enjoyed being included. Our niece is also a dancer and she performed one of her solo dances at the reception. We even had them sign the marriage certificate as witnesses. cl

We included all 12 of our combined nieces and nephews in our wedding because we love the energy kids bring to ceremonies.

1. All the kids had baskets of flowers and handed a flower to guests as they arrived (this avoided choosing one kid to be the flower girl).

2. All the kids (co-ed) got up from their aisle seats and formed a chain down the aisle from oldest to youngest to pass us our rings. (this avoided picking a ring bearer). The oldest's mom handed him the rings just before he stood up, they formed a line and handed the rings down the aisle until the youngest handed them to us. (one of the kids had to pee in during our garden ceremony and my sister directed him to a discrete bush-- he almost missed joining the ring chain, ran in with his zipper down and belt undone, but I said ''yeah! you made it!'' and it only made the event more delightful!)

3. We had an all kid table for dinner with their own menu of ''favorites''

4. Since kids don't sit at dinner as long as adults do, we hired an art teacher to come with a bag of fun supplies (and parents contributed things like hat boxes, shoe boxes, ribbons, cake decorations etc.). The kids went in their own side room where each created a ''wedding cake'' (with glue, paint, etc) Before we cut the real cake, they paraded their ''cakes'' thru the dinning room to much fanfare and applause.

Another community touch is that we had all the guests take a vow to support our marriage-- after we each said our ''I do'', the facilitator asked everyone to stand and asked ''Do you vow to support Mary and Doug in their commitment to each other?'' and all our friends and family shouted ''We do!'' Since your kids are becoming one family, might be a nice touch for them to have a ''We do!'' moment. mary

You have good ideas. A couple more:

Have each child do a reading at the ceremony. If you are religious, you can use passages which reflect this, and if you are not religious, there are others, such as a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit or poetry.

Light a unity candle together, or have the kids all light a unity candle together. In some ceremonies, the unity candle is lit by a representative of the bride's family and the groom's family (often the mother of the bride and mother of the groom) to signify the joining of families. Each person has an individual candle, and both candles are held to the wick of the Unity candle to light it together. Either use 4 candles (1 per kid) or use 2 candles with 2 kids holding onto each candle (if you're worried about the 8yo holding a candle by herself) L

I think they all, and particularly the girls, will get a kick out of being part of the ceremony. This can be traditional things like being flower girls or otherwise included in the procession/wedding party, but it could also include things like reading or saying something, or lighting candles or other rituals. You might get them involved in what they will wear or the flowers--it's wonderfully princess-y for little girls. If some or all of them don't say anything during the ceremony itself, they might want to make a toast afterwards. As for the planning, you might want to offer them a chance to come along for the cake tasting--one of the funnest parts of preparing for a wedding! I always find it incredibly moving to see kids involved in their parents' weddings, and you're lucky that yours are well beyond the uncontrollable toddler age. Have a great time!

Incorporating ritual into the wedding

April 2003

Hi there, I am getting married this summer and throughout this whole planning process i am feeling pretty disconnected from the ritual/rite of passage aspect to it. We are designing our own cerimony and i would love to here expiriences and ideas around incorporating some rituals that have have deeper significance than the typical wedding. We are also looking for ways that our children can particapate and feel included in the wedding. One more thing, i would like ideas for some (light, no sacrifices or anything...) rituals i can have for myself before the main event. I am not having brides maids and i wont be having a day of primping, but i would like to have some women friends and my sister particapate in something meaningfull to mark the transition in my life. Thanks cris

The book ''The Jewish Wedding Book'' had some nice ideas that could be altered slightly to be still meaningful and nondenominational. eg: instead of a mikvah (ritual bath) a bridal party 'dip' in the ocean, river, or hot spring. Instead of a quilted huppa (wedding canopy) friends could make a friendship quilt to wrap a couple in to symbolize their marriage at some point in the ceremony, etc. Also ask officiants as you interview them. anon

There is a tradition in Spain, where I come from, which I really like and I used at my own wedding. The bride asks her best male friend (it can be a family member such as a cousin or a brother if you prefer, although is not usually the father)to be her ''godfather''. The godfather then commits to composing a poem for the wedding day and comes to the bride's house before the ceremony. He offers her the flower bouquet that she will carry during the ceremony and reads his poem aloud (in front of the bride's family). Usually the poem celebrates either the brides'life or qualities, the friendship's history, the wedding that will take place or all of the above. Sometimes it is written as a humour piece, although more often it's quite heartfelt. It's a lovely moment. The godfather does not do any other thing during or after the ceremony. Congratulations and good luck ! Anon

For the pre-wedding rituals, I suggest you email Sondra Hall. She is an event planner with a business called ''Come to Your Senses.'' She specializes in planning events for women to come together and celebrate themselves through the use of a variety of senses. She could put something together for your group involving massage, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy -- whatever you're interested in. You can reach her at oaklandhalls [at] Or check out her website at Stephanie

Cris, Regarding rituals for your wedding and the days before, I would like to highly recommend a woman who does life coaching and counseling and brings a great deal of spirituality and ritual to these endeavors. Her name is Lily Kaplan and she is in Oakland. Her company is Soul Works. Her website is and her email address is lilymk [at] I know that you did not specifically ask for a recommendation for a consultant, but Lily is wonderful and has helped to design many weddings. She also performs wedding ceremonies.

For others on the list who might also be interested, in addition to one-on-one coaching Lily also leads dream circles and other workshops. She also leads groups to places such as Chaco Canyon and Joshua Tree. I just highly recommend her. margo

You wrote that you're searching for rituals with a deeper meaning than the typical wedding -- I wonder if you're familiar with the unity candle ritual. As I believe it is most commonly practiced, it works like this:

The mothers of both the bride and groom each light a candle to represent their families (love for their child, values they have passed on, etc.) Each mother uses this to light a candle for her child. During the ceremony, the bride and groom use their candles to light a single (usually larger) candle together, then extinguish their own. The symbolism, of course, is about joining two families and creating a new one. To me it's also about accepting the primacy of your couple/family needs over your individual needs.

Although this is not an original ritual for your wedding, it is certainly meaningful, and beautiful in its simplicity. It could easily be adapted to include your children. We still light the candle from our wedding on our aniversary as a reminder of the spiritual nature of our relationship.

Best wishes! Loralee