*Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007. Here, the veteran planner is sharing some expert advice for free. She's sharing ways to involve kids in the wedding. *
Blended families are the "norm" rather than the exception to the rule nowadays.
At least half of the weddings we plan include merging families — brides and grooms with children from previous marriages — and it's not uncommon for my clients to ask for help finding a special way to incorporate children in a way that makes them feel like they are part of the actual marriage.
Of course it's lovely to have them as members of the wedding party, but that's not your only option:
Photo: Wedding in Vieques
1. Last week, we greeted a couple for their wedding with a specially-designed hopscotch board, above, that held significance to the bride, groom and the bride's daughter Grace. The game of hopscotch is a family joke, and this board designed by the bride reflected everything important to them. We had a blast drawing it for the big welcome surprise.
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2. Sometimes children can be organized to do a really special toast or performance at the wedding reception. I've seen dances and songs, and some stand-up comedy. Not only does it make a very special memory, but it's fun for them to practice and plan as a team. It's especially important for families blending large numbers of children of the same ages. Give them an opportunity to create a unified "blessing" on the marriage they can share with everyone.
3. Children can contribute to the wedding décor with DIY craft projects made ahead of the big day. They can help you create wedding favors, placecards and goodies for the welcome bags. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect — what matters is that they feel like they were part of making the big day happen. In one case, an eight-year-old son with pastry-chef ambitions was permitted to choose the cake design and flavor — then it was our job to execute his plan!
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4. My favorite family appeared on "Wedding Island" dressed in matching team t-shirts that reflected their new combined names — and with numbers that identified them by age. Mom and Dad were sporting matching shirts with "bride" and "groom" emblazoned on the backs. Absolutely the cutest family group we've ever had arrive.