I froze with anticipation and fear. Could this be a cruel joke? Maybe the little box contained earrings instead of the engagement ring I longed for.
A moment earlier, David had called over to me from the seventh tee—appropriately named “Triumph”—at Bell Bay Golf Course in Cape Breton. “Linda, can you grab me a ball from the sleeve?” As he approached the golf cart, I opened the three-pack, but I did not find any golf balls. Instead, there it was: a blue velvet box, potentially holding my dream-come-true, stared back at me.
Sensing that he had “got” me, he smiled, dropped to one knee, and asked me to be his wife. It was now safe to open the box.
And on April 24, 2004, we were married and lived happily ever after.
Well, we did get married but, as it turns out, courting, falling in love, and proving to him that I was ring-worthy was the easy part.
You see, in our case, two did not become one. Two became six in what is known today as “The Blended Family”. (Mini rant: I’m not a fan of the term “blended” to describe people. You can’t just throw us all in a Vitamix, add some milk and blueberries, and call us blended. We are not a smoothie!)
The second time around was different in almost every respect from both of our first weddings. Our kids were part of our love story and our wedding day was about celebrating the union of our families. The sparkles on my dress, the flavour of our cake, and the shade of the roses paled in comparison to the weight of the words we spoke and the emotions we felt during the ceremony and entire day.
And while we knew that a child-friendly, inclusive wedding would not guarantee a “Hallmark” family life, it did help to set the stage for our future relationships. We were becoming stepparents as well as spouses, and our children were gaining step-siblings.
Are you planning a wedding and wondering how you can appropriately include your or your spouse’s kids?
Here are a few ideas to spur your creativity:
Let Your Kids Invite the Guests
Incorporating your children’s names on the wedding invitations includes them from the get-go. Our invitations were worded in such a way that our kids were asking the guests to attend their parents’ wedding. This may not represent proper etiquette, but we felt so strongly that our marriage was about our family, we threw accepted protocol out the window.
Fill Your Wedding Party with Children
We wanted to recognize our kids with special roles, so our children were our entire wedding party. At my first wedding, my Dad had walked me down the aisle. This time around, my children’s support was most important. My sons escorted me. David’s daughter was my adorable Maid of Honour and David’s son acted as his Best Man.
Make Vows to Each Other . . . and to Your Kids
One of the highlights of a wedding is the exchanging of vows, and the promises we made to our children during our ceremony were equally important to those we made to each other. Bonus tip: After the wedding, frame your vows and keep them handy for future reference (trust me on this—some days you’ll need a reminder!).
Sow the Seeds of Unity
Plants need love and nurturing in order to thrive—just like your newly formed family. Have the kids decorate a terra cotta pot and a small metal watering can ahead of time (they can use paint, stickers—whatever they’re into). Choose an assortment of seeds (some flowers have significant meanings that can be woven into the ceremony). During the ceremony, each of you can press a variety of seeds into the soil and then pass around the embellished watering can to jointly nourish your patchwork family garden.
Present Your Kids with Keepsake Jewellery
Exchanging jewellery is not just reserved for the happy couple. I designed a special ring for David’s daughter that was set with a sapphire from a ring gifted to me by my father as a young girl, and we presented our sons with watches that had been engraved with personal messages.
Equip the Children with Cameras
Your kids will likely be meeting some of your spouse’s relatives and friends for the first time. We wanted to encourage our kids to mingle and involve them in the reception, so we assigned them each a camera to document the festivities (we used decent disposables). Prepare to be amused!
By planning a wedding celebration that involves the whole new family, you’re sure to create meaningful memories and a solid foundation upon which to grow.
P.S. Twelve years later and we are still not “blended” but we are a happy family unit ☺
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