“How do we include our children in the wedding?”
This is a question I hear from couples who are choosing to marry a second or third time and blend their families from prior marriages. It’s a simple question that can be handled mindfully and respectfully to children of any and all ages, from young ones to adults.
This colorful handfasting cord is an example of an answer I co-created with a merging family this spring:
After the ring exchange, I introduced the family unity ritual by saying:
“Before we close with the highly anticipated kiss, we are going to witness a Family Unity Ritual. This ritual further and symbolically affirms your pledges and the ring exchange, along with the participation of your whole family, who stands beside you during this ceremony. This is an adaptation of a handfasting, an ancient Celtic ritual wherefrom the saying “to tie the knot” came.
For this family version, each of you have chosen a color of ribbon to symbolize who you are, with six ribbons total. You will keep this handfasting cord in a visible place in your home, getting it out to renew vows or just fondly recall this day. The colors represent you as follows:
Kayla – yellow; Gracie – pink; Sydney – blue; Nick – green; Andy – red; and Michelle – white.
Please place your hands together now, Michelle and Andy. Each of your children will make a loop around your hands with the ribbons, saying a wish to you as they do. Please come forward and step in one at a time to place the ribbon gently . . . (Each child, from youngest to oldest, stepped in to gently wrap the ribbons one time around couples’ interwoven hands and speak their gratitude or good wishes to them. . .)
Celebrant: Thank you, good work! Now that you are ‘tied’ together in love, I will say a closing blessing on behalf of all your guests present, based upon your hopes for your future:
“Andy and Michelle, now that you have chosen to live in marriage as a family,
may you continue to enjoy the foundation of unconditional love you have built.
May you put each other first, finding time to laugh and cry with one another;
May you continue raising your children in a healthy and nurturing environment;
May you realize a life full of love, fun, travel and exploration!
And we wish that some day far, far into the future
You feel the contentment of looking into each other’s eyes,
Knowing fully the pure joy of living your dreams together!”
And with that, as the guests all rose to share a community pronouncement declaring the couple as “Mr. & Mrs”, the music played and all the kids processed out of the chapel with their Mom and Dad, plus helped them ring the chapel bells. It was a ceremony I will always hold dear in my heart, where everyone felt connected and SO joyful!