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Second Wedding Etiquette- Should I Include Children In Our Wedding?

Second Wedding Etiquette-  Should I Include Children In Our Wedding?

Second Wedding Etiquette- Should I Include Children In Our Wedding?

Marrying With Children

Advice Seeker :
Dear April Masini,

I'm planning my second marriage and I am concerned about family participation in the wedding. My fiancé and I each have three children of our own and aren't sure if we should include them all in the ceremony or not. On one hand we'd like to, but they don't get along extremely well and we don't want any problems. Do you have any advice?
Marrying with Children


April Masini's Advice :

Dear Marrying with Children,

The crucial factor on including children in the wedding is their age. Young children have a short attention span and are more likely to accept the new step-mom or step-dad easily or without much thought about the ramifications of the new family. Including young children in the wedding in a peripheral role like flower children, is a great idea.

Older children between the ages of 8 and 18 have a longer attention span and are able to stand up as best men and bridesmaids, however, they may have conflicted feelings about the wedding and the ramifications it has. They may feel defensive and protective of their biological parent who is not a part of this wedding. They may not like their new step-parent to-be. They may be contemplating a change of lifestyle that diminishes the one they currently have -- for instance they may be moving to a different neighborhood or they may have to share a room now with a step-sibling. They may not like their step-siblings and they may be jealous of their parent's new attentions to the new spouse and the new step-children.

Given all that, the key factors in including children in re-marriage are:

  1. Include them in some way. It doesn't have to be a starring role -- and in fact, it shouldn't be a starring role, but they should be offered inclusion.
  2. The children's role should not upstage or diminish the main event, and in case you've forgotten what it is, that is the union of two adults in a marriage.
  3. Children come before the bride and groom parents in this kind of wedding. Their inclusion should be prioritized as such.

Problems you may run up against:

Children and step-children may want to clamor for attention and think that it's their wedding. This is very hard for a new bride and step-mother to handle delicately. Keep in mind that it's your wedding -- not theirs. The last thing you want is to resent your step-children for your not keeping your boundaries when it comes to the wedding you want.

The honeymoon should be taken at a time when the children can vacation with their other parent. Allow the children to have a great time on their vacation so that you have a great time on your honeymoon. Don't take the children on your honeymoon with you. This is a BIG mistake.