When a couple gets married, as much as it’s about them, their relationship and their future, it’s also the coming together of two families.
There are customary or traditional roles for the parents of the couple in a wedding ceremony and including siblings is becoming more common as well.
But when the couple getting married already have children, either from a previous relationship with other partners (step parents and children becoming a blended family) or together before they get married (biological parents), it stands to reason that they’re included and recognized during the wedding ceremony too.
Often, family relationships change when a couple gets married and children can feel that too. Recognizing this special and sometimes delicate transition publicly verbally or with a ritual in front of your family and friends also validates and honors their importance and emotions in a respectful way.
Many blended families use a unity sand ritual to symbolize the coming together of the different members of the new family unit (just like the different colored grains of sand are combined, never to be separated again).
While the sand ceremony or ritual is wonderfully inclusive and symbolic, it has been DONE (and done and done again!).
And unity candle rituals do not work at an outdoor wedding ceremony - please, TRUST ME.
So we need some new, relevant and maybe less ketch (?) ways to include children (and sometimes other family members too) in a blended family wedding ceremony and I think these ideas are unique and fun.
Some are lighthearted and just for laughs and others can be used to create a keepsake, heirloom or memento that can be looked back on, cherished and admired for many years to come.
These ideas can also be adapted to incorporate other items or values that your blended family prioritize or love.
Get creative and create something new together!
Family Unity Painting Ritual
Prior to the ceremony, painter’s tape is used to mask off the outline of a heart on a stretched white canvas.
During the wedding ceremony, after the exchange of rings, each member of the blended family comes to the front, picks up their tomato sauce-type bottle of acrylic paint (containing a different color for every member of the family) and squirts the paint onto the canvas in whichever way they want.
This is symbolic of the diversity and unity of a family, how every member needs to be recognized for their special talents and how the sum of the parts is greater than the individual.
Once the paint dries (1-2 weeks depending on the weather) carefully remove the masking tape and frame the canvas to display in your family home.
Cairn Stone Building Ceremony
From early civilization, rock cairns have been used for practical and symbolic purposes. The rock sculptures were built by those who had been down a path, to mark the way for others to follow.
They were used as directional markers, showing the follower the way home or sometimes, to safety.
Rock cairns are also a symbol of the spirit of friendship and hope, and the values of strength and solidarity.
The building of a rock cairn by family members during a wedding ceremony symbolizes the creation of a strong foundation, a unique family identity and the blending of two families.
It would also look great as a garden sculpture for many years to come.
Lolly/Candy Blending Unity Family Ritual
In a fun take on the unity sand ritual, small jars, labelled with each family member’s name, holds their favorite lolly, candy, sweet (or whatever you want to call them). This recognises how every family member has their own likes, talents, wishes and hopes and their chosen lolly represents those gifts and differences.
A larger family unity lolly jar is labelled with either the last name that the family will be taking, or simply the word “family” or “us”.
As each family member is asked in turn to come to the front of the ceremony space or altar to pour their favorite lolly into the family lolly jar.
The act of layering the candy is also a metaphor for how the individual members of the blended family bring their own unique flavor and strength to the group.
When the family member is asked to come forward to combine their lolly into the ‘us’ or ‘family’ jar it’s symbolic of the compromises that need to be made, but also how life is all the more sweet and exciting when families come together and share what they have with each other. And it's delicious too!
Family Sign Ritual
With this ritual, each family member is given a single letter from the word, “Family,” which they carry into the ceremony.
When each person arrives at the end of the aisle, they place their letter in the appropriate spot on a table at the front of the ceremony space.
This is a simple and moving gesture and only requires a minimal level of creativity and choreography which can be great for younger kids.
Unity Puzzle Board Ritual
Each member of a family has their own unique personality, talents and wishes for the future. Everyone is different, but everyone contributes to the whole; a separate but crucial piece of the family puzzle. Each member of the family is just as important as the next and when a piece is missing, the whole is not balanced.
This understanding of family dynamics is what makes a family puzzle ritual in a wedding ceremony such a fitting (pardon the pun) inclusion.
Generally, towards the end of a wedding ceremony, each family member brings forward their piece of the puzzle in turn and fits it together.
Sometimes puzzle pieces need to be worked a little to fit into place (another wonderful metaphor for the ups and downs of blended family life), but when they are where they should be, locked together with the other pieces - side by side - the whole is more beautiful and strong than any single piece on its own.
Fingerprint Jewelry Gift Presentation
Owning a special piece of jewelry that contains the fingerprints of all family members is a tangible way to feel close and united every day.
Although technically, the casting of the fingerprints and the creation of the unique jewelry piece can't usually occur during the wedding ceremony itself, the presentation of it, the symbolism and story behind it CAN be relayed to your guests and it’s just as powerful.