My daughter was a big part of our wedding day.
She was such a big part of the day, in fact, that when I tried on my wedding dress the night before my walk down the aisle, I was greeted with the sound of my gown ripping completely down the side.
Did I forget to mention that I was pregnant at the time?
Although she caused me a bit of panic (and a rather large seamstress bill for an overnight emergency fix of said rip), I have never tried to hide the fact — from her or anyone else — that she was a part of our wedding. Although she is only six, she knows that she was in “mama’s tummy” at our wedding. It was important to both my husband and me that she feel loved and welcomed in what was our first day as a family of three.
But what if your children, for any number of possible reasons, come before the wedding day? Should brides and grooms include their children in the ceremony or should the day be all about the couple?
For bride Megan Bishop, it was important to her that her young son not be an active part of her wedding. After a rather complicated unplanned pregnancy, Megan was determined that her story would have a happy ending.
“We wanted the wedding to be about us, not our son,” she explains. “[Otherwise] the focus would not have been 100% on us … and we felt we deserved the day to be about just us.” Having had the good fortune to attend Megan’s wedding as a bridesmaid, I can attest that she definitely did deserve a beautiful day — and she certainly got one. Her wedding was one of the most gorgeous I have ever been to and it was a joy to see her dance with her new husband on the dance floor, their son carefully looked after by family members.
And there are no worries from Megan on any hurt feelings from her son. “I’ve already talked to [him] a little bit about how he was at our wedding and showed him pictures,” comments Megan. “He could care less!”
Another bride-to-be and mother of two who is currently planning her nuptials (and also happens to be named Meghan) believes strongly that her wedding day should not include the couple’s son or their older children from previous relationships. “I think it’s important to have the wedding focused on the couple only because everyday life with having kids is centered on the kids,” Meghan explains. “I love the idea of having such an intimate moment centered around our love for one another and celebrating who we are as a couple and how far we have come despite all of the obstacles we have faced as being single parents.”
Meghan was surprised to face some backlash on their decision to not include their children more prominently in the wedding. “I have been told by numerous people that not including our kids in every aspect of the wedding is selfish,” admits Meghan. “Some have even said that I’m ashamed of my kids because they aren’t included or that I will regret not having them participate.”
But Meghan feels the opposite. She feels that making the day about their love as a couple shows their commitment to each other first, and not just as parents. “We will be lighting a unity candle together which includes [the children], but the majority of the ceremony will be just the two of us,” Meghan explains. “The truth is, I wouldn’t be who I am today without them and my fiancé wouldn’t be the person I fell in love with if he didn’t have his son when we met. Without our kids, we would not have met, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have one day for ourselves when our entire relationship has been centered around our kids.”
For this bride, marriage is about the love that comes before all else. “Marriage is something that neither of us take lightly and we want people to know that we are getting married not because of the kids, but because we genuinely love one another,” she says.
On the other hand, Jacquelyn, a photographer from Florida, felt that it was crucial to include her infant son in the wedding celebrations. “It was important to have my son as a part of my wedding because he is the most important person to my husband and I,” she relates.
Jacquelyn’s fiancé carried their son, dressed in a tiny ring-bearer suit, down the aisle towards the woman they both loved. “[It] was very cute, except for when he saw me walking towards him with my dad, he started bawling,” laughs Jacquelyn.
And although she admits that there were some tricky parts to having their infant son be a part of their big day, (like the fact that he was exclusively breastfed and wouldn’t take a bottle, or that at bedtime, he only wanted his mom), she still feels it was the best decision for their family. “The best part about having him involved in the wedding is that we got to have our whole family together, and we were not going to hide the fact that we had a baby before marriage,” she says simply.
What do you think? Should couples with children include them as part of the ceremony or should it be an adults-only event?
Image via j&j brusie photography
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