Children are built-in cute machines. If they are around and involved in anyway at your wedding cuteness could break out at any point and spread through the pews or chairs and infect all of your family and friends with smiles.
Kids are a great part of wedding photos. Look at your own family’s wedding photos. You might even find a picture of your parent as a flower girl or flower boy. Cute!
If they are the bride and groom’s children there are deeper emotional, psychological, and etc. etc. reasons to have them in the wedding. But also… cute! I’ve been to weddings where the bride, bridesmaid, or groom held their fussy child during the entire ceremony. Like I said, cute!
Children talk loudly and say things that make us laugh and think.
Children have relatively low dexterity which makes flower tossing, ring bearing, and sometimes even standing in suits and dresses super cute!
Some children take the occasion very seriously, so then when they trip, wipe their nose, or generally do something silly (because children are naturally silly) the contrast makes all of the adults remember… oh yeah, we’re a bunch of silly people inside and we’re here celebrating the silly and ridiculous love of those serious but silly people up there. Cute!
So, unless the child in question is an incredible terror there are more reasons to have them in the wedding than not.
If the bride has children… if the groom has children… if they both have children, or even if they have children together… the idea of family vows will come up. And it should. Family vows are a way to open up some space in the wedding for the children to be genuine participants in the momentousness of the occasion. But, tread carefully and make your vows simple and clear. Make your vows from your heart and from your head. Because, when a child becomes a genuine part of the momentousness of the occasion adults must become as authentic as possible.
You will have thought or felt some things along these lines as you considered the idea of getting married. You will have said to yourself “I’m not just marrying him/her, I’m marrying her kids too.” That’s not accurate, but it has a weird truthfulness to it. By marrying her you are becoming a caregiver, teacher, protector, etc. etc. etc. for her children. They are not an optional extra, they are part of the package. They are part of who she is, who she has been, and who she will be. Scary? Yep, but relax. People do this and scarier stuff all the time.
If you plan to make family vows part of your wedding the children might want to vow x, y, or z. They can say whatever they like and it will be cute as heck. But children’s vows are different than adults’ vows. Do not let the children be burdened by what they perceive to be promises they will have to keep and allegiances they are making and will have to maintain. No, there are no promises they need to keep or feelings they need to have. The important part of family vows is what the parents say.
Believe me, I’ve got like, so many awesome ideas for family vows, but I’d rather hear from you. Please share about a time when you saw family vows done well by commenting below. If you have witnessed family vows go terribly wrong, please share that too. You might help the rest of us avoid the same mistakes. Maybe you’re considering using family vows, why is it important to you? What might you say? If you’ve already used them, please share about your experience with them. How did family vows affect the wedding and life after the wedding? What did you vow?
You’re all grown up, or at least you pretend to be and finally you’re in a position to make some of your own gosh-darn decisions for your own gosh-darn self. You look out with a mean eye and a raised eyebrow, “Bring it on world, gimme a decision… set it up I’ll knock it on its…” Unfortunately, the world heard you beating your chest, slapping the waves, and taunting the sea. So, voila! A big decision for you.
You can’t go left, you can’t go right, the only way is through. Nothing happens next except through this decision first. Suddenly, you don’t feel so big. You want advice and you seek it out.
One person tells you what to do and you think, “Yeah, that’s what you would do. But what should I do?!” You move on to the next person. This person doesn’t even give you any advice, they just tell you a story from their own life that has vague similarities to your own. The next person you talk to declines to comment, telling you, “It’s your decision to make” and maybe they throw in the old, “I’ll support you no matter what you decide.” You’re like, “I gosh-darn hope so! Why would you even bring that up?!”
You’re going to get advice you don’t like and won’t follow, sympathy from those who care about you, and support from those who love you. But, you are stuck making your own gosh-darn decisions for your own gosh-darn self. And no matter what decision you make it will feel uncomfortable, dangerous, arbitrary, and earth-shattering, because that’s what it feels like when you take the reigns of your life, make your own gosh-darn decisions, and ride off into the sunset… or sunrise… or maybe you want to ride out at high noon… I’ll support you whichever you decide. It’s no one else’s decision to make.
To change your name(s) or not to change your name(s) that is just one question. But, it is not the question today. Instead, take a look in the box… to the left. That’s the box for your “first name.”
There are at least 7 people who I have known for at least 10 years, all of whom have real names that their families gave them when they were born. I don’t know any of those names. I only know their nicknames. It’s been 10 years and I think it’s too late to ask, but also I wonder if it matters.
On your wedding day you might think it matters. You might be convinced either by yourself, your family, or by the magnitude of the event itself… you might be convinced to change your name. You might avoid Jo and instead choose Josephine or skip Reggie in favor of Reginald. Then again you might just choose Big Papa instead of… whatever his family thinks his name is.
In the end it doesn’t matter what you choose. Only the officiant will remember messing up your chosen name. Everyone there knows who is in love with whom and who will be with whom forever. It’s pretty hard to hear through tears of joy anyway.
Eric Clapton sang about “the sunshine of your love.” Shakespeare let slip from Romeo’s lips a mouthful of morning metaphor when he wrote, “…it is the east, and Juliet the sun.” Or something along those lines.
Cliché after cliché stack up and spill over the sides of the metaphor bin, like VHS tapes at gas stations in the middle of nowhere. You can have 4 for a dollar. “That’s okay, I think I already have a copy of Pretty Woman.” 12 for a dollar… “okay, take ’em they’re all yours we’re just going to through them away.”
But these frequently flung phrases are flung so freely because they make visible or taste-able or hear-able the invisible emotional and psychological transformation that happens when you love and are loved.
So, go ahead and get married as the sun rises. And don’t be afraid to say you didn’t even know it was dark until you met the light of your life. And go ahead and say that you didn’t even know you were cold until the radiance of your beloved’s love warmed your skin. I’d love to be there for that.
Churches are pretty places. Most of them are pretty places anyway. However, churches are also pretty religious places. Most of them anyway. So when you’re deciding where you are going to tie your strings into a knot with your beloved you’ll probably be encountering what has become a classic contemporary conflict between religion and aesthetics when it comes to the architecture of your wedding.
It used to be the case that no one was really allowed to go into God’s “House.” It just wasn’t safe. They used to tie a rope around the priests just in case encountering God literally killed them. And that was when it was still just a tent.
It is currently the case that many people connect with God through experiences in the natural world. We’re talking about hiking. We’re talking about rivers in the evening and dry mouthed, sweaty sleeping bags, and cooing birds in the morning.
If the last 15 years has taught us anything it’s that it can be just as ugly and just as beautiful in a church as it is outside.
Damned if you do? Damned if you don’t?
I don’t think so. The real question is what it means to you and to your beloved that you are getting married in this place in the world at this time in your lives. And, you don’t have to figure out the answer to that question on your own.