Including children in a Family Ceremony

Recently I had the blessing of officiating at the wedding ceremony of the son of my dearest friend – my godson. I was excited to write the ceremony with the couple and offered a beautiful service that incorporated both their values, and those of their families. While the ceremony was simple, it was inclusive and welcoming to everyone present.

Sometimes, in all the excitement and details of planning we forget that a wedding is a rite of passage for the couple and often a change of status for each member of the family. Everyone involved seems to reflect upon their own relationships – and the relationship with the couple. The change may go from Dad to Father-in-law, sister gains a Brother-in-law and overall there is a huge expansion of the extended family. This is exciting, but there is also an inherent stress, as you would expect with any change. It is important to address this anxiety and excitement. A skilled celebrant can bring this change into the words of the ceremony, using language that is alive to all those participating.

An example of using inclusive language in my godson’s ceremony was the hand fasting, which we sealed with a blessing from both mothers. The couple comes from practicing Christian families, with strong and different beliefs. In the writing of the ceremony the couple chose to use language that was non-religious however out of respect for their parents religious beliefs they asked their Mom’s to offer a blessing from their hearts with the language that was familiar to them. The moms used very typical Christian blessings. As their Celebrant I helped this process by editing their own words so these aligned with the ceremony, and respected both the traditions of the families and the beliefs of the couple.

This hand fasting/blessing allowed the ceremony to reach across the generations, which is deeply important when creating an inclusive ceremony. In another ritual, a candle was lit for the deceased grandfather who was inspirational to the groom, and wanted him to marry. A simple gesture again to acknowledge that a wedding is not merely two people getting hitched but rather it involves both the past and future generations. The friends and peers of the couple were invited to assist in a ring warming, a simple ritual that acknowledged their place in the couples heart. Finally the youngest were made welcome as they walked down the aisle bearing flower petals and the precious rings.

As a celebrant, with Modern Celebrant, I am beyond excited to help couples design inclusive, personal ceremonies that bring a deep healing to everyone present.

— Lisa Hartley for Modern Celebrant

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