It’s been six months since we celebrated the best day ever – our wedding. A day so full of joy and tears (I mean SO. MUCH. EMOTION.), loved ones, and dancing. I love to look back on that day and recall how much fun we all had. It was not perfect – there were plenty of things that didn’t go how we planned – but it was a true celebration of not only my husband’s and my marriage, but of our blending family.
My husband’s daughter was 4 when I first met her, when we first began a friendship that would become family. I fell in love with her right alongside her sweet daddy and it became clear as time passed that we were meant to be – all three of us. Having a child around to narrate your relationship, by the way, is a really good way to keep a sense of humor about things. Shortly before we got engaged, both of the grown-ups fully engulfed in that WILL HE PROPOSE-WILL SHE SAY YES, pre-engagement anxiety, she approached us chatting in the kitchen one day. In an exasperated tone, shaking her hands in the air at us theatrically, she exclaimed – “You two HAVE a crush on each other – just get married already!”
From the moment we got engaged, needless to say, she was thrilled. She kissed my ring (literally) on a practically daily basis. She immediately wanted to know what her dress would look like and then mine. We drew many pictures of the possibilities. When people think I had a short engagement (we took 6 months to plan), I laugh and say that we could NOT have waited any longer. The wedding planning was immediate, ongoing, and intense. We couldn’t have sustained that level of anticipation any longer!
Of course, being a female person, I had been anticipating and secret-Pinteresting my wedding for a long while leading up to this time. What became clearer as the time came though, was that we wanted it to be a celebration of our marriage, but also, of our family. From the beginning, while we had lots of great dates sans the munchkin, lots of time alone to fall in love – our girl was not to be forgotten and our trio was to be celebrated. Our wedding was also the launch party for our little family.
Here are some ways we went about making that happen, should you also find yourself faced with creating a day that celebrates every member of your blending family –
We let her pick her job. I was open to a lot of options and wanted e to have a special job that she was pumped about. Given that she was 6, she naturally chose flower girl. Now, we also had 3 nieces we wanted to include – so we set her apart; she was the “leader” of the flower girls. She had a special bouquet/wand, while her cousins spread petals. She also stood at the front with her dad as a part of the wedding party. Plus then I got to see her face when I walked down the aisle, which was 100% priceless.
Music is really important to all of us, so we made her a part of that, too. We sing “Over the Rainbow” every night – so that is what played while she walked down the aisle. We listened to the songs we used in the ceremony so much before the wedding that she was lip-syncing the entire time. She was an integral part of building the playlist for the reception. She also had a special dance with dad to their favorite song. As a result, despite the fact that she was completely exhausted by the time the reception started, she was queen of the dance floor right up until the last song.
In a way that never for a second compromised my dream, grown-up wedding, she was a part of everything. Our officiant knew and loved our girl like she knew and loved us, and did an AMAZING job of including her in the ceremony. Our planner set up a special tasting for the kids meal and a special kids’ dessert. She came with me to dress fittings and kept my dress secret by insisting to her dad that my dress was purple with feathers. She gave a toast she wrote herself at our rehearsal dinner. Though we did not use every idea she came up with (6 months is a looooong time), we listened and helped her adapt them to fit whenever possible, in a way that let her know her opinions were valued.
Now parents – the other two things I suggest are for your benefit (and your children’s, in the long run, though they won’t see it that way now): NAPS. The day of the wedding. Schedule some rest for the littles. We didn’t do this, and every child in our wedding, other than ours, was sound asleep an hour into the reception. Oops. Also, BABYSITTERS. We had them come around 9 and essentially wait around until children were tapped out so their parents could hand them off and then party as long as they wanted. It was perfect.
Leading up to the big day, I felt like we were already a family. I felt like not much could strengthen what was already a solid foundation. What I did not anticipate was how much our wedding would mean to e. I did not anticipate how it would solidify for her that we were a family and that I was not going anywhere. In a way, it would be impossible for me to capture in this post how the planning, ceremony, and celebration of it all made everything real for her. The running hug she gave me as soon as the ceremony was over will forever be my most cherished memory of that day.