MAKING A CHILD FEEL INCLUSIVE FROM PREVIOUS MARRIAGE

As a Wedding and Party Planner, I am asked regularly how to include children from a prior marriage in a new marriage, as well as in the wedding process. This is not easy but it can be done with some diplomacy and effort and become a memorable experience for both the new family and the child as well.

Planning a wedding is difficult enough; but, when it comes to a second marriage, the pressures are that much greater. Most brides don’t want a wedding that has anything to do with what happened in a first marriage. They want it to be their own. This is not always possible when there are children from a prior relationship. In these cases, I tell both the brides and the grooms that this is a way to cement a new family and bring you closer in your own way.

Recently, I had a client come to me with a very special situation. For her, this was a first marriage. For the groom, it was a second…and he had a son that was five at the time. My client wanted to include the son in the wedding as well as the entire process so he would feel included and the marriage would start off on the right foot as a family. So I told my client to ask her soon-to-be stepson for advice on the wedding. Since he already was asked to be the “best man”, she needed to come up with something else that would be very special for him as a job.

The truth is, at five, this can prove to be extremely challenging. Had the child been older, it would have been much easier; but my client took my advice to heart. She showed him pictures of dresses and told him about the food and especially, the elaborate candy table. He was very opinionated on the candy table! In the end, she shared a very special secret: what her wedding dress looked like! The child kept the secret until the wedding day and it became a very special bond between them, not to mention a family joke for a year as they both teased the groom about it!

As the wedding day drew closer, my client once again came to me with some concerns. Her wedding’s “best man” was under age and was very upset that he could not throw a bachelor party for his father. Although he was six by this time, there was still no way he could plan anything or pay for it. So my client and I put a plan into action.

After leaving her appointment with me, my client took her soon-to-be-stepson/best man out for lunch (at McDonald’s, of course) and talked to him about the challenges ahead. The first thing the child said was “we need a limo. Limos are cool!” So the plan was beginning to form. The bride called me and we arranged for a limo to come on a specific day and be charged to the bride’s credit card. I felt like a fairy godmother making a child’s wishes come true!

Once the limo was arranged, they then discussed a plan for the day. It had to be during the day since his bedtime was at eight o’clock. They arranged to rent a private room in a restaurant for lunch and again, that went on the bride’s credit card. As the wedding planner, it was my responsibility to arrange for a non-alcoholic limousine. I asked them to bring sparkling cider and champagne glasses for a toast – and I am happy to report that they did!

Then the final part of the plan was laid. The entire day was to be kept a secret. Invitations were sent out for the bachelor party through me, and they were told it was a secret. The best man was the host. No one was the wiser. As the day of the bachelor party drew closer it because more and more difficult to keep the secret – but I am happy to report that both my client and the best man did.

At the appropriate time, he told his dad he wanted to go for a walk and when leaving the house, found, to his surprise, a limo filled with his friends and family (all men, of course) waiting for him at the curb. The excitement and the pride shared by father and son was so exciting to be a part of; an event never to be forgotten.

As a Wedding and Party Planner, I am often tasked with the little details that make a big difference to the client as well as the event. In this instance, and to this day, the client is still talking about how important and special it was that I helped find ways to include a child from a former marriage in a second one. In fact, other than the ceremony itself, it is my belief that this helped cement a whole new family, while making a child feel extremely important and special. What a mitzvah!