All weddings are about building a family, but this goes double when the bride, groom, or both have children from a previous relationship.

Your decision to remarry affects your children in a huge way, since they’ll now be part of a new family structure. Including your children in the wedding planning, ceremony, and reception can help ease the transition into this new arrangement. It’s important to remember, however, that because kids often have mixed feelings about seeing their mother or father marry someone new, you should leave it up to your children themselves to decide how much they want to be involved in the various aspects of the wedding.

Laying the groundwork

Here are some suggestions on how to help the transition go smoothly.

Talking to Family
  • Inform your children of the engagement before telling anyone else, including your parents–and especially before telling your ex-spouse(s).
  • Speak with your children alone, without their future stepparent present. This way, the children will feel more comfortable expressing any concerns and asking questions.
  • Include your children in some of the time you spend with your fiancé/fiancée, to give them a chance to get to know one another better.
  • Assure your children of your love for them. Let them know that although your family situation is going to change, they are always going to be a major part of it.

Involving your children in the wedding

Here are some popular ways for children to participate in a second wedding.

Planning the wedding
  • Helping the parent select his or her wedding outfit (a daughter might help her mother choose her bridal gown, for example)
  • Picking out their own outfits to wear at the wedding
  • Giving suggestions for the flavor of the wedding cake
  • Helping the couple select family items on their gift registry
At the ceremony
  • Serving as a junior bridesmaid or usher or, for younger children, a flower girl or ring bearer

  • Doing a reading during the service (younger children could read a very short poem)
  • Handing out ceremony programs to guests as they arrive
At the reception
  • Watching over the signing of the guest book when guests first arrive
  • Handing out party favors
  • Joining in the first dance partway through