When I was a child, years before cell phones became attached to our hands, a camera was usually only taken out during the holidays or when we took family vacations. If I pull out one of my childhood photo albums, it is filled with pages of photos of my family on vacation either at Disney, on a road trip, at the beach or even camping. My memories of these vacations are a bit fuzzy, but the one thing that still resonates is how much fun I had and how much closer our family seemed to be when we were traveling.
This common feeling of family bonding during a vacation could be one of the key reasons why a recent study by the Caribbean Wedding Association reported that there has been a huge growth in “family destination weddings” over the past 3 years. This growth makes perfect sense when you consider that the statistics for destination weddings show that 65% of couples who opt for this route, are getting remarried. Normally, these couples have already experienced a big formal event in their first marriage and are looking for a more simplified wedding and classically, a second marriage usually involves children.
According to the Stepfamily Association of America, there are now just as many stepfamilies in the US as there are traditional “intact” families. With the increase of “familymoons” and destination weddings, more couples are searching for ways to include children in the wedding other than the obligatory flower girl and ring bearer. Couples are now prioritizing the location, the resort and the needs of their family as well as the costs associated with the destination wedding when they start searching for the perfect spot to get married! Family friendly resorts that cater to weddingmoon couples with children, often highlight their kid friendly activities, kids clubs and babysitting in their wedding brochures as even the resorts have come to realize that the wedding is not just about the man and woman anymore. Some of the top family friendly wedding resorts include the Beaches brand, the Azul Resorts, Dreams Resorts, and they Hyatt resorts.
At my wedding, held at Beaches Turks/Caicos, I wanted to make sure that my blended family was included in the ceremony and found wonderful ways to incorporate the children into my dream wedding. Here are some ideas and wedding suggestions which can include the whole family:
- Have the kids feel involved. We involved all of the children in the planning from the beginning. We created a calendar of events for our wedding guests, including a snorkel tour, dinners (one was at a Hibachi restaurant) and “meet up” times.
- If there are projects to do for the wedding, ask the children for their help. The girls in our family were a big help in some of the “do it yourself” extra’s that we brought with us including the programs, the gift bags, and the favors.
- Allow the children to feel the excitement by including them in fittings, or getting their hair done with the other members of the bridal party. We made sure to schedule “spa” appointments for our daughters to get their nails and hair done at the same time I was at the spa.
- There are several unique ceremony extra’s that children can be a part of. Unity Candles, Sand Ceremonies and even the Mayan Ribbon tying can include children with the wedding couple. I added a “sand ceremony” and had one of the colors of the sand symbolize my family and another color was for his family. The children poured the sand at the same time which made them feel important.
- Include the children at the reception and feature them. We selected a signature drink for the adults and a signature mock-tail for the children at our reception. My husband’s son, (who was 14 at the time) made a toast during the reception. The children also danced and learned the electric slide prior to the wedding so that they could dance with the adults.
- Make sure the kids are part of the photos. In addition to the wedding photos, our children all got up early the day following the wedding, for our scheduled “trash the dress” session. The girls jumped in the pool in their wedding outfits and the boys jumped off the pier in their wedding clothing!
As I was writing this blog, I asked the kids what they remembered from the wedding. Even three years later, the children all light up when we talk about the wedding. One of our kids mentioned how much fun the “trash the dress” session was, and another remembered dancing at the reception. I didn’t realize it then, but as I look back, I am so happy that they were truly a big part of not only the planning but also a huge part of the ceremony and celebration.