Many ceremonies involve families. Children are a part of families, so children automatically become involved whether they are merely acknowledged or actively participate.There is a role for children of all ages in ceremonies.
There are not many ceremonies that do not touch the life of a child in some way. From weddings and second marriages where a child or children come with one or both partners, renewing of marriage vows, gay marriage or commitment ceremonies, divorce ceremonies and naming ceremonies where the child as the focal point or the reason for the actual ceremony or blessing the home where children are often involved as part of the family celebrating their new home.
Lets look at the ways children can be involved in ceremonies.
Involve the children in the planning process. Don’t run the risk of having them feel left out, that they don’t count. You’ll be surprised at how positively they will respond. Their thoughts and ideas may also surprise you. Share the excitement with them, its all part of the ceremony process, the build up, the rehearsal and then the ceremony.
Ask your celebrant or officiant to make certificates for the children as mementos of their participation.
The young daughter, niece or other relative or friend of the bride or groom may be a flowergirl or maid of honour, an official member of the bridal party. The flowergirl may help scatter flower petals onto the path that the bride will tread, entering into the ceremonial area. Petals may also be scattered around the couple before the ceremony begins. A flowergirl may also hold a cushion with a wedding ring/s secured on it. Children may also be involved in blowing bubbles, releasing balloons or butterflies.
Little boys may also act as a ring bearer or attend the groom as one of the bridal party – a groomsman. Depending on the age of the boy he may give his mother, the bride, away. Many teenage sons have done this for their mothers and proudly so as a spokesperson for the family.
Children collectively may be acknowledged by their parents as being an integral part of a marriage or commitment ceremony, not only are two lives being joined at the marriage or commitment ceremony but a new family is being forged with a child or children as part of the union. They are often acknowledged as being “precious gifts” and being of “utmost priority” in the lives of the couple.
Children may also be given an opportunity to read singly or collectively. The reading may be something the child has written or it may be a poem or a passage of prose, authors such as Dr Seuss, A.A. Milne, Michael Leunig and Edward Lear are often used in marriage and commitment ceremonies. In home dedication ceremonies children may also read.
It is possible to have wedding vows incuding children in a marriage ceremony – they may wish to declare their promises or a pledge along with the new union that their parent is making.
Children may be involved in a candle lighting ritual, often as part of a family unity ritual in the ceremony. This is a very inclusive gesture at a time when family unity is eagerly sought and treasured. Candles are often lit in home dedication ceremonies as well although this is a task for older children or adults.
Name ceremonies is a very popular ceremony for children. These ceremonies date back to ancient Greek and Roman times. A child was not considered a part of the family until he or she had been named in a special name giving ceremony. It is a tradition that has been adopted by many western countries. It is important to note that this ceremony does not take the place of any other religious or non religious affiliation that the child may choose in later life.
The child is the focal point ofÂ a name ceremony, can be of any age, most usually an infant or a toddler. Parents fashion a ceremony around their personal situation usually including a formal welcome to the child and an acknowledgement of their thanks and relief that the child arrived safely. Information about the child’s life thus far and the meaning of the name of the child can also be included. Blessings and wishes for the life of the child are often a feature of the ceremony.
Given that about half of all marriages terminate in divorce nowadays, if there are children from the marriage, its obvious that children are going to be involved in some way. In an effort to assist with the healing and moving on process for both parent/s and children/child, a divorce ceremony can be conducted.
Children may just be acknowledged or they can take an active part in the proceedings. Both the good and the bad aspects of the marriage are acknowledged with ample opportunities for a child to contribute in positive ways.
There are many ceremonies that children can participation in and their involvement makes ceremonies richer, much more personal and the benefits for the children are immeasurable.
Notes on the author:
Elizabeth Gray is an Australian celebrant.Â Ceremonies that may involve children can be found at:
www.thevowsbook.com – a compilation of marriage ceremonies
www.renewalofvows.net - renewal of vows ceremonies
www.spiritualceremonies.info – spiritually inspired ceremonies
www.2ndmarriageceremonies.com – second marriage ceremonies
www.gaycommitmentceremony.net – gay commitment/marriage ceremonies
www.namegivingceremonies.com – name giving/naming ceremonies
www.wedding-ceremonies.net – more marriage ceremonies
www.divorce-ceremony.com -Â divorce ceremonies
www.home-dedication.net – dedication and blessing of homes