How Real Brides Involved Their Children in the Wedding Ceremony

Courtesy of Instagram/togetherjournal. Photo by Tim Kelly and Nadine Ellen.

The rom-com fairy tale stereotype of “happily ever after” doesn’t leave much room for today’s modern and highly nuanced families. The traditional timeline goes: Boy meets girl, boy proposes, they throw a big wedding, they have kids, and then live happily ever after. But what happens if you deviate from this plan? What if you already have children?

Women get married at all different life stages, so modern brides may well already be parents. This changes the wedding ceremony slightly. Instead of a declaration of love solely between two people, the wedding ceremony becomes more of a family celebration. Brides spoke to a number of women who are also known as “mommy” and found that many of them considered their wedding day to be a contract between the entire family unit, with the children as much a part of the marriage commitment as the bride and groom. Involving your children in your nuptials can also be a practical concern—after all, children still need supervision, even if it is your big day!

Read on to hear how real brides welcomed their children into their ceremony and how you can, too.

Carole, who lives in Atlantic Canada, found it easy to incorporate her older two children into the festivities, with one acting as ring bearer and the other as a flower girl. However, finding a special job for her youngest son, who was just two-and-a-half years old at the time, was more challenging. He ended up walking the bride down the aisle, which was made all the more poignant as Carole’s father had sadly passed away two years—almost to the date—before the wedding. Carole found this enabled her to keep a tight hold on her son and he was thrilled with the responsibility.

Keisha Blair, the founder of a soon-to-be-launched Web site called the Modern Widow, was only 31 when her husband of seven years passed away suddenly, just eight weeks after the birth of their second child. After tragedy, with time, came another chance at love, and her oldest son was chosen to carry the ring down the aisle. It was essential for Keisha that her boys were involved, as she explains: “Both boys were also starting a new life with a second dad.”

Catherine George, the owner of Catherine George Cakes in Washington, D.C., finds that many of her bridal clients include their children in the cake-cutting ceremony. It’s certainly an easier (and tastier) activity to involve them in rather than the first dance or the toasts.

XO Creative via Love Stories TV

Kyli and Doug were already parents to two adorable daughters when they wed in Punta Cana. They made sure their two little girls were a big part of the wedding day. They carried a sign down the aisle warning their dad “wait till you see Mommy!” They also wrote letters for their parents to read before their wedding that led to just a few happy tears!

See More: 8 Charming Flower Girl Looks You’ll Love

Rachel, founder of Love Stories TV, has some practical suggestions for parental brides, including allowing older children to give a speech welcoming the new step-parents into the family. She also suggests that the bride and groom write vows that acknowledge the children, which helps to solidify their new lives together.

Parents can help to keep little ones busy on the day by hiring a babysitter, an entertainer, or providing an activity table. Presenting a special gift to mini-attendants can also really help to up the wow factor for the youngest of guests.