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Getting married can be stressful enough, but when your upcoming wedding is blending a family, there's a lot more to worry about than whether to get married in a church or on the beach. Whether your kids are toddlers or teenagers, they are bound to have some anxiety about the impending changes in their lives. Here's how to let your wedding help set the tone for blending your family.
Let them help with the wedding preparations.
You'll spend months planning for your perfect day and make many decisions, so why not let your kids help with the process? There's no need to go crazy and let them paint all over your wedding dress like Angelina Jolie, but there are plenty of other ways they can help. Take them to the wedding cake tasting and let them help pick the cake flavors. Let them help pick songs for the reception. Make assembling the wedding favors a blended family fun day activity. If your children are part of the planning, they'll feel an ownership in the ceremony, and hopefully feel more excited about their new life with your spouse and their children.
Include them in the wedding party.
If at all possible, make your children members of the wedding party - flower girls and ring bearers, junior bridesmaids and groomsmen. Your children are just as much a part of the marriage as you and your spouse, so they should have a significant role in the ceremony. However, some children are horrified at the thought of standing up in front of a church full of guests. In that case, come up with an alternative that makes them feel just as included.
Make the wedding photos fun.
Of course you're going to have photos with you and your children, but mix it up. Take photos with you and just your spouse's children, and vice versa. Take photos of just your kids and their new siblings, and take some candid ones, too. These will be their first official photos as brothers and sisters, so make it fun.
Let them give a speech.
Hopefully, your kids love their new step-parent. Why not let them give a toast at the reception telling everyone what they love about them? Your child will feel like he or she has a part in welcoming their new step-parent into the family, and it will help them feel invested in their new family.
Consider a family honeymoon.
Maybe not the night of your wedding, or even the days following, but very soon after your wedding, take a trip together to celebrate your new family. Don't worry if you have few hiccups - they'll make great stories and new family memories that you share with your spouse and his or her kids.
Denise Grover Swank is the New York Times and USA TODAY *bestselling author of more than 30 novels and the mother of six kids in her own blended family. Her latest novel, ONLY YOU (October 25, 2016; Grand Central), the first in Denise's Bachelor Brotherhood trilogy, features a protagonist who works as a wedding planner. *