In 2020 Children Need to be Invited to Your Wedding

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (12/07/2020)
Categories: |  Inclusive Weddings | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Planning |
< previous    |    contents    |    next >
Group of children of assorted ages dressed in
                    their bestNow that restrictions on numbers at weddings are progressively being relaxed, more guests allowed means many couples will be back to making a decision about whether to invite children to their wedding.

Google "Child-free wedding" and you'll get a million hits. Google "Children in weddings" and you'll get as many. Both search terms will turn up countless discussions about how tricky it is to manage to have a child-free wedding without offending people, and how tricky wedding ceremonies and the formal parts of the reception is for children who do attend.

One thing I can absolutely guarantee, though, is that every bit of advice you'll read will advise that parents with children should be seated on an aisle or at the back so they can make a quick exit if the child gets restless or noisy, and that they should be told at the beginning of the ceremony that it is ok to leave.

I'm not going to weigh into discussion about what you should do about children at your reception. But I am going to give you good reasons why it is particularly important for children to experience wedding ceremonies.

In 2020 everything changes

In the first three months of 2020 everything changed. In Australia the bushfires that started in 2019 and their aftereffects continued to impact whole communities.. A nasty little virus took hold world wide. And world wide nasty racism, and protests about racism, highlighted current and historical discrimination and inequality based on race as never before. In an effort to contain COVID-19, restrictions were imposed that impacted every part of our normal lives. Media coverage was, and still is, incessant. And, try as we might, we could not protect our children from the impact of all the above.

Four good reasons to invite children to your ceremony

Weddings are happy occasions that make memories. For everyone present. The ceremony does so much more than create memories, which makes experiencing a wedding ceremony particularly important for children here and now. Children are little sponges. They absorb so much more than most of us realise - until, of course, they come out with something surprising, usually in company, that reveals how much that have seen, heard, and taken to heart.

The ceremony can (and should) expose everyone present to
  • acceptance, respect, and inclusion in action
  • love and commitment in action
  • gratitude in action
  • the law in action

For children being present at a wedding ceremony is a positive experience that can counter the various negative messages they have been exposed to in late 2019 and the first half of 2020.

Acknowledgement of Country: acceptance, respect, and inclusion in action

Commencing the ceremony with an Acknowledgement of Country exposes children to a powerfully anti-racist expression of respect. The impact of seeing and hearing adults acknowledge Australia's First Nation people as part of an intimate event that is both private and personal cannot be underestimated.

The Monitum: acceptance, respect, and inclusion in action

The Monitum (Latin meaning warning) is the passage from the Marriage Act that your celebrant is required to say before the couple exchanges vows.
I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.
Before you are joined together in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.
Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
Generally regarded to be a boring requirement, to me it is (now) a very positive and important expression of equality regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It is therefore good for children to hear it said.

Affirmation of Intention and Vows: love and commitment in action 

We are all familiar with those I DO questions and with the concept of making a binding verbal commitment (the vows). As adults, we understand that marriage vows represent a life-long commitment. It is a very grown-up thing. Children need to see this in order to be able to appreciate what that means.

Gratitude in action

A good wedding ceremony is infused with gratitude
  • gratitude to the guests for their presence - usually expressed early in the ceremony when the celebrant welcomes everyone
  • gratitude for people who may not be present for any number of reasons, including having passed away
  • gratitude to the couple's parents - expressed to the parents when they are invited to give their blessing to the marriage
  • gratitude of the couple to each other

Hearing that they are appreciated never does a child any harm. Nor does it hurt to hear the things that the couple are grateful to their parents and to others for.

The Law in action

The legal concepts of witnessing, making a verbal contractual statement, and signing documentation are all embedded in a marriage ceremony. Hearing the couple preface their vows by asking everyone present to witness them stresses to children the legal importance of witnesses. If they are young children that will likely go over their heads, but what won't is that their presence as witnesses to the marriage counts, if not legally, certainly emotionally.

A last word

In my experience, when parents know that their children are welcome, that you feel that their children are important witnesses to your marriage, and that you do not expect them to be shepherded out if they become restless, the parents relax, which means the children relax too and are less likely to be disruptive.

Jenny xxx Let's talk
                    soon about how you can have the best ceremony ever
< previous    |    contents    |    next    |   get in touch >
you 0  Things