I’m including a guest post today from Holly Robinson, author of a new novel that comes out today, April 1st — Beach Plum Island. As a mom and stepmom herself, Holly offers some great tips on making your second wedding a success with the kids.
Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for Holly’s new book, an engaging novel with stepfamily dynamics and a compelling story line. (see details below)
“How to Make Your Second Wedding Something Your Kids Will Enjoy” By Holly Robinson
When I became engaged to my second husband, I was excited about planning our wedding. There was just one catch: with four young children between us—a boy and a girl from each side—I had no idea what that wedding should look like. This marriage would grant me the title of “stepmother,” so I was faced with the thorny public relations nightmare of stepmothers everywhere. To my stepchildren, I was the reason why their father no longer lived with their mother. And my own children saw my remarriage as a hostile act, as if I’d cranked up the drawbridge with their dad stranded on the other side of the moat.
Our wedding seemed like a logical place to begin creating the loving bonds that we’d need to sustain us as our two families began learning to live in harmony. My first marriage had been all about tradition: I wore a white dress, we held the reception in an elegant inn, and my husband and I left immediately for a Cape Cod honeymoon. What had I learned from that experience? A traditional wedding, no matter how much it makes you feel like Cinderella, doesn’t guarantee that you will live happily-ever-after. This time, I wanted to design a wedding that spoke volumes about the love I felt not only for my husband-to-be, but for our children, ages 6, 7, 8 and 9. This meant putting together a ceremony that would mean something to the kids, too. Here’s what worked for us:
Plan Your Wedding as a Family
Make the wedding a family activity. Our two daughters had strong opinions about everything from what dress I should wear to what the invitations should look like, and our sons were brilliant when it came to thinking of things to do during what they insisted on calling “the wedding party” instead of a reception. Within reason, we let them have their say.
Keep the Reception Casual
Even if the wedding is in a church, with children in tow you’re not going to want a formal reception. Outdoor weddings are perfect for kids. We held ours in the back yard with a caterer and a DJ. A friend took the photographs. If your yard isn’t big enough, arrange the reception at a local park or beach.
Invite Only Close Friends and Relatives—and Their Kids
Our wedding list eventually was made up of under 100 guests—our closest friends and relatives, plus their children. This meant that over half of the guests were under twelve. Chaos alert! But then our sons had the brilliant idea of giving the kids their own separate food table. This saved our budget as well as our sanity: we catered high-end food for the adults, but kid-friendly food like macaroni and cheese, plates of fresh fruit, and cupcakes, too.
Provide Babysitters or Entertainment
It’s essential to have child wranglers available at the reception so you and the other adults can enjoy yourselves. We hired two teenagers to corral our children and their friends into line dancing and games. We also hired a pair of clowns to do face painting and magic tricks for an hour at the reception.
Don’t Leave on Your Honeymoon Right Away
As much as your children might enjoy themselves at the wedding, they will probably be anxious afterward. If you can put off your honeymoon even for a couple of days, it will help normalize things for them. We spent our wedding night at a local hotel while my mother stayed with the children. The next morning, we were back early to give everyone breakfast, including relatives from out of town. And that was the best moment for me of all, really: knowing that we were going to sit down as husband and wife, surrounded by family as our new lives began.
Bio: Holly Robinson is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Huffington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, More, Open Salon and Parents. Her new novel, BEACH PLUM ISLAND, is Holly Robinson at her best, a story about family, love and buried secrets.