First, if you have or want a great relationship with your children or stepchildren-to-be, I highly recommend that you don't exclude them from your wedding. I have heard stories about couples not including their children, and I truly believe your kids should be a part of your wedding event in some way, the very least of which is to be invited. After all, when you get remarried with kids, the reality is you are bringing families together; there is more to consider than just you and your spouse.
"One of the most complicated aspects of stepfamilies is figuring out the issues of belonging - who feels 'in' and who doesn't," according to Jean McBride, author of Encouraging Words for New Stepmothers. Assuming the children want to be included, here are some ways to include them after you get engaged to remarry:
- Create opportunities for parents who are about to become stepparents to spend time with their stepchildren during the wedding planning phase (e.g., enjoy a make-up session or spa day; shop for wedding attire together; have a pre-wedding picnic; let the "guys" in the newly forming family have their own version of a "bachelor" party on a paintball excursion or golf outing, etc.).
- Let the kids help sample the wedding food from the wedding venue beforehand. Allow them to create a kid's menu to enjoy at the wedding reception. Have a cake designed just for them that celebrates a new family coming together.
- Include unique second wedding favors for them. Consider having entertainment for them. When I remarried, we had an antique fire engine on which the kids could take rides, and it presented some great photo opportunities, too.
- Encourage your kids to participate in your wedding ceremony. Older children can recite a reading or a poem. Or, your entire stepfamily can participate in a sand layering ceremony.
- Present your children with a wedding gift or keepsake so they can be recognized and have a treasure to help remember the day.
- Have a special dance with them. For many kids, they will want to feel connected to you on that day.