My older daughter was 6 years old when I got remarried. Even while dating my now husband, I was superconscious of her place in our relationship, since we were very much a package deal. Two for the price of one. He knew going in that she was my everything and that, above all, I was a mom first. On the weekends, she was with me, we did things to include her instead of getting a sitter and having the obligatory date nights. Because we both knew that marriage was our end goal, it was important to both of us that she felt like she was part of our journey.
When we got engaged, aside from our parents, she was the first person we told, well before it was public knowledge or Facebook official. Her excitement was palpable, although at the time she was much more focused on the fact that his two dogs would now be living with us.
This was a second wedding for both of us, so there was not as much pomp and circumstance. We both did the "big glitzy ballroom and dance all night" thing the first time around, so this was going to be a much smaller, family-only, intimate affair.
From the beginning, my daughter was involved. We looked at wedding dresses online to get ideas of style before we started shopping. She helped me pick out my gown and was there for every fitting, giving her two cents. We carefully shopped for accessories for both of us. I ditched the traditional bridal party, since it was a small guest list, and instead had her as my maid of honor.
The night before the wedding, it was just her and me in the hotel suite, ordering room service for dinner and snuggling while we watched TV in a giant king-size bed — our last official night as a duo and before our little dynamic changed forever. I was equal parts nervous and excited, while she was just thrilled to be in a big fancy hotel room.
The next morning, we headed downstairs to get our hair and makeup done. We laughed and beamed, and she watched like a hawk as the manicurist painted her nails the perfect shade of white she carefully picked out while mulling over the colors. Following all of our pampering, it was time for pictures and final touches before we arrived for the ceremony. As we were getting in the elevator, she looked at me with her little jack-o'-lantern smile and said, "Mommy, I'm so excited, I'm shivering and feel like I might pee in my pants." I couldn't have said it better myself and told her I felt exactly the same way.
I know many women have their father or parents walk them down the aisle, but I just wanted to walk with her this time.
My favorite part of including her on our wedding was this next moment. I know many women have their father or parents walk them down the aisle, but I just wanted to walk with her this time. It was meaningful and symbolic. Nobody was "giving me away," we were all getting married. We were going to be a family, and I didn't want her sitting on the sidelines watching me walk down the aisle. I wanted her right there by my side because it felt right. It felt perfect.
We abandoned traditional wedding procession music for Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" played by a pianist, partially because my husband and I are fans and it was the perfect anthem for a second chance at love, but also because it's one of those songs my daughter and I sing superloudly in the car and look at each other smiling during certain verses.
After our vows, the officiant called up my daughter and asked her if she promised to love us and clean her room whenever we asked. She agreed (three-plus years later and we are still working on that second part), and then she stood in between us, each of our arms around her little shoulders, and joined our first dance as husband and wife.
Everything about it was perfect. It was our wedding, the three of us. It was a moment that we will remember for the rest of our lives and something so special she got to play a big role in that was indicative of our lives together. It was a beautiful night when we all said "we do"!