More than 15,000 couples annually use the Family Medallion ceremony to help strengthen the bond between parents, step-parent and children.
Moving their relationship from dating to marriage was a big step for Lynn Lehman and Cliff Simonelli. One primary concern was how their respective children?Lynn?s two young sons, ages 5 and 8, plus Cliff?s three youngsters, ages 9 to 15?would come together as a family.
?Cliff and I were both divorced,? says Lynn, a 38-year-old marketing manager. ?Divorce turns kids? lives upside down. My boys didn?t verbalize anything, but I knew they were worried. That?s one reason why Cliff and I decided to do something during our wedding to communicate to all the children that we were creating a family that would be there for them.
?We wanted them to know that they could trust that our marriage and our new family would not fall apart.?
But finding the perfect ?family? wedding ceremony was not as easy as Lynn had anticipated. She spent hours surfing the Web only to find a lot of so-called blended family products with more sizzle than substance.
Eventually, Lynn found exactly what she had in mind: a simple and emotionally satisfying family service that gives children a meaningful role in the wedding celebration.
This five-minute ceremony?known as the Family Medallion service?can easily be integrated into any religious or civil wedding ceremony.
It differs from the traditional wedding in only one respect, after the newlyweds exchange rings, their children join them for a special service focusing on the family nature of a marriage. Each child is given a Family Medallion pendant (or ring) with three interlocking circles, a symbol that represents family love (for ceremony information, see FamilyMedallion.com).
The Wheaton, Ill., couple liked the message of the family ceremony, which included a pledge to love and care for all the children either spouse brings to the marriage.
?We were making a commitment to the children, and we wanted them to make a commitment to work through the challenges that our new family would inevitably face,? Lynn adds.
The Simonellis say they will never forget the special family service that was the highlight of their September 2008 wedding. The justice of the peace called each child forward and, while he read the words of the ceremony, Lynn and Cliff placed the medallions around the necks of their children. There was a lot of hugging and tears.
?I could tell by the way the kids reacted that on some level, they understood,? Lynn says.
For example, Lynn?s youngest son, 5-year-old Christopher, clutched his medallion and beamed at his stepdad Cliff.
?This is cool, dude,? he said. ?I love you.?
Cliff, a 41-year-old salesman, had been concerned that his teenage son and daughter might not warm to the idea of a family service.
?But once we gave them the medallions, I could feel in them a palpable sense of relief?that they knew everything was going to be OK,? he says.
Most of the guests attending the Lehman-Simonelli wedding were awed by the family ceremony.
?We got tons of compliments,? Lynn says. ?People told us that they had never seen such a unique and beautiful way to recognize children.?
More than 15,000 couples annually use the Family Medallion ceremony to help strengthen the bond between parents, step-parents and child?ren.
?I was very impressed with the Family Medallion ceremony,? says David Schaal, a Minneapolis minister. ?When I recently used it during a wedding, I could see the pride and happiness in the face the little boy who received the medallion. It?s my feeling that when children are involved, it?s important to do something tangible to recognize them during the wedding.?
Lynn and Cliff believe that their decision to have a ?family? wedding will strengthen their family bond for years to come.
?As our kids grow older, I hope they appreciate the value of family and what we did to assure them that they would always be an integral part of our lives,? Lynn says.
Andrew Lehman, 8, isn?t thinking much about the future. He wears his Family Medallion every day and refers to the wedding as ?the day my mom, my stepdad and all of us kids got married.?
?My medallion means family. That?s what we are.?
Courtesy of ARAcontent