But nowadays, more and more couples are having children before tying the knot further down the line - in fact, there were 23,348 births outside marriage in 2016, according to CSO statistics.
Deciding whether to invite other people's children to your wedding can be a tricky decision, but when it comes to your own wedding- it’s a whole different story.
Whether you have your own children or you or your partner have children from other relationships, of course you’ll want to make them feel special on the day.
While many young children play the typical role of flower girl or ring bearer, there are plenty of other ways to involve your children in your wedding.
1. Have them do a reading
If your little ones are old enough to read, why not give them a special reading to do on the day? Whether it’s your favourite poem or something they’ve written themselves, this is bound to put a smile on all your guests faces.
There are also plenty of easy poems and readings for children online.
2. A walk down or up the aisle
This can be a good way to involve children during the wedding ceremony itself, or if you don’t plan on having flower girls or ring bearers. Have your children accompany you down the aisle, alongside whoever else walks you down, or have them lead you out of the church on your way out.
They could throw glitter, rose petals or confetti (if it’s allowed at the venue) or hold up a sign (Etsy.com have some very twee but adorable 'Here comes mommy' signs for walking up the aisle) to keep them busy.
3. Include them in a special second dance
After your first dance as newlyweds, consider having a second dance with the kids before the rest of the guests join in. This could be anything from a song you love as a family, or a song your little ones love to have a dance to.
4. Have them lend a hand to DIY projects
If you're planning to do any DIY for your big day, have your kids help out. Encourage them to get creative and have fun, it will help them to feel included in plans, get excited for the day and guests will love to seeing their handiwork. They could write or draw the table names on some card, or scroll out the place names for people to decipher (you could print them underneath) or have them do a drawing for the mass booklet (which you can then have printed and have as a keepsake), or make their own bouquet.
5. Mention them in your vows
Writing your own vows is a lovely idea, and a great way to say some special words about your wonderful kids. No matter what their age (even teenagers) they will no doubt be so happy to hear your nice words. And will be something they no doubt cherish for a lifetime.
6. Make them bridesmaids and groomsmen
If you have teenagers instead of tots, why not add them to your bridal party? This will make them feel like a special part of the big day, giving them an important role on a day they’ll never forget.
7. Give them a special gift on the morning of the wedding
This can be a particularly nice touch if you’re officially taking the title as a step-parent on the day. A small trinket will make them feel extra special, and it will be something they will cherish for years to come.
8. Include them in a unity ceremony
Unity ceremonies come in all different forms such as sand ceremonies, water ceremonies or tree planting ceremonies, and represent the coming together of two people. If you'd like, you can include your kids in this, signifying a coming together as a family. If you want to make it really fun for kids (and if your celebrant is into it), you could use a sweety jar, and give each person a little tube of their favourite sweets, to pour into one big jar. Best of luck getting them not to eat them though! If you are having a hand tying ceremony, you could use your kids' favourite baby blankets or similar to bind your hands together.
9. Bring them into the team
If you're bringing together step brothers and sisters, handing out a team badge or pin is a sweet idea to make everyone in the family feel part of a special group. Think something like the cute grape soda 'Ellie' badge from 'Up' or create your own family coat of arms and say a few words about how special it is to bring the family together.
10. Feature them on the family cake topper
Not only is this something to make the guests smile, it’s something you will treasure as a family when the day is over. Personalised cake toppers for each member of the family is a cute idea that can definitely be done on a budget. You could even get your children to create their own in advance!
11. Have them sing a song
If you’ve got a mini Madonna in the family or a dancing fanatic, have them perform at the party or the ceremony. You could let them sing a song as you walk out of the church, or a dance piece on the dance floor later in the evening.