The Family Medallion® presentation
The Family Oriented Wedding
Its Time Has Come Now that One in Three Marriages Involve Parents with Young Children
It was a giant step for Johnna Reeder, a divorced public relations executive focused on her rapidly rising career, to marry into a ready-made family – one that included two school-age children who needed lots of time and attention. But after three years of dating Kurt Kleymeyer, a 39-year-old financial services wholesaler, Johnna admits that her priorities shifted.
“Our dates did not consist of the fine restaurants and exciting theatre to which I had become accustomed,” explains 37-year-old Johnna. “The kids were part of our dating relationship from the start, so we did things like roller skating, seeing family films and other child-appropriate activities.”
The jeweler had used the Family Medallion and family wedding service in her own blended family wedding and enthusiastically recommended it to Johnna. Since she didn’t sell Family Medallion products in her shop, she gave Johnna the website address where she could get more information. “I checked it out,” Johnna recalls. “I loved the symbolism of the Family Medallion. And the wording of the family ceremony that accompanied it epitomized what was in my heart. I write for a living and I couldn’t have expressed any better the sentiments about the importance of children in blended families.”
Both Johnna and Kurt say they will never forget the special family service that was the highlight of their September 2009 wedding in the backyard of the home of Kurt’s father and stepmother. Just when everyone thought the wedding service was about to end, the minister announced that there would be a special ceremony during which Johnna and Kurt would formally promise to love and care for Emma and Alex. While the minister read the words of the ceremony aloud for the guests to hear, Johnna and Kurt gave the Family Medallions to their children. It was a tender moment, with a lot of hugging. “I was so surprised and excited,” recalls young Emma. “It made me happy that Dad and Johnna did something so special for me and Alex.”
For most of the guests at the Reeder/Kleymeyer wedding, the family service was the pinnacle of the day’s events. Many were touched to tears. “I can’t tell you how many people told me they had never before witnessed such a wonderful and unique ceremony for children,” Johnna says.
The family wedding concept is an idea whose time has come now that one in three new marriages involves single parents with children living in the home, according to the Stepfamily Association of America. The Family Medallion wedding ceremony was created by Dr. Roger Coleman, minister, and president of Clergy Services, Inc., an organization in Kansas City, Missouri, devoted to developing family-oriented services for weddings and other important life events. Dr. Coleman was frustrated that virtually no religious or civil wedding ceremony acknowledged the existence of youngsters. “A marriage with children is a lot more than simply a union of a man and a woman. It is the merging of two separate families.”
Today, more than 15,000 couples annually – primarily in the U.S., Canada, and Europe – use the Family Medallion ceremony to help strengthen the bond between parents, stepparents, and children. Clergy and justices of the peace increasingly embrace Coleman’s family ceremony, integrating it into the weddings they perform. Some even caution couples not to underestimate the importance of recognizing during the wedding the young children either spouse brings to the marriage relationship.
“When children aren’t included in a significant way, you can see the haunted look in their faces. You get the sense that they’re thinking my mom or dad just promised to love someone else forever. What about me?” says Pastor Brian Eastman, the minister who performed the family wedding for Johnna and Kurt. Eastman is pastor of the Revelation Spiritual Church of Christ in Cincinnati. “So many problems in adults can be traced to childhood and the belief that there’s not enough love to go around. When this occurs, the child grows up with the sense that he or she is not entirely lovable, a belief affects virtually all aspects of one’s adult life.”
Johnna and Kurt believe that their decision to have a “family wedding” will strengthen their family bond for years to come. “My parents divorced when I was six years old,’ explains Kurt, the father of Emma and Alex. “Divorce is hard on kids. I wanted Emma and Alex to understand that they were not losing Johnna to me through marriage. I think the family wedding service did just that. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”
As far as fifth grader Emma is concerned, the family wedding meant she was gaining a step mom who loves her very much. She wears her Family Medallion ring every day and proudly shows it to friends. “I tell them it means that all of us – Dad, Johnna, Alex and me – came together as a family.”
The Des Moines Register
Iowa Life section
A Wedding Ceremony for Combined Families
Bob’s 12-year-old son, Robert “Bo,” was the best man. Janie’s 10-year-old son, James gave her away.
Family MedallionAfter the couple exchanged rings and vows, their attention turned to the boys. Janie placed a ring on Bo’s left middle finger and hugged him. Bob did the same for Janie’s son. The boys beamed with gratitude.
The rings bear a medallion with three interlocking circles which represent family union just as a wedding band symbolizes conjugal love. Children can see, touch, and feel the meaning behind the gift.
“It’s simple enough that they grasp it,” said the Rev. Roger Coleman of Pilgrim Chapel in Kansas City, MO who developed the concept in 1987. “It’s a constant reminder of their significance.”
The 5-minute ceremony known as the Family Medallion® service can be incorporated into any religious or civil wedding that involves children. It’s gaining momentum as the number of stepfamilies in the nation continues to increase.
“Our goal is to assist parents in developing a ceremony that supports their new family relationships, said Coleman. “We try to provide the materials they need to support family commitments.”
Twice As Nice
U.S. News and World Report
When Strangers Become Family
Catholic Periodical, The Tidings
When Kimberly Cavanaugh agreed to marry Tony Garcia, the 32-year-old realized that she was getting more than just a husband. “I was making a commitment to be a good stepmother to Christy and Travis.” she says, referring to her fiancé’s adolescent children from a previous marriage.
Family Medallion WeddingsAn article in a bridal magazine supplied the answer the couple was seeking: information about a simple liturgical service that gives children a meaningful role in the wedding celebration. This five-minute ceremony–known as the “Family Medallion®” service–can be integrated into any religious wedding. It differs from the traditional Catholic wedding in only one respect: after the newlyweds’ exchange rings, their children join them on the altar for a special service focusing on the family nature of remarriage.
Mrs. Garcia says that no one will ever forget the moment during the wedding last summer when she and Tony placed a Family Medallion® around the necks of Christy and Travis. Tony, who isn’t prone to displays of sentiment, agrees. “It was an emotionally powerful event,” the 36-year-old father says. “We gave the kids something tangible to show them they were going to be an integral part of our lives. They were beaming. I could tell how happy they were.”
Fourteen-year-old Travis still remembers the words about family love spoken by the priest who officiated at the wedding, “I thought, ‘Wow, Dad and Kimberly really do want us to be a family.'”
Christy, 12, was also thrilled. “I felt so special when they gave me the family medal,” she says. “Kimberly could have had an ordinary wedding like everyone else. But she went beyond the ordinary to make the wedding a day we would all remember. I realized how much she cared about Travis and me and that she really meant it when she said that she would always be there for us.”
“It’s a very positive service for all involved,” says Msgr. John F. Barry. Msgr. Barry has used the Family Medallion® ceremony in several weddings including the Cavanaugh/Garcia wedding. “When there is a remarriage situation, it’s critical that children from previous marriages be affirmed and welcomed into the new relationship created by their parent and stepparent. The Family Medallion® service is a good way to celebrate this new beginning,” Msgr. Barry told The Tidings.