Honoring loved ones who are present at the ceremony is less emotionally wrought than absentee statements or memorial elements, so I don't have "words of caution" for this like I do when remembering those who are unable to attend the wedding. I simply counsel couples to give this a little thought, but if no one springs readily to mind don't worry about including it in the ceremony. My Words of Welcome always conclude with a thank you to all of the guests for attending. That's a given!
But for couples who have a person or a few people who deserve special recognition, there are a number of things they can do to make their appreciation known in the context of the ceremony. Adding a personalized expression of gratitude that references the individuals by name is perhaps the simplest way to honor a loved one attending the wedding. I have had couples present their parents with a gift, sometimes as simple as a flower pulled from the bride's bouquet or taking that moment to pin on their corsages and bouttonieres. I have asked the parents for their blessing of the marriage, mentioned the person who introduced the couple therefore making this all possible in the first place, and once (very discretely) thanked the great-aunt who gave the couple the money to pay for their wedding. No one else knew exactly what was happening, but she did and was tickled pink! I know, because she told me later.
Beyond the Words of Welcome, representatives of the couples' families can be included in unity rituals, invited forward to read a passage, or even help officiate the ceremony. I have informally "co-officiated" with friends and family members on a handful of occasions now, though only once formally with a fellow member of the clergy. Children are a unique category of loved ones to be honored. So I'm not really addressing the idea of blending families, but rather adults who have been so important in the couples' lives that they feel their ceremony would be missing something if these individuals were not included in some way.
If this means you, I encourage you to partner with your officiant and brainstorm the numerous creative ways you can include special family and friends in your wedding. If you feel it appropriate in your circumstances, it does indeed add a great depth of meaning to the occasion!
Photo Attribute: Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings