While no one should steal the bride’s spotlight at a wedding, a couple of cute kiddos in fancy clothes coming down the aisle certainly come close – though not always for all the right reasons.
We’ve all heard horror stories of flower girls throwing tantrums rather than petals or ring bearers having an accident in their suits. So, if you’re thinking about including children in your upcoming ceremony, here are a few no-nonsense tips for avoiding pint-sized problems on the big day.
Are Kids Required?
First, you and your fiancé should ask yourselves if you want to involve children in your ceremony. Even though some religious ceremonies or traditions call for kids, ultimately, it’s your wedding and your call.
“Think about the overall flow and intention you have for the ceremony. What do you want to experience and feel?” advises Krissy Campbell, owner of Simply Be So Events in South Bend, Ind. “If it’s important that you involve certain family members, then you may lean toward involving kids. But, if you want the ceremony to have a more formal or intimate feel without a huge bridal party, not involving kids is perfectly fine, too!”
What is the Best Age?
Ideally, Campbell advises choosing children who are around 4-7 years old to participate in the ceremony. Infants and toddlers tend to be more unpredictable and can be easily overwhelmed by the crowd.
“Although most can’t help this, if you have an option, I would recommend sticking in this age group, as it is less stressful for parents and others,” she says.
Talk to Kids About Their Responsibilities
If you decide to include children in your ceremony, you should talk to them about their responsibilities before the big day.
“It’s so important to make some time to help the kids and their parents realize the importance of their role in a way that makes them feel excited about getting to walk down the aisle and be selected by the bride and groom,” Campbell says.
It is also helpful to have a point person for all the kids. This could be a parent, member of the bridal party or wedding planner – just someone who they can trust and look to for help during the ceremony.
Tips for the Trip Down the Aisle
Rather than having each child walk alone, Campbell recommends allowing kids proceed in pairs or a small group.
Allowing kids to walk down with each other is always fun because they feed off each other and help the other. This often evokes some fun and cute moments,” she says.
For very young children, consider having a parent pull the mini ring bearer or flower girl in a wagon. Or, have a parent at the front of the venue to help kiddos avoid detours by giving them a destination and familiar face to toddle towards.
Campbell also recommends having children sit with their parents or a trusted family member rather than stand at the altar for the rest of the ceremony. “If they are up front, giving them a special designated place to sit during the rest of the ceremony is always helpful since it can be a long time for them to stand and be attentive without being distracting,” she says.
Think Beyond Traditional Kids’ Roles
Don’t feel limited by the conventional flower girl/ring bearer roles. There are many different ways to incorporate kids into your ceremony that work for your wedding style and vision.
Older children can greet guests at the door of the ceremony or reception, and help with the guest book. Introducing kids at the reception with the rest of the bridal part can be a great way to acknowledge them outside of walking down the aisle. Simply including young family members or children of friends in a few photos can also be an easy and fun way to make them feel included in the event.