But Mooooooom! Child Attendants

You’ve chosen the adults (or semi-adults) for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, but what about the younger folk you want to include?  Has your vision of your wedding day included a little girl frolicking down the aisle with a basket of flower petals, followed by a shy little boy holding a pillow that so carefully displays your rings?  You, my friend, have entered the realm of child attendants.

Including kids in your day can be a wonderful, beautiful thing.  It can also be a nightmare if you aren’t prepared for it.  First things first, flower girls and ring bearers are usually between the ages of 4 and 8, although you can get away with children as young as 2 if they’re the type that “act mature for their age” (though even the “mature” ones really are still 2 year olds and don’t do well with prolonged periods of silent standing).  If you want to include someone older than that you should consider having them as a “junior bridesmaid” or “junior groomsman”.  Junior bridesmaids wear dresses that are similar to those that the bridesmaids are wearing (since most aren’t made that small), and junior groomsmen can wear the same thing as the groomsmen or something one step down on the formality scale (ex: if the groomsmen are wearing black tuxes, he could get away with a black suit).

Secondly, remember that this is your wedding, one of the most important days of your life.  To a kid however, this is a day that their parents said “you have to dress up really fancy and be on your best behavior for about 8 hours”.  Just because you envision it as perfect and want it to be perfect by no means makes it so, and if someone has a tendency to get a little finicky when they aren’t allowed to regale you with their latest Lego conquests for 20 minutes or tends to declare every day opposite day you’re going to have some issues.

Never go straight to the child about being involved in the wedding; always go through the parents.  Talk to them first, and express your interest in having little Susie or Billy be in the wedding.  See if they’re okay with it, and be clear about what you want both their and their child’s role to be in the day, then you can talk to the kids yourself (but always in the presence of the parents).  It’s a nice gesture to ask the kids what they would like to wear for the day, but at the very least talk to the parents about it since they will ultimately be responsible for procuring the attire.

If they’re particularly young, it may be a good idea to have them go down the aisle with an older escort.  Whether this is one of their parents or one of the bridesmaids/groomsmen is up to you.  That long aisle when everyone is staring at you can be pretty intimidating, so having a friendly hand to hold can make it more bearable for the young ones.  Afterall, I still find it pretty intimidating myself!

Side note: A lot of couples actually tie fake rings to the ring bearer pillow and don’t use the real ones.  No matter how well you tie them on, younger kids can always get them off.  Guaranteed.  It’s like some weird law of physics.  Someone should do a study on it…

Some couples want the kids to stand with them and the rest of the bridal party for the duration of the ceremony, and you can quite possibly get away with that in they are on the older side of the scale, but generally it’s a good idea to have the kids join their parents in one of the first rows of chairs/pews so they can not only sit down but won’t be tempted by the idea of being in the spot light to try out their latest performance.  They can rejoin you before you trot back up the aisle at the end of the ceremony and make the trip with you if you want, but the longer the ceremony, the nicer it will be for everyone involved if the kids can sit down.  Unless of course you’re banking on getting video to submit to AFV.

Another way to help avoid trouble is to remember that a comfy kid is a happy kid.  If they’re too hot, itchy, stiff, tight, whatever, you’ll know about it.  When choosing outfits for them try to keep this in mind.  If it’s going to be colder out, let them wear something else underneath their clothes to keep them warm.  Bonus points if you let them pick what they wear underneath.  Major bonus points if you let them choose what they wear period.  Have something fun for them to do both before the ceremony and after, and what exactly that fun thing is depends on the kid.  When in doubt, ask the parents!  Maybe they just need access to the DS/PSP/other handheld video game device to be perfectly content (though be careful about letting them play that before hand…they might spend the ceremony itching to get back to it!), or maybe a box of Legos will do the trick.  Whatever the case is, having something else for them to do not only helps keep them content, but shows them and their parents that you actually care about them and didn’t just do this for the dog and pony show (and if you did just do it for the show, then you should reeeeeally make sure you have something fun for the kids, because they’re smarter than you want them to be and they will figure it out).

Personally, we’re not having a flower girl or ring bearer for a couple of reasons.  I was a flower girl on a number of occasions, and to say I remember the situation being stressful every time (for example, contradictory instructions from multiple adults right as you’re being sent down the aisle causes a good deal of panic) is an understatement, and I didn’t want to put anyone else in that position.  It ended up working out that I felt that way because once I actually thought about it, my youngest cousin is 9, so the girls I would have thought about asking to do it are all too old anyway.  Problem solved!  For the record, I know it sounds like I’m ignoring Tim’s family, but he only has two cousins and they’re both way past that age too.

One other thing.  Before you get all bent about having a flower girl dropping petals on the aisle, check with your ceremony site to make sure they’ll allow it!

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Posted on December 15, 2011, in Misc. Topics (Wedding), Wedding Planning Isn't For Sissies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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