Planning a Wedding: Including Children in the Ceremony as Flower Girls, Ringbearers and Junior Bridesmaids

Should Children be Part of a Wedding Ceremony?

There are many details involved in planning a wedding, but for brides or grooms that have young children, or nieces and nephews that want to be part of the special day, you'll have to decide whether to include children in the wedding ceremony.

Many people love the idea of an adorable flower girl and/or ring bearer dressed as mini brides and grooms walking down the aisle and standing quietly next to the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Yet, often that idea is just that - a fantasy! Its best to carefully consider a minimum age requirement for the wedding and alternative ways to include kids in the celebration if participation in the ceremony is not allowed or ill-advised under the circumstances.

You may wish to include a flower girl or ringbearer that is toilet trained and ready from a maturity standpoint to walk down the aisle by themselves in the wedding ceremony. On the other hand,if a child is not old enough to manage the task of taking part in a wedding ceremony, you could have a major distraction on your hands.

Let's review some of the considerations to make when planning your wedding and deciding whether to include kids!

Note: All photographs in this hub are the property of the author, Stephanie Hicks. Please contact me for permission to reprint or publish.

This flower girl and ring bearer are 5 years old
This flower girl and ring bearer are 5 years old | Source
Children can add a youthful, spirited touch to a wedding ceremony
Children can add a youthful, spirited touch to a wedding ceremony | Source

How Old Should a Flower Girl or Ring Bearer Be?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors:

  • How formal is your ceremony? The more formal the setting, the older a child should be. On the other hand, a casual, outdoor celebration may be more child-friendly. Some people suggest that a child be at least 5 years old to take part in a wedding ceremony.
  • How confident is the child? If the young girl or boy is afraid of letting go of their parent's hand, or otherwise anxious in front of large crowds, then they may not be able to walk down the aisle when the moment arrives. This may be OK for some wedding parties, but upsetting for others.
  • How important is it to the bride, groom and/or the families that the child "behave"? Some people are more laid-back and will laugh at cute antics of a flower girl or ring-bearer, while others frown upon behavior that is possible when you include a child under the age of 8 in the wedding (blurting out questions during the ceremony, fidgeting, twirling around, passing gas, even picking their nose - yes, this happened at our wedding!)

Cute Flower Girls: Would this Make You Laugh at Your Own Wedding?

Both the ring bearer and flower girl are cousins of the bride
Both the ring bearer and flower girl are cousins of the bride | Source

Does the Child Have an Appropriate Temperament to be a Flower Girl or Ringbearer?

When you invite a child into your wedding ceremony, be prepared to showcase their unique personality. Some children are very talkative and inquisitive. They might ask questions or otherwise be overly curious during the service.

For example, my sister (5 years old at the time), loudly asked whether my aunt and uncle were going to have a baby right after they exchanged rings. Another friend of mine had her nephew attempting to lift up her giant gown to see what was underneath it!

Other children may be very shy or anxious in large groups. Expecting them to be able to walk down the aisle in front of a crowd may be too much to ask.

Even if they are normally even tempered, some kids will just have a bad day on the day of the wedding. If they have traveled long distances to get to the wedding, or have been dressed up for hours during photographs, it is possible they will be at the end of their rope. Wailing, crying or even throwing a temper tantrum could occur!

The bottom line is to be prepared for anything when you are including children in a wedding ceremony. As long as expectations are reasonable, a child does not have to ruin the day, even if things do not go smoothly or exactly as planned.

In fact, the proper question may be do YOU have the appropriate temperament to handle a child's meltdown or other antics on your wedding day?

A flower girl and ring bearer patiently waiting to take part in wedding photographs
A flower girl and ring bearer patiently waiting to take part in wedding photographs | Source

How Formal will the Wedding Ceremony Be?

If your dream is to have a wedding fit for a princess, carefully consider whether children should be part of the scene. Chances are, they will be a distraction. Cute? - yes. Naughty? - depends on your definition of the term.

Formal wedding ceremonies can certainly include children. In fact, the British Royal Wedding in 2011 had six young children participating in the wedding party as junior bridesmaids, pages in attendance and flower girls. Their ages ranged from 3-10 years old.

Hiring a babysitter with whom the child is already familiar, or enlisting another trusted family member that is not otherwise taking part in the wedding to help with a young flower girl or ring bearer could help distract, entertain and manage little wedding participants. Another helpful tip is to "practice" holding a flower basket or ring bearers pillow while showing the child how to walk down a hallway. Children ages 5 and up can usually understand what to expect if you explain it beforehand.

Before you plan on including kids in a formal wedding ceremony, be sure to check with the pastor or officiant to ensure there are no rules that would restrict or prohibit children from taking part in the ceremony.

Adorable Ring Bearer

These boys helped out at the wedding reception, rather than participate in the ceremony
These boys helped out at the wedding reception, rather than participate in the ceremony | Source

Is There Another Role for a Child to Take Part in the Wedding Celebration?

Maybe there are many young children you would like to include when planning your wedding. Or, perhaps you have decided that any potentially eligible kids are simply too young or do not have the right temperament to participate in the ceremony.

You can still have them participate in the celebration in other meaningful ways: (1) passing out wedding programs; (2) handing out groom's cake at the reception; (3) handing out little bottles of bubbles; (4) taking pictures with disposable cameras; (5) "ushering" grandparents to their seats; or (6) simply dressing the part of a flower girl or ring bearer for photographs, then sitting with family during the ceremony.

This wedding included junior bridesmaids, a flower girl and ring bearer
This wedding included junior bridesmaids, a flower girl and ring bearer | Source

What About Junior Bridesmaids?

Sometimes the question is not whether a child is old enough to be a flower girl, but whether she is too old! For young girls ages 10-18, the role of junior bridesmaid may be a better fit.

A junior bridesmaid walks down the aisle, usually after the other bridesmaids, but before the flower girl and/or ring bearer. Her dress can be the same or similar to those worn by bridesmaids, but usually a bit more modest and "girl"-like. This role in a wedding ceremony often delights pre-teens and teens who long to dress and feel more grown-up.

Consider whether to include junior bridesmaids with a pre-wedding make-up, nails, or hairdressing session. Don't forget to offer small gifts of appreciation to all children in your ceremony, as well as to other attendants.

Wedding Rehearsal: Where do Junior Bridesmaids Fit?

Considering whether to include children in a wedding ceremony
Considering whether to include children in a wedding ceremony | Source

Why I Had Kids Take Part in Our Wedding Ceremony

My husband and I decided to include children in our wedding party and have not regretted the decision. Two of my cousins were flower girls, and my cousin's son was the ring bearer. All three of them were 5 years old at the time.

Admittedly, I wanted the "cute" factor of little mini-brides and a mini groom for my wedding. The entire church "oohhed and ahhhed" when the three processed down the aisle before me. They were very well behaved (although that would not have mattered to me) during the ceremony, sitting with their parents instead of standing up front with the other attendants.

Now that we've been married over 15 years, its amazing to see our little flower girls and ring bearer graduate from high school and go on to college! It certainly does not seem like that many years ago that we got married.

That said, the decision whether to include children in the ceremony is one that only the bride and groom can make based on their personal circumstances and the child(ren) to be involved. As you can see below, there are pros and cons on both sides of the equation.

If you have decided to include - or exclude - kids from a wedding ceremony, please share the reasons for your decision in the comment section below!

Pros and Cons of Including Children in a Wedding Ceremony

Pros
Cons
You can honor a relative or your own child
Your relative and/or the child may not appreciate the gesture
A child may look adorable in a fancy dress or tuxedo
The child could get the fine clothing or shoes dirty beforehand
Comic relief
Disruption of the ceremony
Photographic and/or video memories
Camera captures slip-ups or embarrassing moments forever
The child never looked better all dressed up
Flower girl and junior bridesmaids dresses are expensive; add tux rental for ring bearer
Click thumbnail to view full-size
A garden wedding ceremony may be a better setting in which to include kids
A garden wedding ceremony may be a better setting in which to include kids
A garden wedding ceremony may be a better setting in which to include kids | Source

Would You Include Children in Your Wedding Ceremony?

See results without voting

© 2012 Stephanie Hicks

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Comments 21 comments

twoseven profile image

twoseven 4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Great hub! We included my 8 year old nephew as a ring bearer and my 4 and 6 year old nieces as flower girls and it worked out really well. They were all so excited, and it has given them so many fun memories.

Recently, we also had my two year old be the ring bearer in my cousin's wedding - and your advice definitely applied - you have to be ready for anything! He walked down the aisle by himself when we practiced, but at the ceremony he wanted me to carry him (which I did) until the very end. This was fine with everyone, but I was glad we already had talked about this with my cousin as a back up plan to make sure it was ok!

Also, we had flower girls hand out dessert (locally made ice cream sandwiches) at our rehearsal dinner and they loved that special role.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks twoseven! I have participated in many weddings with youngsters that had a role in the ceremony. My middle son was only 18 months old when my sister got married, so we simply dressed him up and he stood in the photos. A little too young to be a ring bearer. I think that if the bride and groom are prepared for anything, kids can be a fun addition to a wedding. Great idea handing out the ice cream sandwiches too!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

My husband and I wanted to have a flower girl and ring bearer. They were each 5-7 years old at the time. I'm glad that they weren't any younger than that. They weren't shy at all and loved being part of the ceremony. I'm glad that it was a positive experience for everyone.

Thanks for all of the great advice on this topic!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi RC, I think 5-7 is a perfect age for flower girls and ring bearers. It can be such a positive experience for everyone when they are age-appropriate, as you note. All the best, Steph


one2get2no profile image

one2get2no 4 years ago from Olney

Hi Steph, I never realised so much planning goes into this. Awesome stuff. Thank you. Definitely a vote up!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you one2get, I have a series of wedding planning hubs I will be writing. There is a lot to consider in preparing for the big day. Appreciate the vote! Cheers, Steph


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago

Involving kids in a wedding is definitely a nice touch, not to forgot all the reasons you've listed (I say yay to all of them). Love the videos--we can all use a little comic factor. Thanks for sharing and rated up.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks! I love kids in a wedding too, and I think there can be a place for them, as long as people are prepared for a little humor or even a tantrum... I thought the videos were funny too. Glad you enjoyed it! :)


iguidenetwork profile image

iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

I think this is a great idea...


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks for the comment, iguide! Best, Steph


dipless profile image

dipless 4 years ago from Manchester

A really great hub, when (if) I finally get married the children in my life would definitely be involved. I think that it enhances a wedding. Thank you for sharing voted beautiful and interesting :)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you dipless! I agree that kids are often a beautiful, special addition to a wedding celebration. I appreciate the comment. All the best, Steph


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Steph, I loved this hub! You ask some excellent questions that ought to be at least considered by people before moving forward with their wedding plans.

I loved the sweet memories and stories, as well as the hilarious things too! The asking about having a baby and looking up under the dress was a riot! I can only imagine being there. Wonderful days and wonderful memories shared here. Loved your photos as well. Voted up, useful, awesome and beautiful and funny!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, I would love children to be at my wedding, but I got married in a register office and we had kids in the 'audience' but not with us as it was simple. but I would definitely love it as even if they misbehave it can add to the day, loved your photos! amazing! rated up and shared!


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 4 years ago

Steph your hub brought back memories of when I married my first husband. My youngest sister was four years old, she was our flower girl. Every time she dropped flowers she would turn around and see if anyone behind her stepped on them. When dad and I came down the aisle she was up in front standing beside the brides maids and yelled not to step on her flowers. I was glad that everyone laughed.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

That is such an adorable story! My sister did the same thing as the kids in one of the videos - cleaning up the flowers as the other flower girl was dropping them. Kids are so cute. Thank you for sharing your story :) Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Nell - I have oodles of photographs of flower girls and ring bearers from my sisters' and cousins' weddings. I could make an entire hub of a photo gallery. Your ceremony sounds simple and nice (no hassle). I agree that kids and their antics can add a whole new dimension to a wedding day. Best, Steph


sunbun143 profile image

sunbun143 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

You've given me lots to think about...I had 2 ringbearers & 2 flower girls (ages 5-8) at my wedding and loved them being in it. Now, my brother-in-law is getting married and my sons are his only nephews. The bride has nephews aged 5+ who will be ringbearers...should my sons (aged 2.5 and 6mths) be honorary ringbearers and just be carried down the aisle (their dad is best man)...I guess it comes down to what the bride and groom want. I'm fine with anything. Great article...


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi sunbun - excellent question! When my sister got married, my older boys were 1 and 3 1/2. They both wore little tuxedos, but didn't really serve as ringbearers. But, they sure looked adorable in the photos! Its certainly possible that your older son could have a role in the wedding, again depending on what the bride and groom want and expect. :) Sounds like fun - I love weddings! Cheers, Steph


Shannon Paigah profile image

Shannon Paigah 4 years ago from Irvine, CA

Fun and adorable moments! Including the children in the wedding vows make for a memorable experience too.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Shannon, I love kids, so of course I think it's a nice touch to have them take place in the wedding ceremony. Appreciate the comment. Cheers, Steph

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