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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.
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?
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?
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
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.
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?
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
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
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
Would You Include Children in Your Wedding Ceremony?
© 2012 Stephanie Hicks