While some couples can’t imagine a wedding without a ring bearer or flower girl (“Oh, they’re just so cute, and who cares if they don’t make it down the aisle without having a temper tantrum! That just adds to the wedding day memories!”), other couples are on the total opposite side of the fence (“I swear if one little kid is crying while I’m walking down the aisle, I’m going to be pissed!!”). Having kids in your wedding is totally a personal decision, and there certainly is no right or wrong answer.
As a bride, I opted to not have any kids in my wedding (or even really AT my wedding, but that’s a whole other blog post for another day!), but as a wedding planner, I’m dealing with kiddos in weddings all the time. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to having children in a wedding, so if you are considering going the ring bearer or flower girl route, check out these do’s and don’ts for the best chance for success.
First, the DO’s:
- Do communicate clearly with the kids’ parents about your expectations. A flower girl or ring bearer is just as much a part of your wedding party as the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Make sure to communicate your plans for the kids, such as what you’re wanting them to wear, what events they need to attend, and what time and where they need to show up on the wedding day. With the window for when kids are most appropriate to be in a wedding (ages 3 to 6), it’s very likely that this is the first time they’ve taken on this role, so it’s new to both the kid and the parent. Making sure to communicate everything you’re expecting is definitely the way to go.
- Do plan ahead for the needs of children in the wedding. Sure, it’s not completely your responsibility to make sure all their tiny little kid needs are met, but thinking about them a bit during the planning process will certainly maximize their chance for success on the wedding day. It’s unreasonable to expect a three year old to go a whole day without a nap. Or without a snack. Or without some kind of toy or activity. Or without dropping food on their clothes! Make sure to plan ahead for the kids…. you definitely don’t want a flower girl fussing because she’s missed a nap or is hungry.
- Do plan for the additional expenses. Adding children to your wedding adds to the overall event expenses – a ring bearer pillow, extra boutonniere, flower girl basket, petals for tossing – and this assumes that the parents are covering the cost of their tiny dresses and tuxes. If you’re on an extremely tight budget, these additional costs are worth considering.
And… the DON’TS:
- Don’t have kids under the age of three in the wedding. A very intelligent 2 1/2 year old, maybe. But ring bearers and flower girls under the age 3 are generally harder to predict. And to control. And to give instruction to. While they may be super cute, their tiny brains are just less likely to understand and retain the information on what they are supposed to do. Sure, I have had a two year old make it down the aisle before, but it’s just a LOT more work to make it happen. Honestly… I always cringe when I have a couple tell me their 18-month-old niece is going to be the flower girl (“She’ll turn two right before the wedding!”). And then I try to talk them out of it.
- Don’t have the kids stand for the entire ceremony. Having a young child standing quietly and paying attention for an entire wedding ceremony is such a nice idea. But, c’mon… do you really think that’s how it’s going to go down?! An adorable flower girl with a short attention span doing pirouettes during the ceremony is the thing comedy routines are made of, and while it might land you on America’s Funniest Videos or Tosh.O, it may not be the ceremony memory you are hoping for! Avoid having a cute kiddo taking away the focus from the ceremony by not having the flower girl or ring bearer stand at the front with the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Instead, I almost always have my ring bearers and flower girls process down the aisle and then immediately sit down with their parents for the duration of the ceremony. You’ll still get the cute photos of them, but they can be comfortably tucked away under the supervision of their parents.
- Don’t expect a kid to act like an adult. Let’s get real for a minute… kids can be unpredictable. Even the most outgoing child can decide they’re too shy to be in the spotlight on the wedding day. And the most well-behaved kid can have an unexpected temper tantrum. The thing is… they’re kids! You just never know what a four or five-year-old is going to do (or not do) on the wedding day. If you opt to have children in your wedding, you have to lower your expectations and not expect them to have the maturity, poise, (or bladder control skills) of the rest of your wedding party.
- Don’t be afraid to pull the plug. The ceremony rehearsal is a great chance to give the kids in your wedding a test drive. If your flower girl or ring bearer can’t make it down the aisle during the ceremony rehearsal without having a major meltdown, it may be time to pull the plug on the idea. Forcing a flower girl or ring bearer to perform is just a recipe for disaster. No need to scar them for life!
So, what do you think? Is having kids in your wedding something you’re into?
P.S. The super cute flower girl photo in my blog graphic was taken by the super talented Celina Gomez Photography.