Things to Consider Before Including Children in Your Wedding Party

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We’ve all been to those weddings.

The ones where we can’t help but ooh and ahh at the overwhelming cuteness coming from the wedding party. The cute mini tuxedo’s and mini princess dresses. Delicious! The cutie pies walking down the aisle with the petals (not quite doing what they’re supposed to be doing, but it doesn’t matter because they look as cute as hell).

Until there’s a sudden turn in events. You didn’t quite see it coming, but said cutie pie now looks like the devil, screaming, having an unusually extended tantrum in the middle of the ceremony, messing up their gorgeous wedding attire, shouting “No” at every opportune moment and guests are suddenly not quite sure wether or not to laugh or be embarrassed for the couple, or both! Yup those moments. 

Joining me with a guest post today to discuss this little matter is wedding photographer San of Sanshine Photography and a handful of other wedding industry professionals who have seen it all and have many an interesting tale to tell involving children at weddings.

Hit it San!

If you grew up on romantic movies about weddings, you most likely have always envisioned having an adorable little flower girl or ring bearer (or both!) as part of your big day. Pinterest is filled with endless photos of sweet little dresses and tiny tuxes for your little bridal party members, and the temptation to take the overall cuteness of your wedding to a whole new level is so, so strong!

But before you decide on including small children into your wedding, please ask yourself these 3 questions:

1) Will they really enjoy it?

 

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For an adult, and especially the adult whose big day it is, a wedding is a wonderful occasion. The morning preparations, the music, the beautiful outfits… Ah! Who could ask for a better way to spend the day? Well, the answer to that is – a kid. You see, to a child the best day is a day when they can play and do what they want.

So imagine how your special day feels to them…

They are made to wear uncomfortable outfits they are not used to, paired with impractical shoes that (although very sparkly and cute) might hurt their feet, they are probably ignored while everyone is getting ready, then get taken away from their toys and paraded down the aisle without really fully understanding why, after which they get told to stay quiet and still for the whole duration of what even to some adults feels like an eternity during a ‘boring’ ceremony!

And then, ‘mean’ photographers make them pose for group photographs instead of playing with the other cool kids who are just guests at the wedding.

If you really want them to enjoy your big day, always consider catering to their needs and making sure they are looked after and entertained during the ‘boring’ adult parts of the day like the ceremony and the speeches.

2) Are you just thinking of yourself?

 

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Be honest with yourself,  are you making this little one your ring bearer or flower girl because it’s something they would want, or is it because they will look adorable in your wedding pictures?

And before you say that it’s because they ‘love weddings’, please appreciate that even if little Sally loves playing wedding with her Barbies, you can’t assume she is really ready to have all eyes and cameras on her while she walks down the never-ending aisle full of strangers in a giant intimidating church.

As a wedding photographer whose role is to document that moment amongst others, I’ve seen it all: I’ve seen little girls drop their flower baskets and run to their mums in panic because they didn’t like the staring crowd.

I’ve seen ring bearers cry and refuse to take another step because of the unexpected pressure.

One flower girl walked the whole way down with a look on her face as if she was fearing for her life – (Nu Bride: Poor little love!) endless guest cameras flashing her in the face absolutely terrified her.

So please, please, please think of the child’s emotional well-being before just adding them to your bridal party for the sake of your wedding aesthetic preferences.

 

Picture this…

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I was at the wedding to style the Bride. Her young children were supposed to be with the chief bridesmaid & anywhere but near the sanctity of the bridal suite where we were. So fast forward to just before the ceremony & before me is the bridal party descending the stairs at Stoke Park, getting into formation, when the bride asks where her son AKA the ‘best man’ is? A question which is met with blank & then quizzical expressions but very little movement.

So random bridal party man & I go hunting for a 7-year-old who we find on the floor sulking in the brides bathroom. To my bemusement random bridal party man then proceeds to pad the boy down like a bouncer in a nightclub looking for the wedding rings. Rings found, I was left to talk down the best man who had a fight with his sister & explain that he could resume the sulking OR the fighting in about half an hour BUT first he had to be very grown up & go downstairs for mummy & daddy & do this very grown up & important job. Who knows how I pulled it off but I emerged at the top of the staircase triumphantly clutching the best man’s little hand & the ceremony went ahead with no more hitches. Chantal Mallet, dress designer

Baie and ElleBaie and Elle

Our little boy who was ring bearer, point-blank refused to walk down the aisle with me or carry the rings – he carried his toy car instead. During the ceremony he hugged my husband’s leg the whole time shouting ‘Daddy!’ Everyone laughing at him just encouraged him more and he thought it was hilarious. Honestly, I think it eased both of our nerves and it was nice to fill the silence with laughter! Hannah Oliver, newlywed

I’m a celebrant, in one of my weddings, a 3-year-old boy had the rings, we practiced lots but when the time came for him to come up he declared he needed a wee and ran out of the room!

I also did a hand-fasting this summer where the couple’s 2 and 5-year-old children laid ribbons across their hands. Poor little girl didn’t want to give up her ribbon and tried to snatch the whole thing away. I managed to get her another one but she was determined and ended up in tears grabbing her mum’s leg and being a bit dribbly on her mum’s silk dress. Just had to roll with it and explain how special it is that they want to be so involved! Holly Smith, Celebrant

I’ll never forget the 3 page-boys (brides sons) who were “giving the bride away” and preceded her walking down the aisle. Son 1 was hogging the petals, so son 2 grabbed the basket and tipped it all up in one spot instead of scattering and son 3 burst into tears and ran off. It all was totally not as planned but everyone laughed and smiled and it set the tone for what was a beautiful fun ceremony. Let’s face it you can’t control kids!!’ Kelly, The Bespoke Wedding Company

It would be easy to get really stressed and try to pause things while upset children in the bridal party calm down, but the reality is that the couple have chosen their children to be involved so I respect their wishes. When I’m in the planning stage I’ll make sure they know what could happen and discuss how I should approach it, and try to spend some time with the children involved beforehand to make sure they’re really comfortable. Having a mic helps because then I can almost always carry on and still be heard above them! Holly Smith, Celebrant

3. Did you ask them?

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A lot of my couples say that they come under pressure from family to have their little nieces/nephews/friend’s  {insert applicable} children be part of the wedding so they ‘don’t feel left out’, but the idea that they may feel left out or upset about not being part of the wedding party somehow always comes from the grown-ups, never from the children themselves.

Sound familiar…?

‘You have to make Billy your ring bearer, he is family too you know!’

If a situation like this arises, talk to Billy and ask, if this is something he would be happy doing? If you think he is too young for you to be asking him directly, consider if he is too young to be playing a role in your wedding. However, if not, talk to them, without applying any pressure whatsoever, explain fully what their responsibilities would be – not the shortened and overly excited version of ‘you’re going to carry this cushion for your auntie, okay?’ version, but the full, version. If they lose focus and get bored or unhappy listening to you explain what you want them to do, they will definitely get bored or unhappy actually doing it!

So to summarise, please make sure that if you do include children into your wedding party, you have thought everything through and know them well enough to be certain that it will be what they want and will enjoy. Please don’t treat children as glorified accessories. Talk to them, appropriately include them and always, always have a plan B in case they change their minds last-minute or need to be entertained!

As much as we joke and jest at cute little ones upstaging the wedding couple, being the centre of attention and out of your comfort zone is a big deal for many adults I know, let alone children.

I think Kelly at Bespoke Wedding Company summed this up perfectly. Young children cannot be controlled. So plan ahead, manage yours and if they are old enough, their expectations too, triple check the reason you want them involved is for the right reasons, and if so, cater to their needs. Consider that just like us, they may become completely distressed and overwhelmed too and it may not be within their best interest to give them such a big responsibility. Have adults on hand to help and be flexible and open to the fact that the perfectly formed rehearsal may not go to plan! You can read more on how to include children at weddings can be found here and here.

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Join the conversation! Do you have some interesting tales to tell involving little ones? Still undecided as to whether or not to involve them in your wedding day?

The Talent

Unless otherwise stated, photography by Sanshine Photography

 

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One Response to “Things to Consider Before Including Children in Your Wedding Party”

  1. San
    November 27, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

    Thank you so much for featuring and for encouraging this conversation, Nova!

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