Having kids in your wedding party can go from magical Disney levels of happiness to a terrible twos tantrum real quick if you don’t play by the rules. If you’re inviting children to be a part of your wedding party, you’re going to want to be prepared.
Don’t get us wrong! It can be a lot of fun and very meaningful to have specials kids in your life play a role on your wedding day. But it can also be stressful. And the last thing you need right now is more stress. So check out our 10 rules for having kids in your wedding party below!
Reminder: You don’t have to have kids in your wedding party
Before we dive in, we just want to remind you that having kids in your wedding party is not mandatory. You don’t have to do it! If you don’t have any children you’re close to, it’s not worth the hassle of recruiting your second cousin’s twin sons, who you’ve only met once, just to try and get some cute wedding photos (spoiler alert: those cute photos don’t come easy!). Having children in your wedding is a lot of work and you shouldn’t be scraping the barrel of kids you kind-of know just to find two cute five year olds to hold some flowers.
Of course, if you do have important children in your life (like maybe, your own!), you should absolutely include them in your wedding. And here’s how you do it:
Don’t give them anything valuable
The idea of an adorable ring bearer coming down the aisle is enough to elicit a round of “Awwwws” from almost anyone. But do you know what’s not so adorable? Turning around five minutes before the ceremony to find out that sweet little Taylor has totally misplaced the rings! Rule #1 when it comes to children in wedding parties: Do not give them anything valuable!
Instead of allowing your ring bearer to hold onto the rings, consider giving the rings to an adult member of the wedding party and having your little ring bearer be strictly symbolic. If you do want your child ring bearer to carry the rings, make sure you give them to her or him just a minute before he or she walks down the aisle – and that someone is keeping an eye on the bling at all times!
This goes for anything else you consider valuable on your wedding day. Children are awesome but mistakes happen, especially when you’re trusting a five year old to wear a special irreplaceable heirloom bracelet from grandma!
Make outfits as easy as possible
We’ve all seen the photos of kids decked out in tiny suits or full tulle skirts. And they’re adorable! But they aren’t always the best choice. Besides the cute factor, you need to think about a few other things when it comes to kids’ outfits.
First of all, is the outfit comfortable? You might be willing to squeeze into too-tight shoes for the day but you can’t expect the same of a 10 year old. Is the outfit complicated? Are there a million buttons or a special way they need to sit in it? Think about whether an outfit like that is realistic for the child you have in mind. Does the outfit match the weather? You don’t want anyone in your wedding party to freeze during a winter wedding, but you especially don’t want to deal with a frozen child!
In addition to the look and feel of the outfit, you also need to think about the price. We might tell ourselves that, of course, our adult wedding party members will wear their outfits again and again (spoiler alert: they will not) but the same can’t be said for growing children. Think twice before you ask their parents to shell out hundreds of dollars on an outfit, especially if they have multiple children in your wedding party.
Know things might not go perfectly to plan
No wedding day ever goes 100% perfectly to plan. And that’s okay! Because imperfect weddings still end up being pretty perfect when you look back on them. But it’s important to keep this in mind when thinking about the children in your wedding party and the duties you’ve assigned to them. There’s a very good chance that when you trust something to an eight year old, it won’t turn out exactly as planned.
Children can get stage fright. Even the most bubbly and outgoing child may become frozen in their tracks when faced with a room full of adults staring at them as they walk down the aisle. Kids can get exhausted and tired. The wedding day is long, even for adults, so lots of children won’t make it through without a nap. Children can get sick and might even spread those germs around the wedding party. They can forget things, from their shoes to the right time to make their entrance.
Of course, not all children do all of these things. But it’s important to keep in mind that something could come up. If you go in with this mindset, and have a plan B in place, you’ll be able to stress less on your big day.
Give them time to be kids
Even though we dress kids up like little brides and grooms on the wedding day (can we talk about how creepy that is?) they are, in fact, not tiny adults. Kids are kids! And even on your wedding day, they’ll need some time to just be themselves.
If you are planning for the children in your wedding party to spend all day with you, posing for photos and waiting around, you’re going to end up with some grumpy kids on your hands. Create time in their schedule for them to play, nap, eat or hang out with other kids at your wedding.
If you’re having children in your wedding party and at your wedding, keep that in mind when planning your day. You need to make things child-friendly. If the theme of your reception is “free drinks” that might not work for the under 19 crowd. Incorporate a family friendly atmosphere with kid-friendly food, a fun non-alcohol drink and songs they’ll recognize. You may even want to set up games or a special space for all of the kids at your wedding to hang out.
Enlist some help
As you probably expect, a wedding day can be very overwhelming and stressful. Despite all of your prep work beforehand, there’s still lots you have to do on the day. And the last thing you probably want to be doing is taking your flower child to use the bathroom when the DJ is cueing up your first dance song.
So enlist some help! If you’re not the parent of the child(ren) in your wedding party, ask their parents to get involved. Speak with them ahead of time to let them know what the day will look like and when you might need their support. If you are their parent, or their parent is also in the wedding party, ask a helpful aunt or grandfather to be on hand and ready to take over child minding duties when needed.
Think through what their wedding day role will be
You want to ensure the role your little wedding attendant plays in your day is appropriate for their age and meaningful to both of you. Of course, just being a member of the wedding party is quite meaningful but you can add additional roles to really honour the children in your life.
For example, older children can be tasked with doing a reading at the ceremony or giving a speech at the reception. Keep in mind our tip above about things not going to plan, and have a back up plan, like an adult who can help them out if they get stage fright. Younger children can be given the honour of accompanying you down the aisle, holding your bouquet or joining you on the dance floor for a special song.
Take time to make the children in your wedding party feel important. It’s your day but it’s a big moment for them too. You can do this with one of the roles we suggested, or with something as simple as spending some quality time with them. If you don’t have time on the day, you can do it before or after the wedding. For example, make them feel like a celebrity when you go outfit shopping or present them with a special wedding party thank you gift after the big day.
Limit the time you need them
That sounds harsh but trust us, it’s an important rule! This won’t be the case for all children but for the most part, you want to limit the amount of time you’re requiring of your wedding party kids. If you keep them with you all day, they can get bored, restless, grumpy and/or exhausted.
For example, if you’re doing hair and makeup, schedule your mini attendant to go last so he or she isn’t waiting around forever while everyone else gets their hair and makeup done. Let them get dressed in another room with their parents, so they don’t get overwhelmed with all of the people and cameras around. During your photo session, take all the photos you want with the children first, and then send them off while you take more photos with your adult attendants. You may even consider letting the children sit during your ceremony, as not every kid is able to stand and pay attention for the length of an entire ceremony.
A rehearsal is vital
If you’re having a full size wedding ceremony, we believe you need to have a rehearsal. We often hear people say, “But I know how to walk in a straight line. Why do I have to practice?” The rehearsal is about much more than learning how to walk straight. It’s everything from walking in, where to stand, what to do and when to exit. Your officiant will walk you through the ceremony and let you know exactly what is going to happen and when. It’s the perfect time to get everyone on the same page, work out any problems and ask questions.
And a rehearsal is absolutely vital if you’re going to have kids in your wedding party. Kids won’t have as much experience attending weddings, so it can be very helpful for them to understand what’s going to happen ahead of time. Practicing their role is the best way to help them feel comfortable and confident on the big day. At a rehearsal, the children in your party can get a clear idea of what they’re supposed to be doing.
We’re not saying a rehearsal guarantees a smooth, tear-free walk down the aisle but it definitely helps!
Default to their parents
The best rule for having kids in your wedding party: default to their parents. We’ve talked a lot about what kids will and won’t do in this post but the truth is, every child is different. And while a wedding might bring out some new behaviour in them, their parents know them best.
So before you even ask a child to be in your wedding party, chat with their parents and ask some questions. Does their child like being the centre of attention? Can their child stay focused? Is their child comfortable in front of a crowd? Does their kid need to run around and blow off some energy beforehand? Would their child be more comfortable performing the role with a cousin or sibling for support?
Of course, if you are the parent, you can ask yourself these questions too. You know your child best and know what they would and wouldn’t be comfortable with. Just because you’ve seen photos of cute ring bearers and flower children, doesn’t mean that’s the right choice for your wedding or the kids in your life.
Are you planning to have kids in your wedding party?
written by Riana Ang-Canning