You want everything to be perfect on your big day, and you have a clear vision of what that looks like, right down to the picture-perfect little cherubs toddling down the aisle. Your flower girl with her swinging basket of blossoms, and your ring bearer looking smart in his tiny tuxedo. Perhaps you have a junior bridesmaid or groomsman at your side.
If you are planning on having children involved in your wedding the most important thing you can do is be conscious of your expectations of them. The younger they are the more unpredictable they can be, and it’s important to understand this. With that said, having children in your ceremony can be tremendously rewarding. Even when things don’t go as planned the memories created are sure to be priceless.
Tips To Help Children Through The Ceremony
Weddings are notoriously stressful for adults. It’s obviously a big day that requires the artful coordination of details both large and small. As I’m sure you know, the best way to keep a wedding as stress-free as possible is to plan as well as you can, leave room for error, and be prepared to let some things go. This is doubly true when it comes to children at your wedding.
In the days and weeks before the wedding the activity levels reach their peak. There are last-minute fittings, parties, phone calls with vendors and relatives and friends arriving from out of town. Children may get lost in the shuffle. Then the big day arrives, and they are up and going through the last-minute rush to get ready and arrive at the wedding venue. They are dressed rather uncomfortably and keenly aware of the fact that the adults around them are on high alert. The ceremony draws nearer, and just minutes before it all happens, your ring bearer decides, quite loudly, that he will not wear his suit, or the angelic flower girl spills punch on her dress and has a full-blown melt-down. What do you do now, and how do you try to prevent it in the first place?
If you are overwhelmed, they are likely to be even more so. It is important to allow them quiet time prior to the ceremony so they don’t get so wound up that they can’t walk down the aisle. Here are some tips to keep them relaxed and happy:
Enlist the help of an adult who is not participating in the ceremony to help the children dress and look after them until the time is right. (Someone they know well would be best.)
Make sure there is food and drink, and toys and games available to keep them satisfied and occupied until they’re called on. An iPad with some cartoons ready prepped can do wonders too. (Do check if the kids have any food allergies when providing the food and drink.)
Wait to dress them until you have to. The longer they spend in constricting or overly stiff clothes, the more chance they have of becoming cranky, and also the more likely they are to get dirty.
During the ceremony don’t let the children stand around too long – those little legs get tired quickly, so have a chair ready for them. And make sure that responsible adult is on hand, and close by, to keep an eye on them.
Manage your expectations. Children are not an exact science. No matter how well you have planned and rehearsed with them, there is a chance they could go off track. The good news is that people often find these antics cute, and the photos and video are sure to be family classics.
After The Ceremony
The first and most important part of the day has gone off without a hitch. Now it’s time for the reception. You obviously want everyone to have a great time, adults and children alike. Here are some suggestions for keeping children safe and happy during the reception:
You can easily involve young children in certain parts of the reception, such as letting them throw confetti, holding signs, bringing them onto the dance floor for certain songs, and so on.
Don’t forget your photos. Get the children into the shots as soon as possible – they are more likely to sit still earlier in the day when they aren’t tired and moody, and they will be less likely to have ruined their gorgeous little outfit! Your wedding album will look a whole lot better with photos of happy, clean and smiling kids.
Back to the food and drink, remember to provide children’s drinks and (allergy free) meals.
Reserve a quiet space for parents to take young children and infants. When you have a cranky toddler on your hands it is ideal to have an “escape route”, and an area you can take them so things can calm down.
Another good idea is to set aside some space for the kids to be themselves. Perhaps provide some crayons and paper so they can collaborate on a drawing, or some toys and games. Boredom is the enemy of a happy child!
An option that is growing in popularity is hiring an ‘event nanny’ to help mind children, entertain them and allow the adults to focus on the event and enjoying themselves. A quick search should show a good selection of experienced, qualified caregivers who specialise in caring for children during events. They often bring an arsenal of toys, craft supplies, entertainment and their extensive childcare experience. They generally charge for their services by the hour, and many brides and grooms will say that the extra cost is well worth the added peace of mind and enjoyment of their event.
If you believe that children are an important part of your wedding day, do include them. A little advance planning can help ensure that your day goes smoothly for you and your guests, no matter what their age.