Ahhh the memories, the joy, the...surprises! Everyone has fond memories of the adorable flower girl and ring bearer coming down the aisle with smiles and nervousness and occasionally a few tears. But depending on the child, even the smallest role in a wedding ceremony can be frightening and a little overwhelming and trying to keep kids happy getting to and down the aisle may be more work than you think.
Knowing the how to deal with kids in a high pressure wedding environment is crucial to insuring that everyone makes it through unscathed. If you want to have children in your wedding, here are some tips to allow everyone to enjoy the big day and create happy memories for all.
TIP: Always invite children who are special to you in some way; your nieces, nephews, special friends, students, god-children or your own little ones are connected to you emotionally and will respond well to your emotion and excitement. Be advised: kids you know and love will create a far more charming day than those you added in just to have a cuter bridal party and photos.
Remember that children can change their minds and feelings rapidly: a “yes” from a small child three months before the event may change to an emphatic “no” [and vice versa!] on the big day. If a small child balks at the last minute, honor their fear! Forcing a child to do something they are uncomfortable with will leave all of you scarred. Offer a less scary alternate: waving ‘bye bye’ or blowing kisses or bubbles as bridal party walks back up the aisle after ceremony ends. Older children [10-14] will need junior bridesmaid or groomsmen positions as the traditionally younger role of Flower Girl and Ring Bearer may insult their feelings.
Get childcare, get childcare, get childcare.... Even if you don’t opt for professional childcare or a hotel room for kids, consider appointing a responsible adult guest or family member as a ‘child – wrangler’ [okay designated kid - watcher] in advance if you plan on having a lot of children in attendance. Just knowing one person is keeping an eye on whether they need more ketchup (or even uh oh....where did all the ketchup go?!). If they are staying occupied with treats and toys helps everyone enjoy the day! Do yourself and your friends with children a favor and hire a pro childcare team for your at your wedding. Check out San Diego Event Nanny...
Ways to incorporate children into your wedding:
FOR THE CEREMONY:
- Have your Flower girl ring a bell and say “the bride is coming, the bride is coming!"
- Have children be pages and carry the bride's train.
- Have your Flower Girl pull a wagon decorated with flowers or candles to hand out to guests.
- Have Flower Girl carry a sign or a parasol to match event.
- For babies; decorate a baby stroller to have a junior attendant push down aisle.
FOR THE RECEPTION:
Children and even preteens [usually found sulking in the corner] will be more prone to hitting the dance floor if they hear familiar music. Ask kids in advance for their fave pop songs to be sure your DJ has them.
Play the kid friendly music earlier in the evening before kids run out of steam.
Occupy kids when they’re not dancing with a crafts table with crayons, paper and supplies.
- Hire a professional babysitting service to monitor children at reception or in a nearby hotel room.
MEALTIME TIPS TO KEEP KIDS HAPPY:
Food is a highly charged issue for children. Having easy and familiar foods available for children at your reception will alleviate problems and allow parents to enjoy the event too!
Have a kid’s buffet - keep it low to the ground but grown up with chafing dishes [no sterno!] and condiments etc.
Always remember: Kids love ketchup!
Ask your caterer to create a special kid friendly menu with favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers, French fries and mac 'n cheese.
Be sure to ask parents about food allergies in advance.
- Mini wedding cakes, cake pops or personalized cupcakes make a fun kid-friendly finish to the meal.
Most importantly stay cool...one of the greatest secrets to enjoying anything in life is to retain a childlike perspective, so enjoy planning your wedding with children involved and all the surprises that unfold with childlike wonder and abandon.
Amazing images all by SheWanders Photography xoxo (don't you love it when a photographer clearly adores kids and can capture the best in them? We do! That's one of the many reasons we love Suzanne Hansen and her whole team)