children_dogs                                                   Photo by: Kristyn Hogan

It’s the perfect wedding ceremony: outdoor, great weather, beautiful, sunny day. The chairs are all filled and the bridesmaids and groomsmen have walked down the aisle. From where you stand, this moment couldn’t be anymore perfect. Each bouquet hanging on the rows is precisely arranged, lining the path that takes you to the moment you’ve been dreaming of. It’s all right there and the anticipation of the guests is lingering in the warm breeze; but just then…

Your flower girl, the beautiful young bundle of joy that she is, dressed in the most adorable little white dress that you’ve spent hours searching for, decides that suddenly, the dress is too itchy, her legs are far too tired, and this day is not something she signed up for. Panic. Tears stream down her face as her mother urges her down the aisle. She’s not throwing her flowers but throwing a fit. Halfway through her journey, she decides it’s been just far enough and down she goes. She sits and wails and cries and your previously perfect ceremony has hit a bump in the road.

This isn’t a horror story. We all know it happens on a regular basis because kids will be kids. In all reality, that little girl will get some smiles and chuckles from understanding parents in the crowd but that’s not what you had planned. And so we ask the question: Does it really work to have children in, or even at a wedding?

When I opened an invitation to my cousin’s wedding, I was shocked to read “no children” on the card. My cousin isn’t much of a kid person. She doesn’t want to have kids, doesn’t like the smell of kids or the noises they make (which I find it to be quite strange, actually). For someone that isn’t drawn to their adorable chubby cheeks and energetic personalities, this might be the best solution. For others who want to include kids (whether it be friends, relatives, or their own children) in the ceremony, there are a few things that I think could work… Or in the least, prepare you.

If the kids are old enough, give them choices- let them choose their outfit (or parts of their outfit). They’re probably going to make some pretty terrible decisions that might just be unrealistic – be willing to work with them. If you give kids the chance to feel like they’re a big part of the production, they’ll be more willing to be cooperative.

When you present children with the opportunity to be part of your wedding, make it a big deal. If you give a person (no matter what age) a sense of purpose, even to do the littlest thing like drop flower petals, they’ll be more likely to care about their task. So talk up their job and make them feel like they’re very necessary for the big day.

Ask them if they have any ideas to walk down the aisle. As adults, we set our minds and ideas in boxes. Give a child the chance to produce and express creative ideas and you might create the next big trend on Pinterest! They’ll come up with some crazy ideas but one might just work!

Directions. Directions. Directions. Remind them of what they’re doing and who they’re going to. The latter of the two is extremely important. Pick someone at the front of the aisle to direct them too. Imagine being a small kid and having hundreds of eyes on you! Give them something to find before they start walking so they know where they have to be.

Practice. You can’t just expect a child to understand what they need to do from being told a few times. Walk through it with them. If you can make it feel almost habitual for them, they’re going to have a much easier time the day of.

My sister had her fiance’s nephew as the ring bearer for their wedding and one of his mom’s biggest concerns was that he would lose the ring or walk to fast or not walk at all. They gave him an outfit just like the groomsmen – everything matched from the tie to the shoes. He was excited to have a part because he felt like one of the “big boys.” They gave him rings to carry but didn’t tell him that they weren’t the real ones and he couldn’t tell the difference. I stood at the back of the aisle with him, walked him through his part and quizzed him on it too. He walked down that aisle with more pride and excitement than I’ve ever seen.

For children that attend the wedding, there are tons of things to do with them to make it an exciting day for them. Depending on the number and ages of the kids, you can have mini tables for them (this is especially helpful if there are families with a number of kids). They’re probably not going to be interested in your salmon and gourmet potatoes, so get them personal pizzas or chicken fingers just for them. Help them pass time by creating fun wedding coloring books with word games and pictures to color with their crayon centerpieces. For something like this, it might even be helpful to invite a family friend or two to solely serve as a form of childcare. Kids can be unpredictable, which makes none of this set in stone and the perfect planner; but there’s something that I find to be so special about having kids around on that special day. If you want them to be there, try to make it fun for everyone!

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