You may want to have a big ol’ family party with family members of all ages at your wedding. Here’s what I know. In the almost 1,000 weddings I’ve done, I’m sure there have been some less than perfect experiences with children, but I honestly cannot call even one to mind.
My experience is that children like ceremony, especially if there are parts where they get to contribute. They like the pageantry. They like being taken seriously enough to participate. It’s amazing to watch 5-year-olds repeating the pledge to support and love. And it’s a dress-up party. Up to a certain age, everyone loves to dress up! Babies who will not talk to anyone will hang out with me after a ceremony because they’ve listened to my voice for a half hour.
So if you’re going to have kids there, ask them to participate. Tweeners are plenty old enough to hand out programs or stand by guest books. Teens can usher or support in some other way. And the littles? Let them in. Here’s the truth: they’re cuter than you are. Always going to be. Might as well give them their due and get it out of the way. That way you don’t get upstaged! And their feelings get hurt if they don’t participate.
I saw a really powerful moment at a wedding. There were 5 little girls at a wedding. Four of them were flower girls. The fifth, who might have been all of three concentrated on these other girls with a look on her face that said: I could do this every bit as well as they did, and I’m going to study what they’re doing and next time they’ll choose me. And why not?
There are all sorts of ways for children to participate. My inspiration was a wedding in Sonoma. There was a big hill, the bridesmaids and the bride walked down wide steps (a nightmare, was it two steps or one to get off the steps, eeek!). But the bride had turned their 7-year-old nephews into ring heroes. They had pillows with securely tied rings, but they had CAPES. They wore their sneakers. She let them RUN down the hill. She TOLD them they had to RUN down the hill. This was something the boys could handle! It was marvelous. Everyone was so relaxed and enjoying themselves by the time the wedding started that the bride and groom didn’t remember to be nervous.
It was clear that this couple’s commitment was to building the connections in their community as well as making their own vows. It worked. This is not a couple I’ve stayed connected with, but I can promise you this: Life has happened differently in that community since that wedding. The next couple blogs will include some ideas that have worked really well with kids. If you want kids at the wedding, you may as well enjoy them!
Your love deserves nothing less!
Believing in you and your love,