Having children in the wedding is a preference issue. There are no right or wrong answers, as well as no hard and fast rules. There are some considerations however, that the planning bride may want to consider.
1. Children under four are unpredictable. If a flower girl or ring bearer is young, he or she may not follow through with walking down the aisle, even if rehearsed perfectly the evening before. So brides-- always be prepared to implement a contingency plan.
2. For the ring bearer, regardless of the age, the rings on the pillow should be “pretend”. The real rings are usually given to the honor attendants or to the clergy. Two disasters can occur if the real rings are attached to the ring pillow. First, the knots must be secure in order to avoid becoming untied, this usually means the best man cannot get the knots untied during the ceremony. Second, the rings are not tied securely and they fall off the pillow.
3. Children like to run and play which usually leads to getting tussled or dirty. The stress parents place on children to “act nice’ and “not get dirty” is sometimes not a pretty sight. Weddings are often formal and are considered worship services so keep this in mind when selecting children. If a child usually follows instructions, he or she will probably be great. Conversely, children who usually misbehave do not suddenly become well-mannered after being invited to participate in a wedding ceremony.
4. Guests who bring infants or small children are usually considerate and leave the ceremony if crying begins. However, there are those who believe that sound of a crying child is perfectly acceptable. As a matter of fact, you the bride may share this view. If you do not want to hear children speaking loudly or crying, you may want to alert your greeters or house staff to direct parents to a nursery if necessary. If you know in advance that many of your guests have children, it may be a good idea to hire a sitter for the hour during the ceremony. While some children can sit quietly for an hour, most cannot.
5. It’s a good idea to have the parents sit in the first row of the temple or sanctuary, in order that children participating in the ceremony may sit during the wedding service, after the processional. If possible the children can always walk out during the recessional or be escorted out after the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom at the end of the ceremony.
6. Bringing children to the reception is a touchy subject. The bride needs to think of what kind of event she has in mind. Children can change the tone of the reception. This can be good or not so good, depending on personal preference. Some brides love the inclusiveness of all generations, others believe that receptions, like dance clubs, are no place for children. And a note for brides, if children are on the dance floor hopping around, adults will usually not dance. Someone will have the dreadful task of asking parents to keep the children off the dance floor.
7. Also during receptions, children are sometimes left to run wild. This can be dangerous not only for the child but also for wait staff and other vendors trying to provide services. So, if children are to be invited, consider engaging a sitter to keep them occupied. They can watch videos, play games or nap, while the parents can have a great night out with good music, great food and no need to worry about the children.
Lastly, some brides want lots of children participating in the wedding ceremony. For those weddings, consider having the children enter two-by-two holding hands. I have seen children come down the aisle being pulled in a wagon, still others have marched down in perfect unison while carrying candle lighters or ringing bells. This April, I know a mother of a bride who will be escorted by her 6 year old grandson. These and other ideas help to create an intergenerational ceremony and children almost always are adorable. Be creative, yet as mentioned earlier be FLEXIBLE because children will always be children.