Tiny Human Attendants

by admin on June 16, 2010

It’s the prime wedding season in the US and without a doubt, dozens or even hundreds of readers have attended a wedding in which tiny humans are compelled to participate in wedding ceremonies as ringbearers and flower girls.

I really dislike tiny ringbearers and flower girls.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore children. I have three of my own and can’t wait for grandchildren. But when it comes to a wedding ceremony, tiny children under the age of 5 should not be involved at all. Zip. Nada. Keep them out of the ceremony.

Why?

1. In my experiences, children under 5 are rarely asked if they want this “honor”. They are nearly always compelled to participate. Even if they were asked, they have no idea what they are agreeing to do because their limited life experiences doesn’t include marching down an aisle in front of hundreds of people, many whom look like strangers. I have witnessed adults have panic attacks just before processing yet for some reason people think a toddler can handle this same pressure.

2. Children are not props. In 25 years of wedding planning, I can’t recall a single instance where a flower girl or ringbearer was given any input into what they were wearing. Their “costume” was provided for them and they are expected to wear it. As alleged members of the wedding party, they are afforded the least respect as to whether they want to do this and what they will wear. When brides treat adult attendants in this manner, we refer to them as Bridezillas. If you had a “mini me” toddler flower girl, shame on you. You used her as a prop to flatter your ego.

Years ago one of my brides wanted to include two twin 18-month nieces in her processional. They were to be wheeled into the ceremony in a decorated wagon. “Who is being served by you doing this?”, I asked the bride. “I doubt, at 18 months old, that the girls are going to find this fun so it’s not serving them. Their mother is the Matron of Honor and she may be very distracted if they see her and cry for her so she’s not going to be served by this. Your guests? I think they’ll survive not having that visual memory.” My bride decided to not include the babies since it was really not in the babies’ or mother’s best interest to attempt this. The wedding went off flawless but more importantly, the babies and mom were stress-free and happy.

3. I know there are those of you reading this at the moment and feeling your indignation rise like mercury in a Florida thermometer because you had tiny humans in your wedding. I’m sure there are many, many Youtube videos of adorable flower girls and ringbearers who loved every minute of the limelight. They “steal the show”. Well, therein lies the problem. A wedding ceremony is not a “show” and toddler attendants can completely distract the emphasis of the ceremony from solemn vow making to entertaining guests with a version of “Wedding Romper Room”.

In the video below, the toddler Maia is acting predictably for a toddler and she’s not happy about the whole situation. Her older brother clearly is old enough to know what he’s getting into and he’s enjoying himself. Maia should have never been involved in the wedding, however, because she’s simply too young to understand what she is doing or the significance of the event.

In the first part of this next video, the “baby” (and yes, he is referred to that by someone) should never have been expected to walk down the aisle like this. Goodness gracious, he looks adorable in that tiny tuxedo but sending him alone down that aisle was a recipe for failure. At the very least, his father or mother should have processed with him. In the second half, the ringbearer was clearly not well rehearsed as to what was happening with the flower girl’s petals.

I can translate the baby gibberish this infant is spewing. “Why? Why? Why did you put me in this stiff dress and this headache inducing headband? I was just a prop in your grandiose affair! Stupid Bridezilla!”

You tell them, Maggie!

{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty June 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Wow….tell us how you really feel. No where is those in those videos was the wedding ruined or anyone inconvienced, least of all the child. And the bride and groom probably loved it. This might be one persons opnion, but glad to say very few people I know share it. Gonna agree with a PP on this very “sanctimonious & condescending” article.

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Me June 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm

auntmeegs, you’re 100% right, it is a matter of preference and opinion – and I was expressing my preference and opinion when I said that I think it’s selfish and criminal. I never said that it was out and out wrong.

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Jellie June 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm

|._.|…ummm, ookkkaayyyyy….Kids in general are usually cute to being with, regardless of what they are wearing…They could run around nakkid, and people would still think that’s cute(depending on the age…methinks round 1 or 2yrs…). There are plenty of kids(little girls as far as I’ve seen) who LOVE to dress up in pretty dresses, and would refuse to take them off! Though I do agree that you should never force a child to walk down an aisle, wear something that they obviouly are gonna tear off at the event given the oppourtunity, and who has a history of throwing fits because of nervousness or because their scared. That’s just terrible. BUT if the child in question is absoutly thrilled to participate in the wedding, then why not?

I aggree with Laura though, the way the writer has written this entry is extreamly negative, and judgemental. Who are you to judge? Just because you been to many many weddings and helped others bring theirs together doesn’t mean you can say that children should never be involoved with the event. If the children are family, and the bride and groom want their family, then who are you to say they can’t and shouldn’t? The bride and groom should be abel to have whatever kind of ceremony they want(withinn some limitis, such as laws and what not…). It does not have to be something solemn, if they want it to be fun and lighthearted, then they can have it that way. And why shouldn’t the B&G’s children be present?! You make it sound like they have something to be ashamed of because they have children before they married! “It’s yucky!” Shut up! You know what your face is yucky, and so is your heart for trying to exclud children just because they were born out wedlock. And i know that’s not the only reason that was stated, but it is the most digusting in my opnion.

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admin June 18, 2010 at 5:37 am

Jellie,

After 20 years of coordinating weddings, my observation is that small children who love being in a wedding are the exception, not the rule. I started my career thinking the same as many people do, i.e. that flower girls and ringbearers are cute and can have a place in a wedding. Nervous adult attendants would fidgit, chew gum like a cow chews a cud right before processing, swig too much alcohol, or hyper-ventilate just from the stress. Even had one faint. Small children are even less equipted than adults to cope at managing their anxiety so they act it out. Time and after time I witnessed distraught, anxious, tired, overwhelmed children have meltdowns. I began to wonder why someone would put children in a situation where the odds were very high that the child would fail.

And in my experiences, I’ve noted that the older the officiant is, the more they will also agree that engaged couples should be discouraged from planning on including children in the ceremony. These officiants have officiated at many, many weddings and have often seen it all. Several pastors I work with do not allow children in ceremonies at all. This is not based on a dislike of children (they often have their own large families) but rather a profound care for children that extends to not using them as a cuteness factor prop in a wedding ceremony.

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Chocobo! June 17, 2010 at 9:30 pm

It seems like some guests need to relax a little. Small children in a wedding has never really bothered me, except when they are mini-brides (which is just weird) or dressed inappropriately. They provide a bit of levity on an otherwise stressful day — and let’s face it for us guests, probably otherwise boring ceremony.

It seems to me in the first video especially that it is the mother’s problem more so than the flower girls’. Instead of just letting her do her thing with the flower petals, she all but scolds her for not doing it right and pushes her down the aisle. Well it’s no wonder that little Flower Girl is on the verge of a tantrum after that! Mom is clearly stressing, Flower Girl is getting the brunt of/picking up on that stress and reacting normally.

The second video seems more typical — the REALLY tiny baby with the teddy bear gets most of the way down the aisle and doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing, true. He probably should have been escorted by an adult. The older two children only had one moment of confusion at the start, and did fine the rest of the way down.

What I notice most about all of the videos is not children being put on display, or upset wedding parties, or stressed out parents, but laughter. And I hope that on my wedding day, the day is full of laughter. Much better than trying to keep a stiff upper lip — who wants to go to a wedding where no one laughs?

Clearly for young children, contingency plans should be put in place in case they back out or misbehave. I don’t know why anyone would force children to stand for a 1/2 hour on the altar either, even at age 10 I don’t know a child alive who wouldn’t start getting fidgety.

I also agree that hiding children borne before marriage is just silly. Nuptials are about breaking off from the old family and creating a new one — traditionally that would be just the bride and the groom, along with their “future children”, but since now (and then, I might add) some people have children before marriage, it follows that they should be included in the spiritual creation of the family unit. They ARE that family, after all.

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admin June 18, 2010 at 5:07 am

So, Chocobo, it is acceptable to place small children in a situation where, when they fail to execute the task properly, they are center stage for being the subject of laughter by dozens of people? While there are certainly adults who have the grace to laugh with others who are laughing at them, many adults would have a difficult time being in that position. Why this belief that somehow small children are better equipted, emotionally, than many adults to be laughed at?

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Tara June 17, 2010 at 9:36 pm

As long as the ceremony isn’t harming anyone, then the couple should be able to do anything they want. I see no harm coming to these children. If they want to have a vampire theme, with blood and gore, that’s their business. They’re the ones who have to answer to their families if they invite grandma to it, and she freaks out.

And it is about the couple. What purpose, exactly, is a wedding supposed to fulfill in society? I thought that the wedding served the purpose of marrying the couple, not making everyone else happy. You can’t please everyone as it is, so SOMEONE’S bound to be offended, no matter what you do, if you invite enough people. Someone offended that the flowers are tacky, someone’s offended that the bride DARED to wear white when she’s not a virgin, someone offended by children! Sheesh!

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jenna June 18, 2010 at 9:27 am

Tara – I totally get where you’re coming from with “someone will be offended that the bride dared to wear white even though she’s not a virgin” but – did you realize that white is not at all a traditional symbol of virginity? Blue was the old color of purity. White, like in Asia, was for mourning…until about 150 years ago. That’s not a very long time given human cultural and social history – hardly long enough to be a real societal tradition. Of course, guests don’t always know that (plenty of people DO believe that white = virgin), but anyone who gets offended over a non-virginal bride in a white dress needs to go read a history book.

Heck, my own family was in uproar because I’ll be wearing red on my wedding day. (I just don’t like white, and it’s not REALLY a tradition, so I see no reason why I should have to wear it).

Anyway, I also wanted to note two things about kids in weddings:

To those who think kids are incapable of walking down an aisle and sitting in a chair at the end of it: um, really? I would think a kid who is 3 or 4 years old (maybe even 2 if it’s a precocious kid) could handle “walk down there”, and then mom or dad is at the other end to guide them to a seat (I agree that NO kid should ever have to stand for the entire ceremony. That’s just wrong). If the kid is especially anxious around large groups, then that’s different, of course. A well-planned ceremony will entail nothing more for the child than that – walk down and sit by mommy and daddy.

And to those who think the kid shouldn’t be included if he/she can’t say “Yes, I want to be in your wedding” – well, does that mean no kid under the age of 2 should be brought to a park or play area because he can’t say “Yes, I want to go to the park”? Or no kid under the age of…heck, college age…should have to bathe because he/she can’t or won’t say “yes, I want to take a shower”? Should no child incapable of saying “Yes, I want to get in the car and drive an hour to visit Grandma” be taken in the car and driven to see Grandma?

Kids that age don’t get a choice in many things – it’s the parents who decide what’s best for them (most of the time). I would hope that parents could be trusted to know their kids well enough to accept or decline an invitation to be in a wedding on behalf of their children.

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Xtina June 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Although I can agree with the reasoning and spirit of Ms. Jeanne’s reasons for no children in ceremonies, I disagree that I would adopt it as a hard and fast rule. As others have said, it depends on the child and the situation. I do agree that immobile babies and very young children do not belong in the ceremony; just too much distraction from the event, and what’s the point? For the kid to just look cute? Tiny children are probably terrified by the crowd and the music and everything about it.

I had my cousins as attendants in my wedding as ring bearer and flower girl; he was 9 and she was around 6. They walked the aisle together holding hands and stood for part of the ceremony, then she sat down on the front row with another relative. At the end, they walked out together with the rest of the wedding party. As these children were very close to me and I knew them and their personalities well, I knew they’d do fine. If they’d been too small or unable to handle the duties, I wouldn’t have felt bad about not having any child attendants in my wedding.

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shiksagoddess June 18, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I was married less than 5 years ago, and I must say I emphatically agree with the original poster. What is the point of having babies in diapers as part of the wedding ceremony? Because they’re so cuuuuttttttttte!?

My BIL and his wife were married less than two months before we were, and had no less than six (6) little ones in their wedding party, four of them in diapers. One of the flower girls had a full-scale, screaming, fist-pounding, feet-kicking meltdown just as the ceremony was starting. It scared the heck out of all of them, except for the oldest one and threw everything into chaos.

So, the mother of that poor little girl spent over $100 on that dress so she could look cuuuuutttttte. There aren’t even any pictures of this little girl in her cute dress because she was so distraught her mother had to take her away. Did I mention that children were not invited to the reception?

This completely reaffirmed my views on little children in wedding ceremonies. While at my BIL’s reception, Mrs. Nosy Parker asked if I was having any little ones stand up in my wedding?

Me: Heck NO!
MNP: But why ever not?
Me: Didn’t you see the meltdown that poor little girl had? Why on earth would I do that to some poor child?
MNP: But they’re so cuuuuuuuuutttttttte!
Me (thoroughly annoyed): So are my cats! Should I dress them up and ask them to behave nicely?
(Strangely enough, this exchange did not prevent Mrs. Nosy Parker from attending my wedding, along with the 30+ children who were invited with their families and had a great time and well-behaved.)

I’m not trying to slam any brides out there who have had little ones – or want them – in their wedding party. I truly hope it has worked/will work for you. But I have seen too many times that small children are not always able to handle the stress of “performing on cue.” I think it’s a lousy thing to inflict on little kids, as well as stressed-out brides, and no, not all parents are smart enough to recognize their children’s limitations. Instead, they indulge in wishful thinking of how well their children will behave in their pretty, new costumes – and are so cuuuuuuutttttttte.

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LauraK June 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I didn’t plan to have any attendants in my wedding (it was a small, close family affair, about 30 guests and organised in 2 weeks due to my husband leaving the country shortly after) but when my sister asked if my just short of 3 year old nephew could be the ring bearer, I was very happy to include him as I love him to bits.

My other sister walked him down the aisle. We practised before the ceremony and it was made clear to him that at any time he could say he didn’t want to do it. He did decide not to at one stage and then changed his mind right before the ceremony. He’s three 1/2 now and he still talks proudly about being in my wedding and I’m so glad he was able to be a part of it. If he’d decided not to, even at the last minute, I would have been completely fine with that too.

Incidentally my flower girls were the 6 and 8 year old daughters of my cousin. Again it wasn’t at my request that they were in the ceremony, but at my aunt’s. As with my nephew, I was more than happy to be able to involve the family I love in my ceremony. Both girls have been in weddings before and done clothing catalogue modelling so they were perfectly comfortable and well behaved.

I can understand that when you’ve seen the worst, it’s easy to take a hard line that ‘children should never be in weddings’ but I think it can be done in a way in which the children will enjoy themselves and feel proud that they could be a part.

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Simone June 18, 2010 at 7:11 pm

I am a little torn here…I completely agree that it is very wrong to put a child in a situation where they would be stressed and likely to fail. I also agree that to a young child (say about 3-5) it can be very distressing if everyone is laughing, apparently at you, and you don’t really understand why.

However my own daughter was flower girl three times – once for me and once each for her beloved uncles. At our wedding she was a little too young (though certainly not in diapers) and decided that she just wanted to cuddle mummy then sit with her auntie and watch. Fine. There was no ‘fail’ about it because she hadn’t been hyped up, and the only thing that stressed her was when I gave my flowers to the bridesmaid to hold during the ceremony :) She was very relieved when I got them back!

The other two times though she was very comfortable, with people she was really at home with in (and maybe this is the difference) the church that she was familiar with. No stress at all. No one in my family would have let her get the least bit stressed or have taken her down the aisle if to be laughed at. And if she had decided not to walk, nothing more would ever have been said about it. I may argue with my brothers at times (who doesn’t) but I trust them to look after my daughter like she was their own.

That said though, I’ve also never been in a wedding or at a wedding where the bride or bridesmaids were stressed or panicing about walking down the aisle either. And I have massive issues with the word ‘fail’ being applied to a child who doesn’t walk down the aisle. In that first video I really hope the mother picked up that child and told her what a good job she did protecting the petals, and the bride & groom said the same thing later. In my experience, that’s what the child will remember. If the words ‘stress’ and ‘fail’ can be applied to your wedding, then perhaps you should rethink the whole shebang, not just the tiny humans.

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TheBardess June 18, 2010 at 9:42 pm

@J.- you really couldn’t even IMAGINE a wedding without a flower girl or
ringbearer? Seriously? Wow. I haven’t been to that many weddings in my time, but of the four I have attended, only one had a flower girl and ringbearer (they were the groom’s children from a previous marriage, and were both old enough to be quite well-behaved, as the youngest was 7 or 8 and the oldest 9 or 10). As for myself, I had neither a flower girl nor a ringbearer at my wedding. Yet somehow, someway, each of those couples (me and DH included) managed to get married without small children in the wedding party. And all of the guests seemed to have a good time at each celebration as well. It was almost as if- gasp!- small children in the wedding party were not NECESSARY for the wedding to be either successful OR enjoyable! Gadzooks! Astonishing!

Oh, and the lack of child attendants had nothing to do with disliking children, either. One of the couples whose child-free wedding I attended got pregnant on their honeymoon; another got pregnant about a year after the wedding; and DH and I (who have been married not quite two years yet) have a nine-month old son, and another one on the way.

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Elizabeth Bunting June 19, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Tiny Human Attendants was written by a Wedding Planner and it was her opinion as a spectator at many more weddings than I have ever attended, it would be better to have no child attendants.

She was NOT hostile to children and it was her RECOMMENDATION only. She is entitled to her opinion based on her years of experience. This, however, does NOT mean that nobody should have child attendants.

I did not have any child attendants at my wedding because I did not have any nieces and nephews at the time. Had I been married after the birth of my niece, I probably would have had her as she is a natural for this type of thing. It has been very well documented that all children are not suitable for this kind of responsibility. Age, temperament of the child, preparation as to what the child has to do and what they can expect is very important. I would like to suggest that if the above criteria are not taken into consideration, then it could be uncomfortable and overwhelming for the child.

Just my opinion.

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jenna June 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm

BTW I actually do think kids – not very young ones but lets say above age 3 – are capable of performing on cue. A long time ago, I worked in a daycare center and the kids in the age 3-4 room (and all rooms older than that) had to do a beginning-of-summer “play” (it wasn’t really a play – they all danced the same way to one song and said their names once or something simple like that).

There was a meltdown, and that kid did not have to perform, but everyone else in the class did just fine.

When I taught English in China for a year, we also had to do end-of-term performances. I had a class of 4 year olds (it was barely a class – it was 4-year-old day care with some English – fortunately I was experienced at day care) and we had to do something too. They each chose an animal, and I cut a large-ish outline of that animal on posterboard. We spent a few classes decorating them, and for the “performance” they each came out and said something easy like “I am a cat. I like to eat fish!” or “I am a butterfly. I like to fly!” in front of about 50 people. And they were FINE.

So, honestly, I think some of this hand-wringing about how “oh no kids that young can’t follow instructions or handle a large group!” is misplaced. You’d be surprised what kids are capable of, but we’ve become a society of coddlers (“Oh my precious baby can’t POSSIBLY do that!”).

I do agree that if a kid is clearly not good in large groups of people, he/she should never be asked to be an attendant. I also agree that if a kid has a meltdown or clearly does not want to march, he/she should not have to, even at the last minute. I think any parent who does not realize that their kid is limited in this way and pushes him/her into the limelight needs parenting classes. But I absolutely do not agree that “kids just can’t handle that”. Some can, some can’t.

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Kay June 20, 2010 at 9:20 am

My twin daughters were in my brother’s wedding just before they turned 2. I was reluctant to let them do it, but my s-i-l really wanted to include them and promised not to freak out if it didn’t go well. My brother paid for the girls’ regular babysitter to come to the wedding. We practiced walking down the aisle a lot, and had strategically seated people the girls would know on both sides of the aisle (it’s just like walking up the aisle in church anyway).

Unfotunately, the flower girl baskets were about 5 lbs, so the girls refused to carry them. True to her word, s-i-l did not freak out. They were escorted up the aisle by my husband, who then whisked them downstairs to the playroom where the babysitter was waiting (my brother paid her to babysit all other under-5 guests for the ceremony). Somehow the lack of flowers in the hands of the flowergirls did not wreck the ceremony or ruin the marriage.

All went very well. We had mountains of compliments, and we have lots of very cute pictures. The girls didn’t get anything out of the experience? Well, to quote them at the time, they had ‘fun, fun, fun!’, and played flower girl regularly for about a year after that. And 15 years later, they still prize the pictures.

Everything can go well with young children if you discuss and practice, plan ahead to accomodate their needs, and relax!

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Elfqueen13 June 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm

When I got married 2 years ago (today!) my younger nephews were 2.5 and almost 4. They were part of the ceremony – they carried beanie baby cows (it’s a long story…). When it came time to get dressed the 2.5 year old decided he didn’t want to. There was no pressure, no fussing. He went off and played for 20 minutes then decided to get dressed after all and the ceremony went very well. One thing we did to minimize fuss was not have the kids stand there the whole time. They did their parts, then went off with a friend of the family that they knew well and sat to one side. I think it all depends on the kid.

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Girlysprite June 22, 2010 at 3:51 am

I think that most people here can agree that younger participants are ok (3 years and up) if the bride knows the child, there is no fussing and the task is simple. And most important, if the child doesn’t want to do it, even at the last minute, it shouldn’t have to perform that task.
Then children do actually enjoy the role they are given. Many (though not all) children like to be part of such little rituals and have a little spot of attention. No, it won’t break the wedding if they aren’t in it, but in some cases it can add another nice moment to it. It’s just like how lacking flowers, or a certain type of dress, or a nice car doesn’t ruin a wedding, but sometimes it does add a bit to it.

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Kiz June 23, 2010 at 5:27 am

I had a 3yr old in out wedding, Our son, who was Best Man. He got to sit in the big seat next to daddy and had a great time. No Tanrtum from him, while our 1yr old daughter was in the guests with her Uncle Michael, all dressed up like a flower girl. No Tantrums from her either, i feel no shame at all for our choices, as thats exactly what they were OUR choices.

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Meg June 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm

When I was a flower girl I was two. My aunt had a wedding in the Catholic church. Well, I did perfectly well in the ceremony, but as we were leaving for some reason (probably because I was two) I went to run to the altar. If you are Catholic, you know that touching the altar, probably not a good idea. Well, my mother grabbed my arm and accidentally (the tears she shed…man) dislocated my arm. I went to the hospital, returned (that was stupid, Mom and Dad…lol) and then ran up to my elderly great-grandfather who got a cigar cinder near my eyebrow and I had to go home again. I can’t believe my parents. They brought me back! Anyway, I survived, but it was not a good night. Granted, this was the wedding that my uncle danced on the table, it collapsed and he had a goose egg on his honeymoon.

My sister had a five year old daughter of her friend and she was so shy she cried the whole way down the aisle. I say, keep the kids at home. I just think until they are about 10 or so to keep them home.

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Doris June 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I’ve seen just 3 children in weddings 1) the ringbearer who had rehearsed quite well, but that was in a nearly empty church. He was so scared to be performing in front of a huge crowd that he ran for his mother during the ceremony. Since he did not have the actual rings, it was not important for him to be at the altar; 2) the flower girl who had been so severely instructed to be careful how many petals she dropped that she kept stopping to pick them back up; 3) my niece’s step-daughter, as flower girl is a naturally hyper, talkative child so we worried how she would behave during the ceremony. I was appointed her “wrangler” if she got out of line. We all made sure she knew what was expected of her – talking about it for months before the wedding. Luckily, being part of a HUGE extended family, she is used to crowds. That didn’t faze her. She made the walk down the aisle perfectly. At the altar, she stood with her aunt (who, frankly, is terrible with children!) and step-uncle (who is amazing with kids) and had me watching her from the front row. We had worked on signals for “stand still,” “hush,” and “come here.” Only one time did I have to signal her to stand still and that was because her aunt was reacting badly, not because the child drew attention to herself.

A long post. My point with those stories is that if the children are well-prepared, any incidents will be small or non-existent. My opinion is that the child has to be at least 4 before such preparation can be taken in.

Don’t we hear more (in numbers) and more horrific stories about adult attendants who behaved badly?

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aventurine June 28, 2010 at 3:31 am

Gotta go with the LW on this one. The youngest kid in DH and my wedding were the candle-lighters, and they were 13 and 11.

No regrets. I famously lack the “kids = cute” gene, though, so YMMV.

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PurpleyBlue June 29, 2010 at 11:35 am

I agree that it’s usually not a good idea, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that children are only being used as props (although, sometimes I’m sure that’s exactly the case). When we got married, we had my husband’s 3 year old as ring bearer. It was important to us, that he be with us when we officially became a family. Yes, it turned out to be a mistake because he had to be removed in the middle of the ceremony. We learned our lesson the hard way, and in hind sight I would have done something else special for the three of us after the ceremony.

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momof2bratz June 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I think I can agree with the premise that flower girls and ringbearers should not be too young in order to maintain both their parents and their own sanity during the ceremony. In my wedding we had my DD (4), DN (4), DN (6) and DS (7). We explained what was expected of them (basically a short walk down the aisle….no flower petals, just carring flower fairy wands, or a ring cushion in DS’s case). We also made sure they had somewhere to sit at the front as soon as they had finished the procession, as well as a family member to watch over them in case they got cranky or fidgety. As we had a civil ceremony it was only 15 – 30 mins long, and the children all behaved immaculately. I think the biggest problem is that the parents and the bridge and groom can tend to stress the children out by placing too much importance on the childs role in the ceremony. Without any pressure, most kids can be relied upon to carry out a short walk down an aisle, but when they are expected to carry out a picture perfect performance, they start to get worked up!

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Age July 5, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I was supposed to be a flower girl for my cousin’s wedding. I was really little but I was the only girl of the next generation of boys… and they thought that as long as my cousin D (the ringbearer) was holding my hand, I’d do fine. But when I saw all those people and strangers I refused to go out. Basically, I agree with what you’ve said here.

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jpkecrt July 6, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I wanted a small bridal party. But when I announced my upcoming wedding, my little cousins jumped up gleefully and said, “We can be in it! We have white dresses!” How could I argue with that logic?

They threw in their little brother as the ring bearer, too, and all were fantastic.

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Sweet Bohemian Child July 15, 2010 at 2:16 am

Hello, ma’am/sir.

(raises hand sheepishly) Ex-flower girl here. I’m Bekki, twelve years old, with an absolutely fabulous nack (nac? nach? nak? I’ve never seen this word written…) for remembering things from when I was very, very little.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful at all, seeing as most of you are older and wiser than I am at present, but personally, my experience as a flower girl at age four was absolutely horrid!

I overheated, blacked out, and woke up in the arms of the groom… Whom I promptly threw up on. Then mama had a fight with Ms. Bridezilla (mom won’t tell me her name, so that’s what I refer to her as) and she picked me up and took me to the emergancy room to make sure I was okay.

Needless to say, ma’am/sir, it was an extremely unpleasant experience for any and all involved.

Have a wonderful day!

-Sweet Bohemian Child

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Pixie July 20, 2010 at 4:15 am

I was a flower girl for one of my most favourite Aunts when I was about 3yrs old. And for the most part everything was great, except… I decided to hate the photographer. Similar thing happened with my cousin having his young son as ring bearer. Ceremony was fine, photos were not. Toddler tantrums are never fun.
I got married recently and had two of my cousins as my junior bridesmaids, they’re aged 8 and 9. The younger one V gets stage fright, and can be very shy or nervous in front of large crowds. I spent the few months leading up to the wedding talking to her about it, checking in to see if she was still ok with it etc and then the night before my brother upset her and she had a meltdown because she was nervous and said she didn’t want to do it anymore. I told her that was fine, gave her a kiss and cuddle as Mum whisked her off to go home and knew that her Mum would be able to deal with it. I got a phone call later that night from my Aunt before she put V on the phone. She did still want to do it but was a little scared, and she did perfectly on the day and was really happy she was involved. I knew that as the bride, I had to make allowances for the younger members of the bridal party because hey, they’re not adults and need that extra bit of help and support sometimes. The younger girls walked out together at the end of the ceremony and got a bigger cheer than I did, for the cuteness factor. I was waiting for them with cuddles when they got out to tell them how well they did. We had a great day.

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Emily July 21, 2010 at 11:28 am

I was a flower girl when I was 5 (and a half, I think), and 19+ years later, my mother will STILL rave about how well-behaved I was and how I did everything perfectly. I was an only child who received a lot of discipline, so by age 5 I knew to fear my mother’s wrath if I threw a tantrum or otherwise refused to cooperate! But then, age 5-6 is on the older side for a flower girl, I guess (or is it? I don’t really know), so good behavior is probably less of a novelty than in children 3 or younger. I vaguely remember the ceremony—including not knowing why the heck I was even doing this, but I guess I just took in in stride.

BUT, that said … I totally agree with the OP on this one. If I get married and have a wedding, I won’t have small children involved, not only because of the potential for bad behavior and the unnecessary stress on both parents and children, but also because younger children don’t understand the significance of the whole event, in which case I don’t think it’s fair to involve them.

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Pattie August 2, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Its very hard to assume beforehand what very small children will do as part of a wedding party. Sure, a child of two is theoretically capable of walking down an aisle to mom or dad waiting at the end. However, on the day of the wedding, surrounded by dozens of strangers, bright lights, candles, flashes from multiple cameras with all the adult they know stage whispering different directions to then, that child may get so frightened, he or she will forget his/her own name, let alone the instructions they are supposed to follow.

People really need to look at things from the child’s perspective in such times.

Thank you to the OP for a well-written entry.

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Jan74 August 9, 2010 at 9:12 am

I agree 100% with the OP.

I was forced to be flower girl at a little under 3 years old. After I did my part correctly, I was bored standing there for a very long sermon (I was a quiet and well-behaved child, but may I remind you, I wasn’t *even 3* yet), walked outside the church, where there was a very large stairwell. I wanted to walk down, but I ended up rolling down. I was ok, and it was a never a question of me interrupting the ceremony at all – nobody came to check on me (stellar parenting, I know), and the wedding party didn’t even notice.

However, the videographer (super 8 videos were a big tech advance at that time… ) was standing close to the stairwell, and caught that on camera.

For 30 years, I alongside my entire family was made to sit and watch the video of the day I essentially “ruined my uncle’s wedding”. This was never said in such rude terms, but in terms that weren’t much better, like “the video is useless now” and “too bad you can’t see the entire sermon as you should have” while everyone’s eyes shot daggers at me. Even when I was still a child. Their children joined in the taunting, and I think the year I was 14 was the first year I wasn’t reduced to tears. So it was a yearly flogging event for me having been a “bad” flowergirl at 2 years old.

Also, whenever anyone considered asking me to do anything – as a teenager, or even an adult, I’ve heard countless times “Pfft, Jan can’t be trusted with that. Don’t you remember [uncle’s name]’s wedding?”. So I spent my life being treated as some sort of terribly untrustworthy person based on my behavior at 2.

I feel bad that my first thought when they got a divorce was “At least I won’t have to watch that video anymore!” And yes, it has been converted to Betamax/VHS/DVD over the years.

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gramma dishes August 9, 2010 at 11:30 am

I think it is always the HC’s choice whether or not to include children in their ceremony.

But as I read these comments, I remembered a wedding my husband and I attended many years ago. It was an “obligatory” wedding — my husband worked with the bride and we almost had to go. But we knew no one else (or the families) in/of the wedding party.

There was a young flower girl. She was indeed cute and did exactly what she was expected to do. There was also a young ringbearer with fake rings who also did exactly what he was expected to do.

BUT — there was also a groomsman who was apparently either sick, nervous or drunk (or any two of the three perhaps) who passed out at the alter during the ceremony. The best man had forgotten to put the ring in his pocket, so the fake rings the little boy had so carefully carried down the aisle on the little pillow were actually put into use during the “exchange of rings” part of the ceremony.

After the ceremony, but while still at the church, the MOB and MOG got into an unfortunate tiff of some sort and were yelling at each other in the lobby of the church.

At the reception, several adults had way over their own personal alcohol maximums. One threw up on the sleeve of the best man, another broke a chair by flinging it against the wall, some began dancing in a most inappropriate manner (during which one of the guests actually tried to feel up one of the bridesmaids which in turn caused her husband to, uh . . . protest, complete with threats of bodily harm).

So to assume that children aren’t mature enough to participate in a wedding may be correct, but I’d just like to remind posters that neither are some adults! The difference is only that a child can be forgiven and people will smile at their transgressions. With an adult? Not so much.

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Asharah August 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Jan74, I think your uncle and his wife should have their posteriors thouroghly kicked, along with the rest of the family, for constantly beating a dead horse over your performance as a flower girl. If they wanted their whole wedding to be perfect, they shouldn’t have had a not-quite three-year-old in the wedding party. Where the heck were your parents when you spent years being teased and berated over this.

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Deborah August 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I agree. The only place for a small child in the wedding party is if they are the child of the bride and/or groom. In this case, their presence should be limited to in the photos, and (if wanted) standing hand in hand with mummy or daddy or BM/MOH. (Hey, in modern times, you may be blending a family).
Expecting a toddler to walk down the aisle alone is cruel.

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Jan74 August 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Asharah, my mother pretty much follows the family party line on that. Also, even compliments that I’m doing well are framed within terms of disbelief, always.
And… that is why I moved to the other side of the country, with a move to another continent coming soon.

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athena August 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm

You make some very good points, which in my mind boil down to one underlying point, namely that children are (small) people and should be treated with the all dignity we give freely to other humans. In my personal experience this does not mean children should be excluded from weddings, but that care and consideration should be given.

I was a flower girl in my mother’s wedding to my stepfather. I was 2 weeks shy of my second birthday. My mom let me help pick out my dress (nothing scratchy!) and was patient with me at rehearsal, going over my role as many times as I needed. I was not expected to stand like a prop through the ceremony, but I could sit or stand as my body alternated between tired and restless as a toddler’s will. I was proud to be a part of the wedding, that my mother reserved a special role for me and let me know how happy it made her. Inevitably, I did cute things that distracted somewhat from the proceedings, but as soon as my mom realized why people we chuckling, thought it was adorable and it’s become a favorite family story.

For my own wedding, what I did was probably faintly ridiculous. It was a small wedding of 50 close friends and family. Being of that certain age, we were looking at a situation where we could have no child attendants or a rather silly amount if we were to avoid hurt feelings. I suppose we could have limited it to girls, but that seemed unfair too (and oh how the little boys loved the petals). So we went with the silly number and had a rather halting procession through the grass — children stealing each other’s baskets, flinging petals and then carefully picking them up, laughing, looking gravely serious, etc. It was awesome. We were formalizing our bond in the presence of our community, not putting on a stage show. A huge part of our community it the joy children bring to our lives. I hope they have some fond memory of the day, but if not I know they enjoyed themselves and we have marvelous pictures.

Oh, and I didn’t choose any of their clothes. I let our wedding colors be known and said it would be nice if they didn’t clash. I also pointed out it was outdoors in summer and that comfort should be considered. Whether the kids picked out the clothes or the parents did is none of my business, some prefer to one or the other, and they day I interfere in non-abusive parenting choices is the day I should (finally?) check into the psych ward.

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athena August 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Ugh, I hadn’t seen there was a second page of comments. Jan74 I’d submit that the real problem os that your family is crazy and I’m very sorry to hear of a child dealing with that kind of pressure.

Also, I misremembered and was almost 3, not 2 when I was a flower girl.

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Samantha October 20, 2010 at 10:40 am

I think it really does depend on the child, but under 3 is perhaps putting too much pressure on the child. I was a flower girl for my aunt’s wedding when I was eight and because my aunt knew that I was shy, she asked her step-brother’s daughter (also eight) to also be a flower girl. The presence of another person walking with me was all that I needed and I really did enjoy the experience, as did my “cousin”. I think the biggest thing was that we were old enough to know what we were doing and could decide to do it. It also helped that my aunt worked with who I was and gave me the support I needed and that we didn’t have to stand at the altar for the whole hour of the ceremony. I still remember being part of the wedding and still have the dress I wore tucked away somewhere. And a big sign that I really wanted to do it: I hated wearing dresses at the time and I didn’t make a single peep about wearing that one! I really do think that there are good ways and bad ways to include children in weddings and that people who do want to include children should choose a good way.

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1Mom February 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

My infant daughter was “asked” to be a flower girl in a friend’s wedding. DH agreed, but I was very uncomfortable with it, but I didn’t want to hurt the couple’s feelings. I spent weeks stressing about it–how was DD going to behave for the rehearsal? How cranky would DD get that the rehearsal dinner would keep her up much past her bedtime? How exactly would DD (who could not walk or even crawl) get down the aisle? Would I know the person carrying her? Was anything unsafe (i.e. a wagon) planned? How was DD going to cope with wedding events that took up much of the day and interrupted nap time? What if DD cried during the ceremony? Where should I sit so that I could retrieve her and escape the chapel quickly to avoid interrupting their entire ceremony? In the end, things worked out really well, and I’m not sure if DD has ever had a day where she was so agreeable. Everyone said how cute she was and how she was the best baby they’d ever seen. I don’t know if the couple (who do not have children) were sharing in any of my concerns, but if they were, I can’t imagine how having DD in their wedding would’ve been worth the extra stress and worry.

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Yellow.Zinnias May 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm

At 4, I was an example of why children should not be forced into weddings. My mother told me that I was going to be the flower girl for my aunt. I was going to wear a pretty pink dress and sprinkle rose petals on the aisle. She went on and on about how special I was going to be and how I would be the center of attention (this didn’t help, but I am an only child, and I was and am my parents’ special snowflake *snort* jk). I even spent afternoons outside , walking down our long front sidewalk and scattering mimosa blossoms that had fallen off of our trees to “practice”. There was no rehearsal.

The morning of the wedding, I am dressed to the nines in my pink dress, ruffly socks, and white patent leather Mary Janes, with my hair in curls and tied with a big matching bow (hey, it was the 80s). We show up at our appointed meeting spot outside of the chapel doors. And there, waiting, is another little girl dressed exactly like me. As it turns out, we were BOTH supposed to be flower girls. My parents knew this and did not tell me. Well, I had the mother of all fits. I threw my basket of petals across the room, I stomped my feet, I screamed, and then I refused to go down the aisle at all. Keep in mind, this is directly outside of the sanctuary doors, and I’m sure all of the seated guests heard me. The other flower girl, the niece of the groom, did the duty alone. But that’s not all. My father was a groomsmen, and I refused to let him leave my side. I gripped his leg and would not let go. My aunt, an ideal bride, told him just to carry me down the aisle. And that’s what he did. On their wedding video you can clearly see my father carrying me down the aisle as he walks beside one of the bridesmaids and holding me through the entire ceremony (during one point my lip starts to quiver and you can see me bury my face in his shoulder and hear me sobbing. It almost drowns out the vows). I am in lots of photos, even the professional wedding shots that were supposed to be the groom and groomsmen only, because I would not let go of my father’s hands. And I am pouting and/or crying in every. single. picture. My parents had to take me home instead of to the reception after the ceremony. I didn’t actually get into trouble because, as my mom told me when I got older, they felt that they were mostly to blame for not asking me if I wanted to be the flower girl and not telling me about the groom’s niece.

Fortunately, my aunt laughs about it today. She and her husband are separated, which I guess helps. But there is a running joke in our family about not inviting me to weddings. They used to say they hoped I got stuck with a flower girl like me, but fiance and I have decided against having tiny human attendants.

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justme June 15, 2012 at 11:44 pm

another comment for an older post:

Part of the problem with very young children in weddings is that they they can’t tell the difference between a whole church full of people laughing because they’ve just done something funny/cute, and a whole church full of people just plain laughing at them. Some children are extroverts, and do better than others, but not all of them. I’ve seen so many “child meltdown at wedding” videos that I can pretty much script the child’s thoughts:

Wow, I get to wear this pretty princess dress/awesome suit! This is really fun!

Hey, wow! I get to hold this awesome basket/pillow! This is super awesome fun!!

Wow… there sure are a lot of people here…

Wait I forgot–where am I supposed to go again?

I’m bored with this basket/pillow now…

These tights/bowtie itches… and I’m kinda hungry…

Why are all these people looking at me? Who the hell are they? Where’s mom?

F*ck this basket/pillow, I’m leaving it right here.

Wait, why are they laughing? Something must be funny… HA HA, funny things are happening!!! *looks around for funny thing that is happening*

Why is that lady with the camera waving her hands, what does she want me to do?

Now they’re laughing louder! Wait, are they laughing at me? Everything I do makes them get louder, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?! I… don’t want to do this anymore. *face turning red*… I think maybe… I’ll just go back out the way I came… no… where can I go? Why are they laughing?! HOLY SH*T I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS–GET AWAY FROM ME!!! THIS ISN’T FUN!!

*aaaaaaaaand, meltdown*

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