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 }

Becky June 16, 2010 at 9:34 am

thank you, thank you, thank you for putting into words so well what I think about this whole situation. A wedding is a sacred event, not a circus. Besides, what bride really wants the attention taken away from her anyway???

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Merrilee June 16, 2010 at 9:34 am

I know you’re not going to want to hear this, but I had my 4 y.o nephew in my wedding. Why? Because I wanted to include my husband’s entire family in the ceremony. Didn’t care how cute he looked, didn’t care if he threw a fit (and he didn’t; Mom walked him down the aisle and we were fine)…. but it was very important for hubby’s brother and his family to all feel included in the ceremony.

Plus I think a lot of it depends on the toddler. Nephew handled it just fine – some other kids may not, depending on temperament.

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Rumi June 16, 2010 at 9:38 am

“tiny humans” – lol, LOVE IT

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Elizabeth June 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

The problem here is weddings mean different things to different people. By all means, children should not be forced into it. At the same time, if the child is enjoying it and the bride and groom are happy then it really isn’t any of your right to criticize.

I got married a month ago yesterday. My flower girl and ring bearer are just a few months shorts of 5. The flower girl was loving the whole dress up and being doted on. I also want to make note, she is actually very mature for her age. Like she was taking it very seriously. The ring bearer doesn’t stand still very well, but he doesn’t sit still very well either. I personally don’t mind this. His dad, my cousin, was our officiant. He rather enjoyed being able to dress up and take part with his dad. I do want to note that we did let them site after they walked down. Even though the ceremony was actually pretty short, I don’t expect any child under 10 to enjoy just standing for 30 minutes doing nothing.

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Dragos Angelescu June 16, 2010 at 10:41 am

I understand, and agree totally. My wife and I chose 2 very nice children, brother and sister, for flower girl and usher (she was 9, he was 15). Their parents had a disagreement with us and chose not to attend the wedding, so uneven sides, and no flower girl. The matron of honor hearing my wife say “well, no flower girl then, one less thing to worry about”, insists that her two year old daughter is perfect for the job, and won’t even countenance the possibility of us saying no.

The day of the wedding the little girl is understandably upset at the daunting task, and has to be led (dragged) down the aisle, can’t stand for photos (the mother gets upset with me for suggesting that maybe she does not need to) and proceeds to steal several icing flowers of the cake at the reception. My wife and I both love children, have none, and like to spoil any that our friends have, but this was not something we would have done of our own accord.

Had I known better, I would have stated: NO children, no how.

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LovleAnjel June 16, 2010 at 10:58 am

I did manage to have small children be a part of my ceremony, BUT I asked them all personally after explaining what they were to be doing. I had several “flower children” (toddler to teenaged) sit at the end of pews and hand me roses as I walked past them. So they got to be in their (parents’) choice of clothes, come in & sit down with the rest of the guests. My ringbearer was 9, and came in with the rest of the guests (again, in his choice of clothes & seated with his family), and when the priest asked for the rings, he stood up and handed them over, then sat back down again. None of them had to “perform” or “act right”, and they felt included & special (and got attendant gifts – quiet toys for the little ones to bring & play with during the reception).

It can be done, but it really depends on the child’s (and bride’s) temperment.

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Sarah June 16, 2010 at 11:09 am

Hm, never thought of them as props, but I think you have a point. I guess I don’t see the point of having them at all except to avoid offending their parents by leaving them out! It seems to be expected that if you have nieces and nephews that they get to be in the wedding.
However, my ideal wedding would be signing paperwork and going to a Brazilian steakhouse, so I’m not exactly an authority. Unfortunately, our parents aren’t letting us get away with that either…

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Tiffany June 16, 2010 at 11:41 am

I agree here that kids under five should not be put in wedding parties, except maybe if they were family members, and one wanted to put their names in the program as, I don’t know, honourary bridesmaids or somesuch. I’d actually raise the age to six, myself. From first-year psychology, and my experience as a music teacher, that’s the age when children are able to become “team players”, and think outside themselves. To those who posted saying that they had children in their wedding party, and they were good as gold, I’m really glad it worked for you, and yes, some children are exceptions, I’d just be hesitant to trust a child to consistently be an exception. Children can be unpredictable at almost any age, but in my experience, the unpredictability factor shoots up when they are still in their kindergarten years or younger.

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Laura June 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

I really have a problem with the sanctimonious, condescending way this article was written. Not because I had a 10 year old and an almost 4 year old in my wedding- I’m not going to defend my choices, but I really hate the general tone of the writer. You are casting a general assumption that every child is going to break down, make a scene, etc. All kids are different and the happy couple has to go with their gut instinct as to whether or not a child will be ok or not.

You are also casting aspersions about having an identical flower girl as a choice to flatter one’s ego. What crust. Sure, there are brides out there like that, but that’s not every bride.

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Margaret June 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

I only have boys, but that first video is EXACTLY what would happen if my two year old and either of his big brothers (5 and 7) were walking down the aisle. Except there would probably be more punching during the tantrum.

At my wedding, our ringbearers & flower girl were all school aged (6, 8 & 10, I think). They were fine and happy, and I wouldn’t have cared much if they had acted up a bit anyway. However, during the ceremony, a two year old cousin of mine got loose and the mom let him run around us for a couple of minutes before she came and got him. Children were welcome, and now that I have kids, I can totally see how it would happen because mine are runners too, and it didn’t bother me particularly that he came up there, but I think she ought to have come and got him right away. I suspect, though, that she thought it was cute and enjoyed knowing that he was going to be in the limelight a little bit. That bothers me — not that he escaped the pew and came up, but that she wasn’t in any hurry to retrieve him. And actually, if he had just been making laps around the church, she could have left him. But he came right up between us and I had to take his hand to lead him to the side so we could carry on with our wedding vows. THAT’S where you need to come get your kid. If there had been more room in my church, I would have just had a seating area on the floor for any kids right in the front so they could come up and watch if they wanted. I might have gotten swarmed if we’d done it, but then it would have been our choice.

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auntmeegs June 16, 2010 at 11:58 am

I think it depends on the child. My flower girl was just under three and she was perfect. Adorable, loved every minute of it and when she got ansty during the long Catholic ceremony, her father took her outside (her mom was one of my bridesmaids). She is now ten and actually still remembers a little bit of the experience. It is a special memory that I treasure and a bond that she and I still share.

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Helen June 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I agree completely. My son was a ring bearer when he was three and it was a nightmare. First off, we couldn’t find a tiny suit his size (first clue). On the day of the ceremony, he balked I had to coax him into it – he told me that if I didn’t walk with him, he was going to run the other way, then I was critizied after the ceremony for walking with him. Boy, were we relieved when that was over. Never again.

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kingsrings June 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm

My mother is going to attend a wedding this weekend where the couple’s 3 year-old daughter is going to be the flower girl. I don’t know how this will go off, and I don’t think anyone can ever predict the behavior of any young child when they’re doing that task, no matter what their personality or temperment is like. That can all change on a dime when they’re actually in the situation. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it is forcing a young child who doesn’t have the maturity yet to handle what is to them a stressful, unknown situation. At that age, they can only do so much, and only serve so much of a purpose, so why bother? I think EHell dame makes some very good points, and I don’t disagree. I especially don’t like it when the couple insists on having a baby as an “attendant”, when a baby simply can’t do anything at that age! Hence, they’re bizarrely “wheeled” up the aisle in some kind of carriage for no purpose at all.

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NotCinderell June 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I’m so glad that this was said. My third cousin reputedly was hoping that his older sister’s daughter would be able to walk down the aisle when he got married. His niece was not able to walk when they started planning the wedding, and I believe she was about 18 months old when he did get married. I think she did serve as his flower girl. I thought it was ridiculous at the time, but it was distant family and I wasn’t even at the wedding, so it was hardly my issue.

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Gloria Shiner June 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm

My SIL wanted my (3-year-old) daughter in her wedding. However, she did not check first with the child’s parents (myself and my husband). The first we knew of it was when a fitting was scheduled for a dress. Oops! Husband said no way, 3-year-olds do not belong in weddings. We all survived, although it was traumatic for a while. It was the right decision as she was always a high-energy child.

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jenna June 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I agree, mostly, but with a few caveats:

1.) The writer gets all up in arms about young children given no input in what they wear: umm, how many kids at that age are given much input into what they wear at that age? By 4 or so you can start with “do you want the red shirt or the blue one?” but even then, mom and dad make the final decision. Plus, how do you know that every kid in every wedding didn’t get a choice in their attire? Sometimes they do (“Do you want to wear a spinny dress or a shiny dress?”).

2.) If a bride dictates to her attendants what to wear, we call her a Bridezilla? Really? I happen to think that matchy-matchy attendants…well, it’s not to my taste. I think especially if you are over the age of 25 or so, having matchy attendants just isn’t…it just looks…well some people like it I guess, and that’s OK. But most people don’t agree with me: I’ve gotten flak for NOT choosing dresses for attendants (“Wear what you like in a bright, deep color”). Most people *expect* that you’ll choose what the attendants wear.

3.) Why assume the kid is in the ceremony because the bride or groom wanted it? My cousin, who will be somewhere between 3 and 4 when we get married, is our ring bearer. I didn’t want kids in the ceremony because of many of the reasons you cited above: I am not into adorable “props”. It was my Grandma who pushed for her youngest grandson to be in it (the one who is the ringbearer). Since I didn’t mind either way, and it was a good cushioning blow to my red dress, we OK’d it. Saved us a lot of drama. I don’t regret it. And yes, he is cute.

4.) OK, I agree that a wedding ceremony is not a “show” but it doesn’t have to come across as so dire and serious. I hope people laugh, sing and shout at our ceremony. “Solemn” is not in my vocabulary. I’d rather have something funny happen and have people laugh, create a story to tell, than have something “solemn”.

So…yeah. Still not feeling so bad about having a “tiny human” in our ceremony. It works for us, and he’s an outgoing kid. If necessary he’ll process with an adult and we aren’t putting him in a tiny tux. A simple button-down shirt and kid slacks is fine.

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J. June 16, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I honestly couldn’t imagine a wedding that didn’t have a flower girl or ring bearer. I feel that these jobs were created for children so that they may participate in the day. Also during a ceremony emotions run high. It’s nice to take an emotional “break” and watch the children walk down the aisle. If they make it, it’s cute. If they don’t everyone still smiles. A day is not ruined if they don’t make it or fuss. To be honest most kids don’t even remember when they had this role so I doubt making them do this will severely damage their tiny souls.

As for the props comment, wouldn’t you consider bridesmaid’s and groomsman props? How about the ceremony where they seat the grandparents or the mothers. Think about it. It’s not right to force them to walk down that aisle just for pomp and circumstance for all your guests to see.

I’ll give the writer that if they can’t walk then they shouldn’t be given this role. Or if the parents are in the bridal party and their child is too. In cases like this I have to say it is not the bride’s fault to offer, but the parents taking on too much. A parent knows what their child is capable of and I think it should be up to their parents.

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ladycrim June 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm

When I was 3, I was the flower girl for my neighbor/frequent babysitter. However:

– The Bride came over and asked both me and my mother if I wanted to do it, explaining to me thoroughly what it entailed.

– Bride talked to me about what I’d be wearing. I remember being very excited because she brought over a flower that was the same color as my lavender dress.

– Bride and my parents assured me that I could sit down in the front pew during the ceremony if I got tired. (30 years later, I’m still proud that I stood up there and held still for the whole ceremony. This was not based on a directive from anyone; I just wanted to show that I could do it.)

My point is: KNOW the child you want in the wedding. Talk to him/her as well as the parents about what s/he will need to do, and make sure s/he is able to handle it. Most of all, understand that a kid may still get scared, or otherwise do the wrong thing. Be prepared to roll with it, laugh it off, and file it away for cute storytelling later. If you can’t do any of these things, then you’re better off not including young ones in your wedding party.

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kidsis June 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm

As a niece, I was NEVER a flower girl I was deemed “too old” by the time I could behave well enough for the job. Although, I did get an attendant gift when my youngest aunt got married. I was 5 and my mom and grandmother made my aunt’s dress (we are STILL finding pearls in my grandmother’s stuff and she’s moved 3 times since then!), so it was more of a “don’t want you to feel left out and throw a fit” gift since I was there while my aunt got dressed and gave gifts to her attendants.

When my best friend got married, she did have her youngest niece as the flower girl. Her niece was 12 at the time and almost as tall as my friend! It did make for a better experience for all, though, because she was a lot of fun to be around and she really was happy to be in the wedding party. If and when the day ever comes for me, I think I’ll follow my friend’s example and have older child attendants.

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gingertwinge June 16, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Exactly – what is the point of flower girl/ring bearer? The ring bearer rarely actually brings down the rings any longer and why would anyone need to walk on flowers? It costs way too much money to outfit the little tykes for a few minutes of wedding, and lacks dignity and maturity on the part of the whole wedding party—-now what I really hate seeing (sorry if you are upset, but it is my right to a different opinion) is when the bride and groom have all of their own children in the wedding as flower girls/ring bearers, e tc–in my old fashioned ways, I think we should NOT be seeing the couple’s own children at their own wedding–and most certainly they almost always act up anyway and mom and dad can’t do anything about it. Yuck.

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DirtyWeasel June 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm

You took the words right out of my mouth. Honestly, I’ve never understood the “cuteness” factor of having small children being part of the wedding ceremony anyways.

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J.P. June 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Re: point number 2, about kids not having any say-so in what they wear in the ceremony. Wouldn’t very young children be dressed by their parents anyway, even if they’re merely guests?

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Jules June 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Hear, hear.

I was used as a prop for a wedding when I was three. They were friends from church and apparently the bride wanted me as I was adorable. I did not do well at all from what I hear. I still refuse to be forced to do anything I don’t want to. Last wedding I was ever a party to. (I eloped with my husband 20 years ago this month.)

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Chocobo! June 16, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I’m not a fan of the mini-bride phenomena with a girl of ANY age. The girl is likely going to be dressed as a woman, since the mini-dress is a copy of a patter designed for a woman’s body. So unless the bride chose something very simple and conservative, the mini-dress is likely to be inappropriate.

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danielle June 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

i recently attended a wedding where the 5mo old son of the bride and groom was carried down the aisle by his grandfather-my grandma kept saying it was shameful (not sure why)

the flower girl was my 7yr old cousin who after the ceremony was over decided to pick up all the flower petals she had dropped while walking down-note this was her third time as a flower girl

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Barbara June 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Oh, I SO agree! It has been a very rare occasion in my experience where the child did what he/she was supposed to, and eventually had to be guided/picked up/escorted out. The inclusion of children makes the wedding into a production with more stress than anyone needs and is a distraction to the entire ceremony. Just say NO to child attendants.

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danielle June 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm

also–i was 2 when my oldest cousin got married and i was her flower girl I remember absolutely nothing but apparently i was adorable even though i refused to leave my moms side

from what pictures i have seen i also cried the entire time but my cousin apparently thought it was funny

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Jayne June 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I agree – the “cuteness’ factor of little kids in weddings does nothing for me at all. Probably the only people who think it is cute are the kids’ parents/family members. Not that it is rude or anything, it is just corny.

And I also agree with Ginger, having your own kids participate in your wedding is just a little bit yucky. Maybe that makes me a bit old fashioned, but to me it looks like the happy couple said “let’s have a couple of kids together first, and then we’ll see if we like each other well enough to get married.” I don’t have a problem with couples living together before marriage – I did so myself – but I like to see the committment come before the kids come. There are no guarantees, of course, but I think getting married before you have kids gives the kids a much better chance at being raised in a stable two-parent home.

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Enna June 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

It depends on the child – I agree with what the person is saying here to a point. If the child is calm enough as in not hyperactive and is well behaved then why not? However I think it is best to have really young children as guests instead of flower girls etc etc.

What can get difficult is when a bridge and groom decide to ban children from their wedding as it can stop some people from attending. It is about getting the right balence.

I’m not keen on children being reffered to as “mature” for their age as if they are encourage to be older than their age or mini grown-ups.

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karmabottle June 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Oh well said, Admin!

I got married with my sister as my maid of honor. My FIL stood up with my husband as his best man. That was our entire bridal party.
Guess what? Eleven years later, we are happily married. Thank you for reminding people that a wedding is not a performance, spectacle, or show. It’s a commitment between two people and the quality is worth more than the quantity of attendants, flowers, gifts, or guests.

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Ms. M June 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm

My sister had a flower girl and a ring bearer at her wedding. The ring bearer was about 8 or 9 – he’s the grooms nephew and his sister (12) was a junior bridesmaid. It was a way for him to be included without having to be too involved (he showed up to the rehearsal and processed in, but they sat in the front row).

The flower girl was asked. She was, I think, 5. She is also my sister’s goddaughter and adores my sister. Her papa was an usher and her mama was a bridesmaid and she wanted to be included, too. She wasn’t a mini-bride (which I think is tacky), and she sat with her dad for the ceremony. We also included her in the morning “getting ready” and she got her own gift from the bride. She was thrilled and very well behaved.

It’s definitely not for all kids. I think ladycrim makes an excellent point – you include children who you KNOW. You include them for the same reason you include adults: because the wedding is a celebration of the community which is witnessing your vows, and those children are part of the community.

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Queenofallthings June 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

OK – lots of responses here. I agree completely with Miss Jeanne. When I married, my soon-to-be stepson was the best man (age 13). My second stepson (11) was an usher. My youngest stepson (5) was the ring bearer. My three nieces (5, 7, 8) were flower girls. My two nephews (5 and 5) handed out programs. Every child behaved and felt grown up and the girls were thrilled. My sister asked to include her two 20-month old daughters; I suggested that she dress them in the same colors as the wedding party – but told her her (as MOH) that she would be not enjoy the ceremony if she was worrying about the girls. She wholeheartedly agreed and everyone was happy.

I don’t know if someone mentioned this, as i confess to not reading all the comments, but having children (and children only) as your wedding attendants is very European.

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Dina June 16, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I was a Tiny Human Flower Girl at two weddings – one at 3 and a half, one at 5. I don’t much remember the first one, but I do remember the second quite vividly. I got the stomach flu the day before and was up all night going to the toilet. The day of, I was positively green. Luckily it was a small wedding at my grandparents’ house, and I was able to sit on the sofa with my great grandmother at the front. Unfortunately, apparently I couldn’t stop farting during the ceremony… ^_^;

I’m getting married next year, and I’ve decided not to have a flower girl or ring bearer. Mostly ’cause I don’t really know any people with kids that are the right age. (I’ve got a friend with a four-year-old, but I agree that’s too young!)

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Me June 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I love/hate the ‘You’re wrong because at my wedding…’ knee jerk reaction. How does that expression go… something like, “If you throw a rock at a group of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that was hit.”

I have never understood the purpose of mini-attendants – I wouldn’t trust a child with the rings and what does the flower girl do, other than look cute? I think it’s incredibly selfish, and almost criminal, to gussy up a child and force him or her to parade down the aisle with one hundred sets of eyes following them, just to serve your aesthetic purposes.

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PrincessSimmi June 16, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I was a flower girl for my mum’s friend when I was three. Apparently when I was half way down the aisle, they discovered I was a nervous vomiter. Not cute, not funny. I am a bridesmaid early next year and only time will tell if the problem has lessened with age.

Mind you, age is no guarantee to maturity. My Uncle is getting married to a lovely lady who I absolutely adore- she’s like a sister. Unfortunately my 20 year old brother agreed to be in the wedding party, then had a fight with grandad and backed out, then said he’d definitely be there if they didn’t invite Mum, and finally told my Uncle he’d decide on the morning if he felt like it. I told them to put a pig in a suit and nobody would know the difference. They’re now looking for a replacement. (I’m still rooting for the pig!)

Apart from that, the mini-bride idea is disgusting. And I would not have children in my wedding. I hate the idea of another child being covered in their own vomit for 6 hours standing in the freezing cold with Dad because 1) they stink and 2) they can’t leave yet Mum is too busy getting drunk at the bar.

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Tara June 16, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I’m offended and I didn’t even have a ceremony. A wedding is whatever the couple wants it to be. If they want it to be a circus instead of a solemn exchange of vows, then that’s their choice. If they’re willing to let the baby be the center of attention for a bit, that’s also their choice.

And as for children being “compelled” to do something they don’t understand… that happens all the time. Children don’t understand ANYTHING, because they are just babies. No, they don’t have a choice in what they wear… just like every other day of their lives. They’re dressed up to be shown off… how is this any different from how mothers put their babies in cute clothes? If the mother of the baby doesn’t feel right about letting her child do all these things, all she has to do is decline. They’re not abusing the child in any way. Get some perspective. This is one instance of “etiquette” that I do not agree with. Sounds like snooty people who have their idea of what’s “proper” and don’t care if everyone else is okay with it.

Oh no, the baby is crying! It must be child abuse.

Geez.

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Amanda June 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I can not speak for other couples, but we chose the children that we are closest to. These are kids that we see all the time and love. For us, the wedding party are the people that mean the most to you. It so happened that these children were 3 and 4. We did not care if they made it down the aisle and there was a mothers room at the end the row they were seated in, in case they started to cry. As it turned out, they behaved beautifully and were adorable. They were everything that we could have asked for.

I understand that the OP does not like children in weddings, and that is her right. However I do not think that you can say that is all about the “show” or the brides ego. In our case, it was truly that we loved these children and wanted to include. FTR, all 4 parents were not members of the wedding party so they could walk the children down the aisle if they wanted and the children were not expected to stand at the front of the church the entire time. They were given quiet toys to play with while they ceremony went on, and some of our best pictures are of the flower girl eating cheerios while we are saying our vows!

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HonorH June 16, 2010 at 10:59 pm

If I were to find a man and get married next year, I might actually have my youngest niece (Little E) for the flower girl, in spite of the fact that she’ll only be three and some change. Why? Because 1) she’d enjoy it, being the kind of girl who absolutely loves getting dressed up and being the center of attention, and 2) I love her dearly and would enjoy having her in my wedding party. If the day came and she didn’t want to do it, fine. I don’t think a blanket condemnation serves anyone.

Plus, seriously, very few children that age get to choose their clothes. If Little E doesn’t want to wear her Easter dress to church, tough. I don’t see how that’s an etiquette issue, unless the outfit is downright painful to wear.

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Lynne June 16, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Just want to say: I’m a preschool teacher — in a 2’s classroom — and that was NOT anywhere CLOSE to being a tantrum.

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jenna June 16, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I agree with Tara.

At that age, no kid has the ability to decide everything for him/herself. That’s what parents are for. If the parents, acting as one would assume in the child’s best interest, think it would not work, then they can (and should) decline.

Since we do have a ring bearer, if, on that day, he does throw a fit or clearly does not want to walk down the aisle, we are 100% OK with it not happening. People will understand. Or he can walk with mom or Dad. Or carry a stuffed monkey. Whatevs. I like my milestones fun and informal. The whole “dignified wedding” doesn’t suit us: we prefer family hijinx and crazy shenanigans. I don’t see why our wedding would be any different.

If he does process, however, we do plan to give him the actual rings tied into a small wooden box. I feel a kid carrying fake rings would be…silly. For me. Some people like it, and that’s cool.

Oh, and my other two cousins, age 9-11, are handing out programs. They are *excited* to do it.

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sam June 17, 2010 at 12:22 am

First off, I agree with the spirit of this post. The kids should be mature enough to understand what they are doing and agree to what they are doing. However, I don’t know if I agree with most of the rationale, and the age limit. When I was 3, I was in my aunt’s wedding, as a flower girl. My 2 year old sister was supposed to do it too, but she fell asleep before pictures, and had to be photoshopped in. I walked down with my mom, and sat with a family friend during the ceremony, and I remember having fun.

And I must comment on some of the moralizing happening in some of these comments. If a couple have children before the get married, are they just supposed to hide the kid in the basement until they manage to tie the knot? The marriage becomes about the new family rather than just two people, and that is great. Screw tradition; marriage should be about love and commitment, and what says those things better than children.

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Charlotte Vera June 17, 2010 at 2:40 am

I agree that the inclusion of very young children in a wedding can sometimes lead to catastrophe and tears, I think it depends to an extent on the child being included, not just their age. I was a flowergirl when I was four and I still remember the delight I experienced leading up to the wedding. I recall sitting with the bride-to-be looking at one of her wedding magazines and announcing that I wanted, “Those kind of mitts.” I was referring to the lace gloves that were being modeled by one of the magazines flowergirls, and guess what, I got them! The bride and her mother graciously ordered the gloves for me, and when they came too big, sewed them down to make them smaller. I loved everything about that wedding: the rehearsal, having my hair done, carrying the basket, posing for pictures — even waiting around for the reception to start because it made me feel mature.

The flowergirls in my own wedding were a lot older than I had been (they were both eleven and carried their own bouquets, not baskets), but that’s mainly because I wasn’t close to any younger girls.

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Munky June 17, 2010 at 5:37 am

I’m having a 6 1/2 y.o. flower girl. We are very close to both the FG and her mother, and saw this as a great way to include them (they are relatives of my fiance also). I have asked the parents, and they were thrilled. We intend to ask the potential FG closer to the date, and discuss what we would like her to do. If she refuses, either then, or any time later (including right before the procession), that’s fine. At least the parents will get a cute photo of her in a pretty dress.

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Country Girl June 17, 2010 at 7:52 am

I think the issue of children in a wedding party really depends of the attitude of the bride and groom. Yes, I was one of those people who included children. My then 3 year old godson and his 7 year old sister. However, our wedding was outside on a boat dock and very casual. We rehearsed several times and when my godson stopped on the dock to look at the “fishies’ in the water, we fully expected him to do it at the actual wedding. He didn’t, he was very good and walked along holding the hand of his uncle. If you expect children to act like children then you won’t be disappointed.

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Amber June 17, 2010 at 8:23 am

Sometimes I disagree with Miss Jeanne’s views on weddings (that they have to be serious, for instance, or that they shouldn’t have crazy themes,) though I always understand the whys and wherefores of her reasonings.

With this, however, I am absolutely 100% in agreement. Young kids should not be put on display for any reason, whether the force behind the display is the parents or the bride and groom. If it’s the parents, they’re using their own child to usurp a day that isn’t their own. If it’s the bride and groom, they’re using the child, as Miss Jeanne stated, as a prop. Boo to all that! If the child cannot say with full comprehension, “Yes, cousin Mabel, I want to be in your wedding!” then they shouldn’t be forced down the aisle.

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auntmeegs June 17, 2010 at 8:41 am

Me:

It is the OP that said it was wrong to have small children as part of a wedding. Those of us who had them did not say the OP was wrong, we simply relayed our experience, which was different from the examples in the OP. Just because “you” don’t understand it and don’t agree with it, doesn’t make it wrong. It is a matter of preference and opinion. My flower girl was an angel because she is the kind of child that loves attention and was not at all scared to “perform” in front of the crowd (she was a model, which may have something to do with it). She loved wearing her pretty dress and being the bride’s special girl that day.

So to call it selfish and criminal is pretty rediculous and more than a tad over the top.

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Powers June 17, 2010 at 8:46 am

Tara, the wedding is not about the couple. It’s a public, civic commitment — and a public, civic ceremony. Certainly personalization is not a bad thing, but there are certain basic standards that are necessary for a wedding to fulfill its purpose within a society.

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karmabottle June 17, 2010 at 10:18 am

Tara, do you also believe that “a wedding is whatever a couple wants it to be” no matter *how* it affects others or just in regards to children in the wedding party?

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madame-mim June 17, 2010 at 11:34 am

A few things: “What bride really wants the attention taken away from her anyway?” Meh. I really don’t think having a flower girl confuses anyone about who is to be congratulated, celebrated, or looked at on your wedding day.

As for ruining the ceremony? Again, meh. Incorporating children into your ceremony and then being surprised or disappointed when they don’t perform as demanded, or strong-arming them into participating against their wishes, is inexcusable. If you’re open to a bit of chaos and uncertainty and have kids who want to participate, then it won’t hurt your guests to pay witness to a bit of lightheartedness during your ceremony.

I’m surprised no one has commented as of yet on marriage as a rite of passage, parenthood as another. I think that including children in a ceremony can go beyond the “cute factor” or show-biz to symbolize embracing the astonishing, topsy-turvy joy that many couples hope will result from their marriage in the form of children.

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nestholder June 17, 2010 at 11:49 am

It’s interesting how differently things are done, isn’t it! In the UK it’s more usual for the bride and her father to walk down the aisle first, followed by attendants. Following the bride is a much less intimidating prospect for small people, I think, than making that walk all alone. At my sister’s wedding her only bridesmaid was my daughter (aged almost eight), and my five-year old son was ring-bearer (with fake rings, of course). It was a delight to hear the distinct waves of sound coming forward through the chapel—Oh, doesn’t she look beautiful, followed by Awww, doesn’t she look lovely, followed by Ooooh, isn’t he sweet!

And though adult bridesmaids are far from rare here, it seems quite a lot of people agree with my own view that the adults would like to get themselves a nice new outfit (and a Proper Hat), and it’s the little girls who want the bridesmaid dresses. My own bridesmaids were all cousins in their early teens. But then, we have less of a tradition of expecting the bridesmaids to be involved with the preparations.

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