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Children At (Or In) A Wedding Or Not

The Issue Of Children Being A Part Of A Wedding: This is definitely a sensitive issue, one that if you went out on the street, and randomly polled many people, you would likely generate a multitude of different thoughts. Some people would say, that it is viewed as insulting to not allow children at a wedding, while others will say , absolutely.. kids have no place at an adult gathering such as a wedding and/or reception, and still others may say that they really have no preference either way. I am addressing this issue from the standpoint of being an officiant, at times, leading and directing the rehearsal, standing at the end of the aisle observing, and what I have viewed (and experienced) in the hundreds of weddings I have officiated over the years. I am hoping to give some guidance with this issue, and some food for thought on whether to have children present for the festivities or not. This is not meant to be critical in any way, nor even advising, but more of things to consider, as there are enough things to think about in planning a wedding, right? I am merely trying to help others out there, make a uniformed decision on whether this will be the right decision for them or not, and if it IS the right decision, to be as prepared as possible. I Will Start Off With The Age Of The Child: When I was 6 years old, I served as the flower girl at my cousins wedding. I look back on the pictures of me at that wedding, walking down the aisle at the church, and sitting at the head table at the reception, and they honestly make me chuckle. I look very poised, as if I am taking my job very seriously. I remember feeling very honored to be a part of these festivities, and super excited. Though I do not remember a lot of that day and night, I have to believe, that my cousin felt that I was old enough, and mature enough to handle the responsibility. I do remember that I did not require much direction, I followed my orders, walked when I was told, stood where I was told, and did not put up too much of a fuss about anything. Now, had I been a few years younger when this wedding took place (and it was a Catholic high mass wedding too!), I do not know that, that would have been the case. I was a 1st grader by this point, reading, writing, doing arithmetic, and capable of sitting in a classroom all day, following the directions of my teacher. Children that are younger than their kindergarten year, as a general rule of thumb, are likely going to need more direction-and, in the case of toddlers, or even babies, the likelihood of said child being able to walk down that aisle, and be as stoic and serious as I was, at the age of 6? Slim to none. I have seen children under the age of 5 throw temper tantrums, lay in the middle of the aisle way kicking, screaming, and refusing to walk down. I have seen children that are too young to handle the responsibility throw the rings, cry, refuse to stand (or sit), insist on being picked up by their parents (who may also be serving as attendants, or even,are the bride and groom themselves). I have seen children that end up having to be picked up, and walked down the aisle by an adult who is not even in the wedding party. I dont mean this disrespectfully of the child (or parents) at all. It is just that, in all actuality, they may be too young to handle the responsibility. I once heard a story of a ring bearer who was about 3 ½. He got to the end of the aisle, and promptly grabbed the rings off of his pillow, and threw them in the pond that was behind the wedding party. Said rings were gone-forever. The #1 thing thus, to think about, is like my cousin way back when, consider the age and maturity level of the child before thinking about having them be in the wedding. If of course, it is not even up for debate, just be prepared for anything. With that in mind, I offer up the following sections as helpful hints: Rings (Ring Bearer): Piggy backing off of the prior story that I relayed in the above section, is the issue of the rings. If the ring bearer is younger than 7, you may want to consider having the Best Man and/or Maid/Matron of honor hold the rings, and let the ring bearer use fake rings , OR-he can hand the officiant the boxes, while the Best Man/Maid/Matron of Honor hands the actual rings to the officiant. This makes them feel that they are still the Ring Bearer, are important, and have the official title. If Younger Than Seven (7) Years Of Age: Helpful Thoughts If the child(ren) is in the wedding party: parents should be designated to help/guide the child down the aisle. Offer snacks or toys as an incentive afterwards, or right before. Make sure (as much as possible), that child is well rested before the ceremony. If the parents of said child(ren) are in the wedding party themselves, consider hiring a babysitter for the day, or someone unaffiliated with the wedding party to help with the child. This also goes for during the ceremony. The babysitter/nanny/designated person can take the child out of the ceremony room should they become disruptive, or fidgety. If the child is a baby or toddler, have them wheeled in a wagon! (or other fun, creative device) It is enjoyable for them, distracting, and it makes a huge difference. You do not have to worry about them actually walking. I have never officiated a wedding, where this was done, that did not generate a great deal of smiles, Awwws, and giggles. Guests love it! If the flower girl is very young (3 or younger), do not expect them to throw flowers/petals down the aisle before the bride walks down. The likelihood of this happening is slim. What I have seen work MUCH better, is for them to just carry a flower basket. Awesome Ideas For The Reception: Have a kid-friendly table. Have toys, and coloring books, and puzzles on it. Consider hiring a child care provider to watch the kids, and even-if possible, a table located in a different room than where the adult guests are. Otherwise, what will often happen, particularly if the parents are in eyesight, is the children will meander towards their parents. Have a kid-friendly menu too. Macaroni and Cheese, chicken tenders.. all the favorites! Have the DJ offer up a special song for the kids to dance to, and/or a game just for them. It makes them feel special, included, and that their presence is definitely appreciated too.

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