Kids and wedding ceremonies. Now there's something that goes together like oil and water.
I think that the reason people get all worked up about children at weddings is that they have unrealistic expectations of them.
'I want Daisy to walk down the aisle at a specific part of the song, scattering rose petals as she goes, then drift off to the left front where she will stand patiently and quietly throughout the ceremony with the other bridesmaids. She will come forward bearing the rings on a cushion, when the bride and groom will untie them and slip them on each other's fingers. Daisy will rejoin the bridesmaids until the ceremony is over and she will then come forward to have her photograph taken as part of a larger group.'
Daisy bursts into tears the second that she sees the ceremony room full of people. She cries so hard that snot explodes from her nose and her face turns red and blotchy. The ceremony is running late by the time you calm her down and persuade her to walk down the aisle. She won’t go first, however, and Daisy is now clamped to the leg of your chief bridesmaid.
After some cajoling she starts scattering rose petals but refuses to move while she does so. It takes concentration to scatter each petal one by one, after all. Your entrance song ends with Daisy and your bridesmaid stranded in the middle of the aisle.
The music starts again and finally Daisy has run out of petals so makes it to the front of the room. Now she spots her favourite Uncle Dave in amongst the guests and wants to go to him rather than stand in her designated space. After a hushed argument and more tears as the ceremony begins, Daisy stays with the bridesmaids. For about five minutes.
Daisy is bored with all these people standing around talking so she decides to walk over to the bride and groom mid-ceremony and start talking to them. Everyone laughs so she does it again, and again, and again. Now nobody is laughing.
Daisy is now out of position for the giving of the rings. The bridesmaid has to bring them forward and hand them to Daisy who promptly turns the cushion upside down. The rings go bouncing under the front seats and everyone scrambles to find them. The room is in uproar!
Thankfully the ceremony is now over and it is time to take the photographs.
Despite hogging the limelight at home Daisy is now camera shy and either hides behind everyone else in the shot or wails each time the shutter is clicked. Your abiding record of Daisy on the day will be either that of a sullen child hiding behind her Dad’s legs or a child screaming in distress.
Managing your expectations
Of course, I am exaggerating. It’s highly unlikely that all of that would happen during a single wedding ceremony. But I have observed everything I have outlined here at least once before, and often multiple times.
I am not against children at wedding ceremonies. A wedding is a key family event and sharing it with children is important.
Where people go wrong with children at weddings is in their expectations. It’s an emotionally overwhelming day for anyone, let alone young children, so it’s no wonder they don’t behave as expected. I think that there are two ways to deal with children at weddings.
The first way to approach the day is to have no expectations of the children at all. Don’t give them a specific role and don’t expect them to do something when and where you want. Put them in a pretty dress, or some cool converse and a waistcoat and let them enjoy the day. They’ll be guaranteed to do something adorable that everyone will remember for all the right reasons.
Alternatively, if you do decide to give them a role, don’t expect things to happen exactly to plan, and have a back up plan. If your flower girl won’t walk down the aisle in front of the wedding party don’t put her under more pressure by making a scene, just let her come in with the rest of the party. Have a bridesmaid on standby to take over if your child refuses to carry the rings on a cushion to the front. Just letting go can take all of the stress out of the situation.
There is a third option, I guess. You could could just ban all children from the wedding ceremony. ;)
Thanks to Binu Kumar for the image that accompanies this piece.