Children at weddings

By Drum Digital
22 July 2014

A four-year-old American girl recently made the news after advertising her services as a flower girl to couples marrying at the New York town clerk’s office. Children can make a wedding wonderfully special, but make sure they’re welcome.

A four-year-old American girl recently made the news after advertising her services as a flower girl to couples marrying at the New York town clerk’s office. Annabelle Earl stood outside the office with a cute sign asking, “Can I be your flower girl?” Annabelle had been told by a friend that wedding parties were fun, and wanted to be part of them.

Children can make weddings special – as part of the retinue or as guests with their parents. But do make sure your child is welcome.

If your child is part of the retinue

  • Make sure you understand exactly what’s expected of your child as a flower girl or pageboy. Discuss it beforehand with the bridal couple and your child, and practise a few times if necessary.
  • Make sure your child understands they’re just helping “Uncle X and Auntie Y” with their big day so that children who are old enough know the day isn’t about them. This can prevent disappointment or humiliation if everything doesn’t go as planned or if the guests’ attention shifts too soon for his or her liking back to the bride’s lovely dress.

If you’re invited without your children

Remember that a couple’s wedding day is their day: it’s their right to decide there’ll be no children at their wedding – for logistical as well as financial reasons.

Some bridal couples do allow the children of close family to attend, so don’t make a fuss if you arrive at the wedding and see some children there.

If the wedding is in another town and you’ll have to spend the weekend there get hold of other guests who’ve also been invited without children (ask the bride). Perhaps you can together arrange for a nanny to take care of your children.

If the invitation doesn’t mention anything about children

Make sure. Don’t assume your children are welcome, no matter how young they are. Don’t under any circumstances just arrive with your children. Imagine how you’d react if it was your wedding and you hadn’t planned for children.

If your children are invited too

  • Contact the bridal couple as soon as you receive the invitation that says your children are welcome. Find out if they’re arranging entertainment/children’s activities and whether there will be a special children’s menu or whether you must make provision. Also find out if there will be a separate children’s table so you can prepare your children for the possibility of sitting at another table.
  • If you want your children to sit with you, inform the bridal couple as soon as possible; don’t wait until the week before the wedding – the bride won’t be happy about changing her seating plan.
  • Talk to your children as soon as you’ve accepted the invitation. Explain to them that some people don’t invite children because they’re sometimes naughty at weddings and ask if they think they’re capable of being good.
  • Explain the procedure to them: that they’ll first have to sit still for a long time (during the wedding ceremony), then be able to play outside (while the bridal couple are having photographs taken), then sit still during the speeches, which will be followed by eating and dancing.
  • Dress your children in clothes that fit comfortably.
  • As you know only too well, even the best-behaved children can become difficult if they stay up too late and get too excited. Consciously make an opportunity for them to calm down – find out if there’s a room where you can go and sit away from all the excitement. Your child won’t admit in the midst of the excitement that they’re tired but after being relaxed for 10 minutes they might be ready to curl up in a corner for a nap.
  • Pack a cushion and blanket for when the children are ready to sleep.
  • Have a few “quiet toys/activities” on hand for when your child gets bored during the ceremony – a colouring book for example. If you have a tablet – and earphones – your child’s favourite Disney movie might keep them occupied.
  • If your partner will also be at the wedding arrange beforehand that one of you will take your restless child outside during the ceremony if necessary.
  • Remember, a wedding with children isn’t an opportunity to have a “night off” while the children terrorise the guests. If you want to enjoy the company of friends without worrying about your children it’s better to arrange a carer for them beforehand and leave them at home.

-Compiled by Suzaan Hauman


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