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!

{ 97 comments… read them below or add one }

Seriously? October 3, 2011 at 3:04 am

So… the bride’s and groom’s children shouldn’t be in the wedding? Whatever works with your religion, I suppose. If I were to marry again (I’m a widow) then I most certainly WOULD have my child as my maid of honour, should she accept the offer. Then again, at this writing, that child is 26 years old.

On another note, my parents’ cousins, in true old-world tradition even after moving to North America, did have several under-12 children in their weddings. Oddly enough, I can remember my own participation in one of those weddings. Further, we have 8mm film of those ceremonies. In none of them were any of the children uncomfortable, upset, or badly behaved, and based on the soundtrack of the 8mm films taken at receptions, every one of them ENJOYED the experience.

And the children of this family continue to enjoy their participation in family weddings. I just thought it was odd to see all these “horror stories”… Just goes to show, one’s own experiences aren’t always typical!

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JD Kraaikamp January 19, 2012 at 12:02 am

There’s another thing I’ve noticed: Very young children can get spooked–at least, my 3-year-old nephew got spooked when bagpipes were played at my sister’s wedding.

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Bugjones May 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I get spooked when bagpipes are played. I think that if you don’t know bagpipes are going to be played, if you are unaware, they can initially be spooky.

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KC Kidder December 10, 2014 at 4:47 am

I agree, 65 years ago I was in my Mother’s cousins wedding. Why ?-because I was 4 years old and the Bride who was not close to my mother knew no other children. I can still remember my fear and the pink satin dress I wore. Apparrently I was slamming fistfuls of petals on the church aisle floor instead of gently tossing and sprinkling them. My family still laughs about it- but to this day it is not funny to me.
It was Terror. I hear the latest craze is to have your dog be the ring bearer…good, some poor little child will not have to do it and the circus atmosphere can ratchet up another notch.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Sugaryfun February 26, 2012 at 5:08 am

I agree that it depends on the temperment of the individual child. I’m biased since I had my two nieces (4 and 2 at the time) as flowergirls at my wedding. They both loved their dresses (yes they were chosen for them, just as I would have chosen for an adult bridesmaid, no big deal) and chose how they wanted to wear their hair. They had fun at the ceremony and both girls have kept their dresses and though they are 12 and 10 now they still often talk fondly of the event and show people photos and the dresses.

My mother in law didn’t want them involved in the ceremony (maybe for the same reasons you listed, I don’t know as she would never explain) and still says so because apparently though everyone else involved was happy with how things turned out it was unacceptable that we broke the ‘rule’ of having no kids at a wedding.

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Bugjones May 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I so much agree with you. I have two flower girls, one is five and one is two. The five year old remembers everything, she has already been a flower girl before and loved it and she will love it this time. She asked me if she could be in the wedding and I said yes. She will remember it too, and since she is like a near daughter to me, we are very close I can’t imagine not having her in the wedding. We practiced at the church with both of them. We had quite a few people there for some reason, and the two year old could make it up the aisle but didn’t want to stand there. So we are having them walk up the aisle, then their parents are going to be setting in the second row on an end. They know that once they are done, they quietly go set with their dad.

They aren’t props either, I just want to share my day with them, and I love that it is a casual fun event because that is how my fiance and I are. I found little ways to include a lot of people like playing a certain song (for a best friend who couldn’t be in the wedding because he is visiting a gf in another country and only gets home three days before the wedding) while guests arrive, and my brother’s band is playing at the reception. The boquet is going to the oldest married couple, not being thrown and the mob and mog are both getting a rose after the ceremony. These things aren’t props, they are just ways of including the people you love and honoring them on your big day.

Wonderful comment :)

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Agania August 6, 2012 at 12:08 am

LovleAnjel, now that’s how to have little kids involved in your wedding. Little jobs to make them feel special and included but no performance or spectacle.

I agree with Admin, no baby attendants. Just before our wedding we went to hubby’s cousin’s wedding. Their 18 month old son (in full 3 piece tuxedo and dragging a teddy bear the same size as himself) was expected to trot down the aisle. He threw a full blown, on the floor, screaming fit right in front of his mother as she was about to sweep down the aisle. His grandmother (MOG) had to take him outside to calm him down. She basically missed her son’s wedding. I leaned over and whispered to hubby “that’s why we are NOT having little attendants!”

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