there is one thing a Royal Wedding highlights Every.
Single. Time. It is that children in the wedding party
are simultaneously Captivating and Capricious.
You can't control what they will do, but what they do
do (often reflecting the secret feelings and thoughts
of the adults present) makes for memorable moments and
When I got married I was stuck with my fiance's
five-year-old niece as a flower girl. I use the word
stuck here to reflect how I felt at the time. In the
years since, especially as I've officiated so many
weddings with children included, I've come to love
flower girls and page boys! And I'm not in the least
phased by anything they might do - including pinching
the hand-held microphone and sucking it.
Back then I decided that I wouldn't just have a single
flower girl. I invited another five-year-old I knew in
order to have a pair of sweet (so I thought), blonde
cuties. Those were the days when all of the bridal
party stood up front, with backs to the guests. We are
much more sensible, nowadays, and children often sit
in the front row with grandparents. I've always been a
belt-and-braces person, so the two girls were firmly
instructed that they were to walk down the aisle
holding hands, posies held in the other hand, and
were to stay holding hands for the whole ceremony.
I should have predicted what would happen. An extended
bout of arm-wrestling, which I did not see (they were
Where children in the wedding party are going to stay
standing up front I have a failsafe solution. Bribery.
I put a coin on the ground where each of them has to
stand and tell them if they behave themselves, they
get to keep it. Works brilliantly.
The Humanist approach to life and love definitely
includes celebrating families, so whether the children
are your own, those of family members, or of friends,
including them adds so much - including funny moments
no-one could have planned. Such as when the couple
kissed very enthusiastically after being pronounced
husband and wife, the flower girl, watched for an
instant, and then, hands on hips, turned to the guests
and yelled ''Did you see that?"
The traditional role for flower girls is scattering
rose petals in the path of the bride as she enters,
or, in older English tradition, in the path of the
couple as they exit the ceremony. Page boys, who
used to carry the train, are now pretty well just
there. But they can carry signs, or use bubble wands
as they walk down the aisle. There is something
magical about a bride walking through clouds of
bubbles with the sun creating teeny rainbows in each
one. And of course, there is always the task of
carrying the rings.
Children can bring the ribbons or cords forward for a
handfasting. They can hand out bubbles while you are
signing, so that you exit the ceremony space through a
cloud of bubbles. From the practical point of view, if
they are carrying the rings, make sure that the rings
are secure. No one brings a metal detector to a
wedding and rings bounce. And also from a
practical point of view, make sure anything they carry
- basket of petals, posy of flowers, ring cushion etc
- is light and easy for small hands to hold. And give
instructions about what to do with those things if
they get tired of holding them.
And then relax and wait for the unexpectedly magic
moments to happen. Trust me. They will.