Children in your bridal party

 
by Jennifer Cram (19/05/2019)  |  Categories: | Wedding Ceremony |
Flower Girl with a microphoneIf 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 great photographs.

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 behind me)!

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.