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Friday, April 17, 2015

Six Simple Steps to keep Smiles on the Children in Your Wedding

I was a single mama who had the amazing blessing of marrying my own Mr. Wonderful almost two years ago.  Naturally, our children were included in the wedding - the youngest two were the flower girl and ring bearer.  We also had quite a few child guests.  Here are few things I found helpful.

1) Play Dress Up with the actual wedding garments.  Little children aren't always used to wearing such fine clothing and may feel awkward.  Allowing them to wear the whole ensemble a couple of times in advance sets the stage for them to feel good and to anticipate the day.  On this same note, select garments appropriate for children - my boys loved wearing their black Chuck Taylors! 

2) Take a few formal photos during the dress-up time.  Children aren't patient for wedding photography and some of my favorite individual photos are from a week or so prior to the wedding when the kiddos were trying on their attire.  We were all more relaxed and the focus was on them rather than the bride and groom.  This will let their sweet personalities really shine!

3) Give yourself the gift of a "Children's Assistant" so that you are not feeling responsible for them on your big day.  This can be the child's parent or another family member/sibling. Let this person be in charge of the children's wardrobe, floral embellishments and wedding accessories (baskets, pillows, petals, all the works!).  The same person should be responsible for the children during photo time and be their attendant if they are included at your reception.  Speaking of photos, list all the scenes that include children and have your photographer get those done first.  This avoids wardrobe malfunctions and lets them relax before the whole thing wears them out too much.

4) Remember they are children.  This day will be exciting for them, but for reasons different than the adults.  They get to dress up!  There is unique lighting and food!  The adults are all in party-mode!  But things can feel long, boring or they have to bee too still and quiet.  Provide a space for them to relax and hang out (maybe even offer video games behind the scenes?).  Consider a children's table with unique games, coloring, bubbles, etc.  This will depend on the style of your day and venue, but if you are inviting children, it's a great memory-making opportunity for them.

5) Ask your photographer to capture their perspective.  A wedding looks and feels different when you're only waist-high and that is a fun perspective to capture.  Floors are suitable seating, candles fun for experiments and all the flowers and lighting transforms any space.  Many young children don't know all the traditions and explaining the meaning or involving them draws them into the ceremony and helps them feel special and included.

6) Let them off the hook.  It may look great in a photo, but practically speaking it isn't wise to require young children to remain still on a platform or stage throughout the ceremony.  Give them a special spot up front with someone assigned just to them to help corral the energy.  This can be the "Children's Assistant" and will be your go-to person for helping with wardrobe, monitoring their needs for snacks, playtime, naps, etc.  Choose a time during a reading, prayer or other transition for them to leave the stage and get settled.  Suggest extra cake or another 'treat' for excellent behavior to motivate them to be still and not be distracting.

Children add a multi-generational dimension to any wedding ceremony and I'm a huge fan of including them.  Work with their charming childishness instead of trying to change that will provide for the best experience for all of you!  

Yes, the shirts were untucked and unbuttoned, the flower girl
was no longer acting very lady-like, but the love and
connection are captured. 

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