Including Children In Your Wedding Party
Question: Hi! I am getting married and have quite a few children (8) in the wedding party. Please advise what they should be called in the wedding program. I have searched for the answer but this situation seems somewhat unique. Thank you!!!!
Joyce C Smith, MBC: Having a large number of children in your wedding party is very much an English tradition. Collectively, just call them “child attendants” You can also break them down into the roles they play…flower girl, ring bearer, page/train bearers, candle lighters. Just be sure to include them all in the rehearsal and take time for them to understand their role and rehearse it. The day of the ceremony is also a good time to rehearse again. Also, assign an adult(s) to these attendants.
Emmanuela Stanislaus, Precious Occasions, Wedding and Event Planner: I totally agree. The children’s roles are defined as attendants if they do not have traditional assignments such as flower girl, ring bearer. Good luck!
Donna, Wedding Queen, President: Be cautious when including very young children since they can be unpredictable. If you’re a real low-key person, who’s not expecting perfection, then carry on. Be prepared that all children might not act as they rehearsed. Often, when introduced to a large audience, they get nervous and sometimes even frightened. Be sure the parents are nearby to assist and if any child decides at the last minute they don’t want to participate let them go with their parent. Never force a child to participate. Warnings aside, children do lend a warm, family feeling to a wedding and can really break the tension (and sometimes steal the show!).
Darlene Taylor: You DO have a lot of children involved don’t you!! Excellent advice from all! I would like to add that the number of children in your wedding party is limited only by your patience and the supply of available tots. The first question to consider, before assigning roles, is the ages of the children. In the United States, the current fashion is to limit the roles of ring-bearer and flower girl to children under age 6. Of course, this means that children become too old for these roles just as they become old enough to be responsible about performing them correctly! If you have a seven- or eight-year-old child friend who would be thrilled to be in the wedding party, it never hurts to ask if he or she would like to be ring-bearer or flower girl.
A typical breakdown for attendant ages is:
- 3 to 6: flower girl, ring-bearer, or train-bearer.
- 7 to 10: carry candles in procession, carry prayer book in procession, hand out programs, hand out flowers to mothers or grandmothers, or tend guestbook.
- 11 to 15: junior bridesmaid or junior usher/groomsman. At 16, the “junior” title may belittle an adolescent attendant. It would be kinder to call him a groomsman or her a bridesmaid. These age ranges are not written in stone so feel free to adjust them to your family circumstances.
Only the role of ring-bearer carries a limit on how many children can perform it as there are only two rings available to bear. You may have as many flower girls, junior bridesmaids, and others as you like.
Some food for thought – remember, you are asking them to:
- Get through the rehearsal dinner.
- Get a good night’s rest.
- Alter their morning routine.
- Put on scratchy, strange clothes and hard new shoes.
- Sit for their hairstyle and keep a “thing” on top of their head.
- Get through pre-ceremony pictures.
- Hold a basket and not loose it.
- Drop petals, walk slow, walk straight!
- Then two hours later be expected to be clean, still and quiet for more pictures? This is not possible for many adults!
Assigning an adult to supervise, having places for them to sit during ceremony, and perhaps a children’s table/area during reception will help keep them “cooperative” throughout the day!
Here are way you should title the children:
- the young girl pulling the wagon – junior bridesmaid
- the children in the wagon – is their job to just look cute?
- the 2 girls carrying bouquets – Junior bridesmaid
- the 5 yr. old boy and girl – flower girl and ring bearer?
- the boys pulling runner – ushers
One of the cutest roles for a child (or children) is when he/she/they announce the bride as bell ringers. This child (or children) walks down the center aisle ringing glass or porcelain bells proclaiming: “The bride is coming! The bride is coming!” Maybe this is something you can incorporate into your “mix” of children.
Roles for Children to Play in Weddings
We decided to summarize some of the potential roles that kids can play in your wedding. To make things a little easier we included some age guidelines as well as a short descriptions:
- Ring Bearer (ages 3 to 6) – The ring bearer carries the ring/s down the aisle.
- Flower Girl (ages 3 to 6) – The flower girl tosses petals on the aisle before the bride walks down it.
- Gift Attendant (ages 9 and up) – A gift attendant is responsible for the gift table. He or she watches the table during the reception.
- Guest Book Attendant (ages 10 and up) – The guest book attendant’s job is to get people to sign the guest book.
- Junior Bridesmaid (ages 8 to 15) – This role is reserved for girls who are too old to be a flower girl and too young to be a bridesmaid.
- Junior Usher/Groomsman (ages 8 to 14) – This role is reserved for boys who are too old to be a ring bearer and too young to be a groomsman/usher.
- Personal Attendant (ages 14 and up) – The personal attendant is expected to help with the preparations before the ceremony and/or reception.
Wedding Ceremonies with Children
During second marriage ceremonies, it is a good idea to involve any children from previous marriages in the actual ceremony. When you have children from another marriage involved there are many ways to integrate them into the wedding ceremony, including things like the Family Medallion Ceremony. Often a parent will offer a rose to the children or have a wedding sand ceremony as a way to say that they love them.
Often, something like a simple comment included in the wedding vows can be meaningful. Here’s one we found where a parent included the children in their wedding vow:
- “CHILD’S NAME, I love your Mommy/Daddy very much, and I love you too. When I take your Mommy/Daddy as my wife/husband, I also take you into my heart as my own child. I want you to know that I will care for you always as your parent and I want you to know that you are important to me.”
What Children In Your Wedding Party Do
- Flower girl: Usually a young girl who precedes the bridal party down the aisle spreading flowers or petals. The flower girl is often dressed in an age-appropriate version of the bridesmaids’ dresses.
- Ring bearer: Usually a boy who carries the wedding rings on a pillow and presents them to the best man, groom, or officiant. The ring bearer often wears a traditional ‘boy’s suit’ consisting of a jacket and shorts.
- Junior bridesmaid: Usually a 10 to 14-year-old girl who is too old to be a flower girl, but not old enough to accept the responsibility of being a bridesmaid. The junior bridesmaid dresses are either the same or similar to the bridesmaids’ dresses, and she should be included in bridesmaids’ activities.
Make sure you have reasonable expectations. Your three-year-old flower girl may never make it down the aisle, but the story of how she refused to go will entertain family members for years. Remember, anything these children do, short of a full-fledged tantrum, will be considered adorable. Make sure a parent is free to assist the child.
Many a wedding guest has chuckled to see a six-foot-tall dad act as flower girl next to his daughter. Trust the child’s parents to tell you what the child can and cannot be expected to do. One parent or grandparent should be stationed at the end of the aisle and be available to sit with the child during the wedding.