Is there anything more adorable than a ring bearer or flower girl? Little miniatures dressed in tuxedos, top hats, tails, long gowns, lace and frills. It is a mixture of innocents and purity in adult regalia that only add to the allure of children in the wedding.
Having young children in the wedding however does require thought and preparation. Obviously, a bride does not want to be responsible for the children on the day of her wedding, so it is important to delegate. Pick someone who will make sure the children are comfortable, fed, hydrated and of course kept clean.
Whether the temperature is rising or falling, when dealing with children you must be careful. It is simple, use common sense. If it is eighty-five degrees outside, how comfortable do you think a layered suit is? Often the groom and groomsmen are standing around with their coats off because of the heat while next to them stands the ring bearer with his coat on, beet red and sweating. Remember, when a child is told repeatedly to stay clean and stop fussing with this or that piece of clothing they probably are not going to take off their coat until told it is okay.
Likewise, your little flower girl should not have to freeze when it is cold because you want everyone to see her looking like a princess. Have a coat or sweater for the child when it is cold. It is one thing to have to take off a coat for a few minutes while pictures are taken. It is quite another to shiver on the sidelines waiting and then be expected to stand still and smile for pictures.
Here are a few tips that will keep your wedding child friendly.
Water - Have water readily available. Children dehydrate much faster than adults and teens. Fruit juice and soda pop are not a good idea. Both juice and soda pop will stain or at the very least leave an unsightly spot if spilled and on top of that, they are loaded with sugar.
Sunscreen - A child's skin is very sensitive and burns easily, much faster than an adult burns. Sunscreen should be used whenever children are in the sun, especially when the wedding is on a beach or in an area that does not have shaded areas.
The best sunscreen for children is made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, look for one of those ingredients on the label. The SPF should be 30, a lower SPF is not enough and a higher SPF does not increase protection. Avoid buying sunscreens that contain oil derived from nuts that could cause a severe allergic reaction. Do not be fooled by labeling, there is very little if any difference in regular sunscreen and sunscreen marketed for children other than the higher price.
Clothing - Extra clothing is always good. Bring an extra change of clothes including socks, diapers or underpants. If the wedding is in the evening and the child will be up past their normal bedtime, bring pajamas and change them before leaving the reception. Chances are they will be asleep before you arrive home and you can carry them right off to bed.
Clothing that works well for the ring bearer at the reception or between pictures and the ceremony might be a pair of black shorts, white short-sleeved shirt, bow tie and sandals.
To give shorts a formal look, sew a stripe of black satin ribbon to the outside of each short leg. The stripe will mimic the look of tuxedo pants.
Flower girls do not have it quite as bad in warm weather because they do not have to wear layers of clothing Face it, girls love the swishing sound of the dress and rustle of petticoats. They like the ribbons and bows and the flowers that sometime adorn their hair. They are delighted when they spin and twirl making their dresses flair out around them.
When you ask a child to walk down the aisle in front of people they do not know, you must be prepared for them to back out at the last second. It's scary! Never over stress the importance of what they are doing, chances are it will backfire.
Telling a very young child to go to someone they know in the wedding party has a better success rate than threats or anger. What a child does or does not do has little to do with the overall flow of the wedding, they are after all minor players, no pun intended. The bride is the star of this production.
Food - Please, feed the children. It is common for pictures to begin at eleven o'clock in the morning when the wedding is at two o'clock. Break that down and a child who has had a light breakfast is going several hours without eating. Any mother can tell you a hungry child is not a happy child. Make sure there are low sugar snacks or pre made lunches on hand. You will find youngsters far more cooperative, attentive and well behaved when they have eaten.
One last word of advice, careful what you say around children. A five year old came to me after a wedding and said "This is the smallest wedding my mommy has had so far."
While another told me "Thank you for marrying my mommy. My grandma has just had it with her running around". Children are not good at discerning a joke or sarcasm. What a child hears they take literally.
Several years ago, good friend of mine married a wonderful man who happens to be very well off. At the rehearsal dinner someone made a joke and she laughed and replied, "Oh yeah, I'm in the money now." to which the groom added, "I'm throwing away all her coupon books". It was all very innocent. The next day at the wedding however, her son who was five at the time, told the groom's grandfather when asked what he thought about his new stepfather "Good. We're in the money now and mommy's throwing away all the coupons."
Children are wonderful we just have to remember to be prepared.